Thursday, February 21, 2008

And Here in Oregon

From Willamette Week...

In a civil-rights lawsuit filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Portland, former inmate Travis Putnam claims he suffered festering bedsores that went ignored for nearly a year by prison doctors.

A Wasco County judge sentenced Putnam, 34, to 18 months in prison on Jan. 10, 2006, after Putnam pleaded guilty to one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.

According to the lawsuit, Putnam is quadriplegic, with no use of his legs and minimal use of his hands and arms. The lawsuit says he developed large open sores on his buttocks and the backs of his heels from prolonged time spent in his wheelchair while he was incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Facility in Ontario from March 2006 to February 2007.

Putnam sought help from Dr. Garth Gulick, a prison physician at Snake River. But according to the lawsuit, Gulick showed "deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical condition."
When Putnam was transferred on Feb. 10, 2007, to the Oregon State Prison in Salem, the lawsuit says he was "delirious and in extreme pain as a result of the open sores on his backside and heels." But the lawsuit says Dr. John Vargo, a prison physician at OSP, again refused to treat him.

Putnam was released on Feb. 16, 2007. According to the lawsuit he was immediately admitted to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for the bedsores, which had grown up to five centimeters in diameter. Afterward he underwent seven months of treatment and rehabilitation, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, filed by Portland lawyer Donald Dartt, names Gulick and Vargo as defendants. It seeks $75,500 for medical expenses plus other damages to be determined at trial.

Chane Griggs, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Corrections, declined to comment.

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