Hepatitis C (Hepatitis C Virus) at the Central
California Women's Facility (CCWF)
Pamela Murphy, aka "PJ,"
was looking forward to her parole date in April, 2000. Looking
forward to spending some quality time with her family. This
was especially important, because PJ had AIDS and Hepatitis C Virus, and not
much time. Needless to say, she did not make it out of CCWF,
and passed away over the Labor Day weekend.
If we are to believe
"inmate rumor," when the autopsy was done, it was
discovered that her abdominal cavity was filled with blood. I
would venture to say that "inmate rumor" was right
on the money.
PJ's death was not sudden,
not unexpected. Any untrained eye could clearly see her dying
a little more each day. I only wonder why the medical staff at
CCWF could not (or would not) see! For months prior to her
death, there was a constant flow of blood from her nose. She
was constantly sniffing (as if she had a cold) the blood back
into her nose so that it would not run down her face. Her
abdomen was swollen so that it appeared that she was in her
second or third trimester of pregnancy.
In the last days before her
passing, PJ was so jaundiced that her eyes were the florescent
yellow of a caution sign. She was obviously in liver failure,
but was still being given handfuls of liver toxic HIV
medications at the med window. She should have been pulled off
of all medications and hospitalized until she could have
(possibly) been stabilized.
PJ's story, I know, is
horrifying to hear. Trust that it was horrifying,
heartbreaking and frustrating to see. PJ's story, sadly, is
not unique. There are two other women currently here that will
soon be in her position, and are alas. . . receiving little,
and in one case, NO care!
When a woman enters this
institution, a routine battery of tests is run, including a
hepatitis panel. This is how an inmate is cleared for food
handling (or not). Recently, many women (who have already been
incarcerated for a period of years) are "finding
out" about their Hepatitis C Virus status. In a few cases, because they
have started displaying symptoms that are severe enough to
request medical attention, only to find that a positive Hepatitis C Virus
result was recorded in their medical files all along. Now they
are cirrhotic and will never be considered for treatment here.
You have to wonder, how
much of this could have been avoided with early intervention?
The numbers are numbing - 69% of female inmates, 54% of male
inmates, 63,500 inmates (estimated) statewide! Who cares about
a bunch of prisoners that are already safety locked away?
Imagine 63,500 people unaware of the infection they carry,
uneducated, untreated, being released to unsuspecting families
and into communities. I wonder how many future infections
could be avoided with an effective education/treatment program
I read somewhere that
$300,000 was allocated for Hepatitis C Virus treatment in the California
Department of Corrections this year. Enough to treat about 15
people for one year. I wonder, which 15?
Judy Ricci, W69939
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93210-1508