My Doctor Visits at Federal Prison Camp–Herlong, Journal 07

Have you ever heard that prisons are supposedly the best place for anyone that needs medical care? I don’t know who told me that inmates get the best health care, but I can honestly tell you, that’s not entirely correct.

I hated doctor visits because the medical sucked at Herlong Prison Camp. My first appointment was conducted to determine if I was healthy enough to be in prison camp. Of course, I asked, “If I was unhealthy enough, can I go home?” They quickly responded with “No!”  

Anyways, an elderly black woman, I don’t know if it was a doctor or a nurse (most likely a nurse) asked me for my ID, but I had forgotten about it. Without any eye contact, she told me, “You’re supposed to have it on you all time.”

I replied, “Okay, do you want me to get it right now?”

“What do you think? I can’t work on you without it,” she said.  

I realize how dumb of a question it was. When I returned with my card, I showed it to her, and she didn’t even look at it. Without any personality whatsoever, she did a very basic check up on me. She also gave me very vague answers to my questions. If I didn’t know any better, she either hated me or was highly disappointed in me. If that was true, then she was basing it on other inmates, because I did nothing to make her feel that way.  I was in and out in a matter of minutes—healthy enough to be in prison.

I later found out that this was an appointment was just the prison’s evidence and documentation that I entered in prison without any bodily harm. It would be used in case I did cause bodily harm to myself in the future. The administration would have evidence and say, “He didn’t come in with these scars or tattoos.” Self-injuring and tattoos could get you a shot (disciplinary action). If there were any markings on an inmate they could go back and check the medical records Keep in mind, I had a similar check up when I first entered prison, which was just before I went to the actual camp.

Also, medical appointments are for funding. As long as the prison seems safe for inmates, Herlong will always obtain government funding. Thus, the people who are getting money from the prison can keep getting their money.

I had another medical visit a few days later. It was at a dentist office this time.  It was yet another impersonal and rushed doctor visit. The room was small and was right next door to the clinic I was in before.  There were two white doctors: one middle-aged and balding and one chunky gray-haired man. I didn’t get the names, but I wouldn’t have remembered them anyway. It was a clean, yet cluttered room. I first sat on a blue plastic chair and then sat on a gray chair with a donut-shaped headrest. I didn’t any chains, shackles, or restraints.

He poked around in my teeth mentioned I had three missing wisdom teeth — or maybe he said I need to have my wisdom teeth removed.  In any case, he wouldn’t clarify or give me an explanation for it. He told me my teeth were healthy and scheduled me for a cleaning. When I asked why my teeth bleed when I brush—all he said with a forced niceness is that I could need cleaning and could be brushing incorrectly. It felt like I was in and out five minutes. I found out that the balding dentist assistant was just another inmate who hated Blacks. He couldn’t do anything because he would get sent to the hole for being a jerk or for trying to fight someone.

Quality care takes time and all of my visits to medical professionals within the prison camp were rushed and impersonal. No one took the time to really care for me and make me feel like my health was important.

If you have experienced healthcare in the prison system, let me know how you felt in the comments below.