ADVOCATING FOR PRISONERS WITH MEDICAL NEEDS

California
The CORRESPONDENCE CONTROL UNIT “HOW TO”

The Correspondence Control Unit California Prison Healthcare Services
[This entire process takes about 2 hrs over a period of 3 weeks. Your initial phone call and letter will take approximately 1 ½ hour] You do not have to write ‘fancy’ or use legal jargon. Just tell it like it is. Be brief and to the point.

PO Box 4038 Sacramento, CA 958124038 916-324-1403
State: the name of the prisoner & his CDC # the prison where is located, and where he is housed; his Unit and bed # EXAMPLE: “I am calling in regard to John Doe, housed at Corcoran State prison, C-4-123. As briefly as possible, explain the reason you are calling and the details as to why this prisoner needs help.

Call the Correspondence Control Unit hotline; 916324-1403
You will be given time to leave a “long” message. State: your name

Prisoners must have already filed at least one 602 appeal concerning their health

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care issue before the CCU will help them. Prisoners do not have to be any relation to you for you to call and advocate for them.
EXAMPLE- PHONE CALL: My name is Jane Doe. My phone # is:___ ___ ____ (I always leave my “cell phone #) I am calling in regard to inmate, John Doe, at Corcoran State Prison, who is housed in Unit C-4-123. John Doe has been attempting to get medical care for his herniated disc for 2 years however his 602 appeals have continuously been ignored or denied. Mr. Doe states that he had an MRI prior to being transferred to Corcoran which showed he clearly had herniated discs; L-4 & L-5, but since he has been at Corcoran (Since November of 2008) he has not been able to get any medical attention. Could you please look into Mr. Does’ records, evaluate his needs and get him the help he needs. This man is in constant pain and is having difficulty performing even the most normal daily tasks. (Stick to the facts; do not blame or accuse, keep as brief as possible while still conveying pertinent information) End of Phone call

Once you have made the phone call then ‘write a letter’ reiterating what you said in the letter but with full details, but keeping it as brief as possible. Within 3 days of this phone call you should receive a call back from the Correspondence Control Unit….at which time you can give them more details. Also during this call, they will advise you that they cannot release any of the prisoners’ medical information to you without AN AUTHORIZATION TO RELEASE HEATH CARE INFORMATION. Tell them….”Alright, well please send me that form”. They will tell you that it is far easier if the prisoner fills it out on his end, and sends it in. Tell them THANKYOU- BUT PLEASE SEND IT TO ME; I WILL SEND IT TO HIM. (it has been my experience that if they send it ‘directly to the prisoner’…it rarely ever actually gets to him. If I send it to him “certified mail” then it reaches him It is not absolutely necessary to have the AUTHORIZATION TO REALEASE HEALTH INFORMATION FORM. They will see to his needs regardless…but it it ‘good’ to have it in case you need to ‘follow-up’ on care given, which I have had to do from time to time. For instance, one prisoner got the ‘surgery’ he was scheduled for, but then did not get the much needed ‘physical therapy’ needed after the surgery. Because I had that ‘RELEASE’ on

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file….I was able to ‘push’ for his physical therapy. I always let the prisoner I am advocating for know that the RELEASE is not absolutely necessary; that they will get the care they need without it, but that the RELEASE authorizes me to “follow-up” if they are not getting the ‘complete’ care they need. These records are personal and should be kept HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL. The prisoner has options as to ‘which parts’ of his records he wants to release also; medical, psychological, dental, etc….so he can authorize any or all parts of these records. But it’s important that you emphasize that this is “his choice” to do so. SO….you have made the call. You have received a call back. You have requested the Authorization to Release Health Care Info for the prisoner; which you are going to send to your prisoner; (certified mail with a return receipt), and you have written your letter. Now, send your letter (you should actually mail your letter the day you make the phone call, if possible) to The Correspondence Control Unit/Prison Health Care Services, (CCU) and you are going to reiterate what you said during your phone call…..and “add all the details” that you didn’t’ have time to add during the message you were leaving.

Send a copy of this letter to CCU.
Send a copy of your CCU letter to the prisoner you are advocating for (this lets him know help is on the way; encourages him) And keep a copy for your files) I am sending with these instructions a SAMPLE letter so you can get an idea of what to include; Be sure and mention that the prisoner has already filled out a 602 or numerous 602’s (whichever is the case) Be sure and include your return address and phone number Be sure and include the Prisoners name, CDC #, Prison, and housing unit Always, always, always keep a ‘paper trail’. Make a file for each prisoner you advocate for. Print out the letters you have written and the ones you receive back from the CCU and the prisoners. Keep on “on-going “file. Send your letter to the CCU. You should receive a letter back from them stating that they are looking into John Does records and they will see to it his needs are being met.

