Monday, October 10, 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Pelican Bay, Dr. Michael Sayre... medical neglect and abuse of prisoners

Hi all,  I just sent this email to an investigative reporter for the New York Times....


Hi there,

Julie Tackett here, Ron Ahnen of California Prison Focus introduced us via email.  We spoke briefly by phone about letters sent to me by Pelican Bay hunger striker Bryan.

I believe that there is an investigative story surrounding the credentials of Dr. Michael Sayer, Chief Medical Officer of Pelican Bay State Prison (CA) and the medical care provided there. 

Below is an excerpt from Bryan's June 21, 2011 letter to me, providing detailed information about disciplinary sanctions Sayre has received over the years.  Bryan stresses over and over how the inmates are terrified of this man.  In visit he told me that the legal right to invade his body under the ruse of "force feeding" allows the opportunity for incredible torture.  Personally, I have had two friends who had a tube down their nose for medical purposes and even with the most gentle approach, it was horrible and painful...imagine if a mean-spirited, "let's break this prison hunger strike" application of this technique were used! 

Here is the information Bryan sent me
on June 21 as we were preparing for the upcoming July hunger strike.  I had told him about my being in Crescent City camping during the hunger strike and that all family and friends could to contact me for support, etc.  We also spoke of my growing connection with the coalition, etc.  He went back to the pod and shared all that with the guys in his area.  Here is what the men discussed and asked him to share with me.....

6-21-11 letter from Bryan to Julie

".....They also really wanted me to press our concern regarding "Doctor" Michael C. Sayre, "M.D."  We think it could be helpful to you to look into the Dept. of Health Professional Licensing Services Medical Investigations Unit's, Confidential Investigative Report, Prepared for the Medical Disciplinary Board, Case #92-11-0022MD.

On 7-7-92 an inmate at the Walla Walla State Penitentiary (Washington State)  sustained a fractured right ankle and Dr. Scott Hutson scheduled him for surgery.  In short, Michael Sayre was the anesthesiologist at St. Mary Medical Center and ended up being directly responsible for the inmate's death.  According to hospital Quality Assurance reports (pg.83), mechanical ventilation of this patient did not occur because the machine was never turned on resulting in sever hypoxic cerebral damage.  This story was reported in the Union-Bulletin as well on Sun, Sept. 20, 1992.  The victim was Leonard Stephens.

It would also be diligent to ask CPF if they have any information on Sayre's involvement in the forced feeding of a mentally ill man here which drew a complaint and if they have a copy of the declaration of Everett D. Allen, MD? Believe me when I tell you that any person who cared even in the slightest about basic human decency would be shocked at two or three of these complaints but the totality of it all floors me that this man still works in health care.

We're horrified at the inevitability that this man will be directly responsible for our care once we reach the depth of the strike.  (emphasis mine) But I personally will not be deterred from my commitment to prove to this administration that I've taken my last meal under these conditions, as of the 1st, even if it means almost certain physical abuse and disregard of humane care at this man's hands.  All I can do is hope that your voice at that point is heard.  It could really make the difference we've discussed.  But I'm not fooling myself...this will be brutal. Soft handed or hard...."

At that time, I tried to look up the news article andthink I passed on the info to someone at the coalition, but this was June, and no one really knew what was happening at that time.  I'm regretting that I dropped the ball on investigating Sayre, but perhaps now is the time to do it and there are better investigative minds who can followup on the information Bryan provided.

Additionally, there have been many substantiated reports that Sayre is denying medical care to inmates at the direction of the Institutional Gang Investigations Unit and that he is withholding medication from the hunger strikers of Pelican Bay.   An update posted October 7 at the “Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity” website stated that “medical conditions are also worsening for strikers throughout the state. We’ve received reports that after 12 days of no food, prisoners are once again losing severe weight and fainting. One hunger striker at Pelican Bay was denied his medication and consequently suffered from a heart attack and is now is an outside hospital in Oregon.”

Bryan required a 5 day stay at the hospital due to complications from the July hunger strike and is one of the hunger strikers who has recently been moved to Administrative Segregation, with only a jumpsuit, thin mattress and thin blanket.  With temperatures in Crescent City in the low 50's, Pelican Bay is running the air conditioner full blast in AdSeg.

 It is getting late in the game, the hunger strikers will be reaching conditions requiring artificial nourishment with a week so we are going to be confronted with this soon.   I'm hoping you find this a timely and newsworthy investigative piece. 

Julie Tackett


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