Society

Xavier Scullark-Johnson Dies After Private Prison "Cut Costs" By Denying Him Medical Care

| by Michael Allen

The mother of Xavier Scullark-Johnson is suing the Rush City prison in Minnesota, after her son was denied emergency care by a prison nurse in June 2010.

According to new documents obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Scullark-Johnson had already suffered numerous seizures the night that prison nurse Denise L. Garin turned away an ambulance that a doctor had ordered to be sent for the inmate.

Garin canceled the on-call doctor's order because “protocol” stated that ambulance transports were to be “strictly monitored” in an effort to “cut costs.”

Nurse Garin described Scullark-Johnson as “alert, his vital signs were stable, and he responded appropriately,” but the ambulance crew’s report indicated serious problems, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“They say the patient has had three seizures through the night,” a crew member wrote in her June 29, 2010, report. “They believe that he has a seizure [history] but do not know because health services is closed at night. They did not want patient transported.

“They have protocols to deal with the patient,” her notes continue, “and say this is because patient has recently gotten his Dilantin cut in half.”

Dilantin is a drug used to control seizures. An autopsy later showed that Johnson’s Dilantin was “below therapeutic level,” but there is no mention in Garin’s charting why she refused to let the ambulance crew take him to the hospital to have his Dilantin level checked immediately.

Johnson was pronounced dead less than two hours after the ambulance was ordered to leave without him. He was found soaked in urine on the floor of his cell, in a fetal position after seizures had caused irreversible brain damage. Garin continues to work as a nurse in the Rush City prison.