American Prison Advocacy 2010

In ALL cases that I have dealt with over the years (since 2005) once the initial phone call is made, and the letter is sent to CCU…..all the prisoners I have advocated for have gotten a response for the CCU within 4-5 weeks and their medical needs have been fully taken care of.

SAMPLE LETTER #1
(These examples are ‘real’; names and locations have been substituted to protect the confidentiality of the prisoner)
Jane Doe 333 third st Oakland, CA 33333 333-313-3013 The Correspondence Control Unit California Prison Healthcare Services PO Box 4038 Sacramento, CA 95812-4038 916-324-1403
February 18, 2010 RE: CDCR REFUSAL TO TREAT INMATE

To whom it may concern;

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I am writing to you regarding Inmate, John Doe, F-97547, HDSP/D-4-120L. Mr. Doe states that he has had Hept C since 1999. According to Mr. Doe he has 2 strains of the Hept C virus; Geneo type 1 A & 2 B so he feels this disease is twice as hard on his liver. During the period when Mr. Doe was receiving treatment for Hept-C, he said it was working. He had a ‘Viral Load” done on June 15th, 2009, was receiving 1 injection of Interferon 1 time per week and 7 Ribavirin pills a day and was assessed at a blood count of over 1 million 1 hundred 40 thousand …. after 4 weeks of treatment his viral load was at zero. He states he is what is referred to as “a responder to treatment. Mr. Doe states that he is currently being denied treatment because he was so sick that he could not withstand the treatment given and was forced to sign a “Refusal for Treatment” by Nurse Practioner, Melody French. He also has MRSA Staph that he is not currently being treated for. Prior to being denied medical care P.A Miranda did a culture of the sores on his legs and determined that he had MRSA. P.A. Miranda treated this with creams for several months to no avail. In October of 2009 he states he is going to MED-I-CALL almost daily. In October P.A Miranda finally did a culture on the sores that would not heal; the result, “MRSA”Staph infection. He WAS being treated for the HEPT C, in 2009 however; after receiving this treatment he began breaking out with sores all over his legs and buttocks. In September he requested that P.A. Miranda suspend his treatment for hept C, pending getting the MRSA infection under control (He states at that time he had sores all over his buttocks, inside his mouth and on his lips) Mr.

Doe states that he was so sick in September with the MRSA and side effects of the Hept C treatment that he could not continue with the Hept C treatment. He states that he was vomiting and had diarrhea, headaches, Chills and fever sweats; all a side effect of the Interferon and Ribavirin treatment. He states he could not even get extra toilet paper. (Prisoners are only allowed only one roll per week) As a result of his request; Nurse Practitioner, Melody French (supervisor of the Hept-C treatment program) forced him to sign a “refusal of treatment” and kicked him out of the Hept C program. Currently; he is not receiving treatment for either the Hept C or the MRSA and requests to be given treatments for both conditions. Mr. Doe states that he has submitted numerous 602’s concerning this matter however the Appeals Coordinator continually denies his 602’s. He further states that MRSA patients are not being isolated at HDSP. I ask that you look into this situation as soon as possible and work towards getting Mr. Doe reinstated in the HEPT C treatment program and provide adequate care of his MRSA Staph infection. It is also of grave concern to us here at PARC, that, if in fact, the MRSA patients are NOT being isolated at High Desert State Prison, that this protocol be remedied immediately. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible concerning Mr. Does’s medical care. Sincerely,

American Prison Advocacy 2010

Jane Doe
************************************** ************************************** *********

close to getting surgery, he was transferred to yet another prison. In 2006 he was transferred to C.S.P. Solano, where he dislocated his shoulder twice on approximately January 27th, 2006 and August 9th, 2006. According to Mr. Smith; each time his shoulder has been dislocated he has been taken to “outside” hospitals where X-Rays and MRI’s were done and his shoulder was put back into place. Once again, before surgery that was recommended could be performed; Mr. Smith was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison, Coalinga, CA. Mr. Smith states that finally they put him on a waiting list for surgery; per the recommendation of the orthopedic doctor, however before surgery could be performed he was transferred yet again, this time to High Desert State Prison, Susanville, CA, on October 10, 2007. According to Mr. Smith he began putting medical slips in requesting surgery as soon as he arrived at High Desert. He informed the medical staff at High Desert about the history of his dislocated shoulder, as well as informing them that he had already been approved for surgery at PVSP. Mr. Smith states that despite all of his efforts the closest he has come to getting his much needed surgery was an appointment with a RN nurse. She scheduled him to see a doctor which he has not seen to date! His shoulder has dislocated twice in 2009; once on August 17th, 2009 and again on October 25th 2009. Mr. Smith states that all of his MRI’, X-Rays, doctor appointments as well as recommendations for Surgery are in his medical

