Joe’s blog – #83 – prisoner blood only, poses a danger

I learned from an anonymous source this afternoon that because the staff here at Deerfield complained so much about the poor quality of the food at this jewel of a medical facility to top administrators at DOC headquarters in Richmond, that a memo was sent by the Deputy Director of Operations, Dave Robinson, to the Food Service Director directing that he improve the food for staff. The problem? Staff was eating the same wholesome and highly nutritious food dumped on the prisoners. Keep in mind that there is only one food budget at Deerfield, i.e., prisoners and staff share the same budget. Food has vastly improved for the staff: salmon steaks, black forest ham, kilbasa sausage, fried chicken, roast beef, turkey, beef of other cuts, etc. An abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits. Of course that comes at the expense of the funds allotted by the taxpayers for meals for prisoners. Many of the latter would benefit from a healthier diet given their age, and health issues. That is especially so given the high cost of medical care for this specific population.

The same source told me that he was told by the Food Service Director that human blood did not constitute a biohazard. This came up because of a recent altercation between two prisoners in the main chow hall: a good bit of blood got splattered around. Didn’t slow things down. Blood was wiped up with a rag by one of the prisoners working in the chow hall cleaning tables. Guess blood poses no danger to us less than human prisoners. Yet another source working in the kitchen tells me of another incident where two kitchen workers got into a fight in the staff break room in the kitchen. Blood was splattered around. Oddly that constituted a biohazard concern. That area was closed down and prisoners specifically trained in proper hazmat procedures were brought in to decontaminate that area. Apparently prisoner blood only poses a danger to staff.

Now that I think about it, given the amount of money saved around here by not treating the handling of the bodily fluids of prisoners properly, e.g., soiled adult diapers, urine and feces often found on the toilets and floor of the communal bathroom (sometimes in the dorm proper), blood, vomit, etc.,etc., there should be a little extra funds for the improvement in our diets.

When I was housed at the higher level prisons, for a time, I had the job assignment to clean up biohazards. I had to be trained, tested, and certified before I could be assigned to that job. When cleaning up such messes I had to don a disposable hazmat suit, mask, and gloves, etc. The area had to be cleaned with chlorine bleach, everything had to be placed in clearly identifiable biohazard bags, and properly disposed of. Those steps were followed to protect the health and, safety, of all: prisoner and staff alike.

Again, it must be remembered that Deerfield is primarily a medical facility. A population with a high incidence of Hepatitis C, HIV, MRSA, and other disease. Because of that one would think that the proper handling of bodily fluids would be a high priority. Make no mistake: this is a public safety issue. Not only do prisoners get released, staff come and go daily, prisoners visit with family and friends on the weekend. Prisons are not Las Vegas: what happens in prison doesn’t stay in prison.

Here at Deerfield adult diapers are placed in the dorm trash can. When I used the bathroom earlier I saw blood in one of the sinks, and on the floor. I’ve seen infected bandages not disposed of properly. The only time I’ve seen a biohazard can with corresponding bag is in medical when I go in for routine blood work. I’m told that human feces is no a biohazard. Yet when I have to give a small stool sample (small wooden stick, 3 small cards, so that occult blood can be identified), before the nurse will except the sample I am given a small biohazard bag to put it in. When urine is tested for drugs, the investigators dispose of the sample cups by placing them in biohazard bags.

Yet the food service manager, my building supervisor, and other staff tell me that bodily fluids pose no danger to me, a prisoner. Proper precautions need only be taken to protect staff.

Last time I checked I and, my fellow prisoners, qualified as members of the human species no less than prison staff. Yet at every turn I sense a double standard. It feels like I am being treated as subhuman. Guards will rarely even touch one of us prisoners or, our property, without donning latex gloves to protect themselves. I guess I have cooties or something. Hmmm, now that I think about it they touch multiple prisoners without ever changing gloves. Talk about cross contamination!

Methinks the State Health Dept. might want to consider taking a look at Deerfield. Public Safety dictates it: apparently all prisoners have the cooties. Something is out of kilter but I hesitate to put my ungloved finger on it.

Peace, Joe G.

Deerfield, 11/10/16

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