Settlement nearly reached for Fluvanna prisoners

Prisoners at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women say they haven't been cared for appropriately. Photo courtesy of FCCW Prisoners at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women say they haven’t been cared for appropriately. Photo courtesy of FCCW

“It’s nasty—it had feces on the wall,” testified an inmate at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women during a November 9 settlement hearing. “It had blood,” she added, describing a trip to the prison infirmary.

Cynthia Scott, 46, is one of five female prisoners who filed suit against the institution for insufficient medical care in July 2012. The settlement hearing, heard by Judge Norman Moon in U.S. District Court, was to determine the fairness of the settlement in the class action lawsuit. Several inmates testified that they hadn’t been properly cared for and became more ill. Erika Ramsdale, a UVA oncologist who treated a FCCW terminal cancer patient, testified that her patient missed an appointment with no notice and was denied her prescriptions.

In Scott’s testimony, she described an inmate who wasn’t treated for a hand “with pus coming out of it,” and was told by nurses it was because the medication was too expensive. Without treatment, Scott’s fellow inmate continued her job in the kitchen.

Scott, who has a history of blood clots, said six months passed between the time her leg started swelling and she was able to get an ultrasound.

“My toes were blue,” she said. “The bottom of my foot was ice cold.”

After she had to cut her own sock off with nail clippers and nurses acknowledged the swelling, she was rushed to UVA where a doctor prescribed blood-thinning shots twice a day and blood tests every week. Scott testified that it took a few days for the nurses to determine a correct prescription and, eventually, she said a prison doctor took her off the blood-thinning shots. When her toes turned blue again, she was taken back to UVA where a doctor said she never should have been taken off the blood thinner. Scott has not had access to her blood thinner prescription since December 2013.

A compliance monitor for the prison, Dr. Nicholas Scharff, will visit the prison every quarter if the settlement is reached. The judge has until December 21 to sign the settlement and it is expected that he will. After the hearing, Judge Moon thanked and congratulated the people in the courtroom for working to correct the situation, calling it “a great service.”

Hoping to have her rights recognized, Scott said, “We’ve made mistakes, but we’re still human beings.”