Sample Letter #2
Mrs. Jane Smith 444 4th st. Oakland, CA 45445 510-444-4444

The Correspondence Control Unit California Prison Healthcare Services PO Box 4038 Sacramento, CA 95812-4038 916-324-1403
January 6th, 2010

To whom it may concern: I am writing in regard to prisoner, John Smith, D-76009, housed at High Desert State Prison, Z Unit-603. Mr. Smith has shared with me that he has been incarcerated in CDCR since 2004. When he came into the system, including at the County Level, he had a displaced shoulder. [Left shoulder] He states that in every prison he has been in since 2004 he has been seen by medical staff; that the medical staff in each consecutive prison have been aware of his medical condition but none have followed thru on recommendations for surgery, because each time he felt he was

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records. He states that he has attempted to utilize the 602 Administrative Appeals Process to appeal this situation and get the much needed care he needs, however the Administrative Appeals Coordinator rejects his appeals, stating he does not have the necessary supporting documents. Mr. Smith further states that he has been attempting to get copies of his medical records since August 17th 2009 to no avail. The administration will not cooperate with him. I ask that you look into this matter immediately. This young man has been incarcerated in CDCR for 6 years with this existing medical concern and has yet to get any help with it. Please investigate this situation and let me know if I can be of help in any way to expedite the care of Mr. Smith. Thank you for your time and consideration,

COORDINATOR, because the fact that this young man had not gotten his needs met in “6 years” after having received approval for surgery twice was unacceptable! I wanted to draw plenty of attention to his needs] ************************************** ************************************** *********

SAMPLE LETTER # 3
Mrs. Jane Smith 444 4th st. Oakland, CA 45445 510-444-4444 Mr. John Smith # D-76009 HDSP/ Z Unit # 603 PO Box 3030 Susanville, CA 96127 January 14, 2010 Dear John: I just wanted to let you know that I have received 3 calls from The Correspondence Control Unit/Prison Health Services people. The first call was in response to my call; in which I verbally gave them all the details of your case and requested help for you. The second call was to acknowledge the letter that I had sent them, following up my initial phone call…to give them “in detail” all the intricacies of your case,

Jane Smith
Cc: Warden, Mike McDonald Cc: Ombudsman, Karin Richter CC: Litigating Coordinator, HDSP (I specifically included the “Litigating Coordinator” since Mr. Smith had difficulty in obtaining his medical records. I hoped this office could be of help in getting him his records)

[IN THIS CASE I SENT COPIES OF THE LETTER I SENT TO CCU…TO THE WARDEN, OMBUDSMAN & LITIGATING

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And the third call today was to let me know that because I did not have a “Release of Authorization” for health care on file they were limited in how much they could tell me about your care. However, they said they had mailed that form out to me 2 days ago and I should be getting it soon. When I do get it I will fill it out and send it in… or send to you to send in…depending on what the proper protocol is; I won’t know exactly what that is until I get it and read it. They did assure me however that my concerns about you were being addressed and you “were being seen”….so please keep me posted as to what is happening on your end. Alright , that’s it for now…just keep me updated - I will do the same for you . Respectfully,

444 4th st. Oakland, CA 45445 510-444-4444 John Smith -76009 HDSP/Z-Unit-603 PO Box 3030 Susanville, CA 96127 January 27th, 2010 Dear John; Please find enclosed the “authorization form” that you must complete and sign to allow the release of your medical information. This form must be submitted to the Health Records Office at the Institution where you are housed. You can send this form by institution mail “U-SAVE-EM” with a note to the records technician to place this form in your UHR. After this form has been placed in your file, this information may be available for release to you. Please let me know that you have received and submitted this form. Thank you,

Jane Smith SAMPLE LETTER #4
Mrs. Jane Smith

Jane Smith

American Prison Advocacy 2010

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