On January 22, Ray Gauthier died on 8 North, the Department of Correction's hospital unit within the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain. The Shattuck is a Department of Public Health facility. The University of Massachusetts Medical Center is contracted to provide the DOC's "Correctional Healthcare" (UMMCH). What follows is an open letter to the U Mass Correctional Healthcare Program. Nothing in this letter alleviates the DOC or the DPH from responsibility for their continuing medical abuse and maltreatment of prisoners.
This letter from Ray's wife also adds more details to her letter to Governor Patrick.
To: University of Masschusetts Correctional Health Program
333 South Street, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts 01545
Re: Deplorable Medical Care/Conditions at Shattuck Correctional Unit
To Whom It May Concern — or more likely — You who AREN'T Concerned at U Mass:
On January 17, 2010, I visited my husband, Ray Gauthier, at the Shattuck Correctional Unit [8N] for two hours. During that time, I had the opportunity to observe his room, his condition, medical staff, and the "care" he received. I left the visit and the correctional unit horrified and traumatized by the conditions.
Lest you think I am not educated or knowledgeable enough to objectively critique the conditions of the unit, I am college educated with a Bachelor's degree in social services — and — I completed (with a final grade of "A") a semester in the Fundamentals of Nursing which included an internship at a hospital.
My husband had been isolated in a room which was so unbearably hot that, within minutes of arrival, I was drenched in sweat. My husband was on oxygen due to a cancerous lung tumor. He could barely breathe to begin with, and the dry heat of the room exacerbated his inability to breathe. He had a damp washcloth on his head to cool himself, wore only a diaper, and was covered over his lower torso with a sheet for modesty.
His bed linen was dirty with dried blood, feces, and what I can only imagine were dark yellow sweat stains. His hospital gown, which he wasn't wearing but was on his bed, was stained with feces. I did not see a nurse-call button anywhere in the room.
He was very thirsty, yet there was no water pitcher on his tray, just a paper cup. How was he supposed to get out of bed and get water, when he could barely speak due to lack of breath and with a crushed vertebra? I got him two or three cups of tepid water from the metal sink by the metal toilet, which was in the room and not screened off. There were neither paper towels at the sink nor any hand soap.
His urine pitcher was on his tray with his food and drink. Twice I had to hand it to him so he could urinate, and there was no soap at the sink to wash my hands after handling it. Nor paper towels to dry my hands.
When a staff person came in to give him his meds, he asked for ice water and was told there was no ice. Yet, in his debilitated physical state, he warranted a correctional officer guard during the entire visit. But there was no cold water or cold drink for this man with terminal stage-four lung cancer.
My husband told me that he believed he had been segregated into the "hot box" because I had complained to MDOC medical services about his not receiving the treatment recommended by the physician at Tufts. There was no radio, no TV, nothing to read to help pass the time in this "hot box" room where he was placed as punishment for my having complained in his behalf.
(Ray died Friday morning January 22, 2010)
Now, before you reply with patronizing, condescending bureaucratic babble, let's cut through all that by you answering me one little question:
"Would YOU send your loved one to receive medical care at Shattuck Correctional Unit?"
And if your answer is "no," then won't you do something to correct this wrong? Please.
Carmen Gauthier, wife of deceased Raymond Gauthier
157 Emery Road,
Starks, Maine 04911