For five years, Jeff Maier, 53, was an Ohio prison guard. Then for 13 months he was an Ohio state prisoner. The change from one side of the bars to the other occurred after Maier was discovered smuggling drugs into the facility where he worked. Following his conviction he was sentenced to two years in prison, which turned out to be a death sentence due to the lack of medical care he received from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), his former employer.
Maier’s wife, Robin, and their daughter traveled to the Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) after prison officials at the North Central Correctional Center called to tell her that her husband had been hospitalized.
“Oh, he’s dead,” a guard at OSUMC told her when she arrived at the hospital. That came as a shock, as she had not been informed his condition was life-threatening.
What Robin did know was that her husband had been diagnosed with lung cancer, which had resulted in the surgical removal of part of a lung and several ribs six months earlier.
She also knew that promised radiation treatment and chemotherapy had never been provided. Maier suffered from blinding headaches, yet a scheduled MRI scan to discover the cause of his pain had been canceled.
Prison medical staff told him that the headaches were probably a reaction to his psychiatric medications. The only treatment he received was advice to lie down and put a cold cloth on his forehead. That did nothing to relieve the headaches, which were accompanied by repeated vomiting.
During the late night or early morning of July 5-6, 2010, Maier was discovered unconscious on the floor of his cell. His head was swollen to almost twice its normal size. He was transferred to OSUMC, where he died at 2:45 p.m. without regaining consciousness after his mother approved removing him from life support. He was shackled to the hospital bed when he died, per standard ODRC policy. His widow and daughter arrived at the hospital later that day.
“The worst thing was that Abby, our l2-year-old daughter with Asperger’s syndrome, had to learn about her daddy’s death in that manner,” said Robin.
ODRC spokeswoman Julie Walburn said she was investigating the circumstances surrounding Maier’s medical treatment and death.
“We provide all necessary medical care to inmates in our custody,” Walburn remarked. “I know no reason that we would have deviated from that in this case.” Further, the way Robin Maier learned about her husband’s death “would be a concern.”
“I feel the state was wrong in handling our family like this. He wasn’t Charles Manson, he wasn’t on death row ... I hope that this is addressed and corrected so that other families don’t have to suffer like ours,” Robin stated.
Unfortunately, other families will likely suffer similar treatment from Ohio prison officials. Although Charles Manson and death row prisoners are also entitled to adequate medical care, prison systems tend not to differentiate in their treatment of prisoners with medical needs – inadequate care is generally offered to all of them, regardless of their security level or notoriety.
Source: Columbus Dispatch
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