This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Tehachapi.
To whom it may concern,
I received your short and very small print pamphlet about being incarcerated during this COVID-19 pandemic. I recently tested positive for COVID-19, along with many other men here. I have very strong mixed feeling about the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as a COVID-19 survivor.
As an inmate inside a closed environment with no intimate contact from family, friends or prisoner support system, I feel as if I don’t matter. I caught a virus from professional state government worker who are supposed to have health protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not only do I feel expendable, many of the men do as well.
The healthcare workers show how they feel about inmates in the level of care they give by not properly wiping and sanitizing equipment before seeing the next person (inmate). Now, not all health care workers fall below the minimal standard of care expected. But in pandemic types of situations, these small lapses have very large repercussions such as the outbreak we are currently living through here.
So it has been hard emotionally living inside with people who don’t care as much about you as you do. It’s scary to be limited in your own choices for health care and communication outlets. As we moved from one day to the next here in a closed environment, with limited communication, we don’t know what to expect with our friends, families, or self.
To live in these times we are afraid and tense, knowing that only a state or free staff can transmit a possible deadly virus to our closed environment. Their screening process and test result are confidential. Yet we are treated like lepers once we have a positive COVID-19 test, moved from our housing unit with no communication with our family, no phones, mail is deemed non-essential at this point. We are kept in a single cell getting our vital life sign checked twice a day. In other words, we are that island of lepers.
I asked a nurse to wipe down the equipment before checking my vital life signs and I was in a verbal argument before I knew I did something wrong. This turned into custody and the nurse teaming up to put me in my place white stating, “You all have COVID anyways.”
I felt as if I did not matter, that my voice was not wanted or needed in the care I was getting. The second healthcare worker seemed tooken back by the response I got for asking for a clean medical appliance to be used.
I don’t know if this was common but with buildings on faculty C yard being closed due to COVID-19, I can’t say it is custody that brings the virus or free staff. But with below minimal standards of healthcare given, I feel confident that the outbreak we are experiencing is due to the unprofessional practices and non-oversight of COVID-19 procedures and testing of all workers entering into our closed environment.
Understanding the limited resources at the disposal of healthcare workers, I am sympathetic but when the few sully the many kind heart beautiful spirited healthcare workers more should be done to protect those heroes who we call nurses, RNs, CNAs and NPS.