Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Be it cancer or constipation,'tain't the same in prison!

We old folks love to talk about our physical ailments and shortcomings.

Just sit in when old codgers are gathered at your small town coffee shop in the morning, or eavesdrop at the local senior citizens center. Health issues and physical problems are sure to be part of the conversation, and not just aches and pains. You’ll hear about leg cramps, vertigo, blood pressure, cholesterol, constipation and/or its opposite malady. And it won’t stop there. There’ll be interesting discussions about pills and salves, cough syrups, tonics, laxatives and suppositories.

You’ll also do some chuckling as you listen, because the conversation will be laced with graphic descriptions and mispronunciations!

But the deal is that most of us old folks are able to get adequate medical care, and have access to medical care practitioners. We gripe and complain, but many services and treatments are available to us.

I’m so mindful of that as I listen to 20-25 medical messages a week from prisoners. Just check out these complaints:

-Needs knee surgery, but is given a wheelchair instead
-Needs a wheelchair but is given a cane
-Struggles with Celiac Disease
-Terminally ill with Huntington’s Disease
-Living with MS but struggling with rickety wheelchair issues
-Incontinence, but not enough pads available.

The problems may seem similar, but the conditions and the responses are not.

And that’s why HFP has taken major steps forward, by actually adding a Medical Consultant to our team. Thanks to Dr. Bob Bulten’s huge compassionate heart, we do our best to triage these complaints and requests as they come in. We’re proud to say that the list of medical professionals who regularly assist us includes an oncologist, an ophthalmologist, an orthopedic surgeon, a palliative care specialist, a sleep study specialist, an anesthesiologist, a cardiologist and an allergist! Think of it. Fine professionals willing to offer opinions, advice, and even medical muscle if and when necessary. Because they get it. Because they care.

It’s a challenge getting essential medical care, not only in the Michigan prison system, but in all correctional facilities, for a wide variety of reasons.

One of the aims of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS is to see to it that inadequate, inappropriate, or rudely provided medical care is not unconstitutionally added to the inmate’s punishment. Our Mission Statement says that we do this “in order to alleviate suffering beyond the just administration of their sentences.”

Here’s why. Our surgeon general is The Great Physician.

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