Political prisoner Richard Mafundi Lake being denied medical attention in Alabama prison following third stroke

Editors Note: Below is an update on the health status of political prisoner Richard Mafundi Lake. Mafundi has been held captive by the colonial authorities in Alabama for the past 31 years because he chose the life of an African freedom fighter. Most recently, Mafundi suffered his third stroke. Here his Support Committee reports on his condition. The report was written by Carol Weyni Njeri Lake, Mafundi's wife of more that 40 years.
 
BIRMINGHAM–On Saturday, April 19, 2014, my husband, Richard Mafundi Lake, was admitted to the infirmary at Donaldson Correction Facility where he is a prisoner. Unfortunately, there is no doctor at this facility on weekends, which could mean that prisoners who have health issues on the weekend may not receive proper care, especially if it is a serious medical problem. (As a matter of fact, 2 prisoners recently died at Donaldson during a weekend when no doctor was present.) Not only that, Mafundi had been without his regular medication for 4 weeks prior to this incident because the medical staff had not ordered his medication when needed. This GROSS INCOMPETENCE and NEGLECT could have contributed to his having another stroke.
 
The attending nurse took vitals and blood pressure and called the doctor by phone who decided to admit him to the infirmary. Since Mafundi had experienced 2 prior strokes, he was sure of what it was. His right side was affected and he was not able to walk normally or use his right arm and hand.
 
Fortunately he was able to call out from the infirmary to let his family know what was going on. Once we got the word that he’d had a stroke, we began calling the facility to inquire about his condition and whether or not he was going to be sent to an outside hospital for care. One thing I do know is that the first hours are critical in diagnosing, treating and reversing a stroke and its effects. Also, a certain protocol needs to be followed when a stroke happens. Needless to say, none of this occurred.
 
The response to our calls was like a circus. One person would say he was not in the infirmary. Another would say he was in the infirmary. One person said he did have a stroke but he was OK. When we asked to speak to the warden, we were told that she was not there and the person in charge would always say they couldn’t give out any information. They finally confirmed that he was in the infirmary and that they would allow him to call us. This went on the whole weekend. When he called us, there were still no tests, no doctor, no hospital and no physical improvement.
 
Next, we had organizations, politicians and others to call and inquire and demand proper treatment. One prison employee who talked to a representative from the Committee for Prisoner Support in Birmingham (CPSB) did call the warden at home and the warden called the infirmary and confirmed that he did have a stroke and was in the infirmary. This employee refused to give her name. The warden also said that the prison only provided security for the infirmary and that Corizon Medical Services is responsible for the health care of the prisoners.
 
We had to pray through the whole weekend, waiting for Monday to come when we thought that a doctor would be there. At the same time we were hoping that Mafundi would not have any serious or permanent medical conditions resulting from the stroke. We asked Mafundi to call as much as possible to let us know how he was doing. He did most of the time, so we were able to keep up with what was going on.
 
However, when Monday came there was no doctor. When we inquired about it, the person we talked to said that the doctor doesn’t come on Mondays ̶ very confusing, I know. Besides still calling the facility several times, we also made calls to the Alabama Department of Corrections and spoke to the office of the Associate Commissioner of Health Services who said they would check into what was going on. Finally Dr. Hood did see him on Tuesday. Still no tests were done to determine the extent of damage the stroke had done. His only response to Mafundi was that he believed he would get over it.
 
On Wednesday, a physical therapist went by and said he had to check with the doctor before he could give Mafundi physical therapy. On Thursday, another doctor went by to see him and gave him an EKG. This doctor told him he was going to send him to an outside hospital the next day. However, it wasn’t until Tuesday, April 29, 10 days after the stroke, that Mafundi was sent to an outside hospital to have a CT scan done. He was returned to the prison infirmary the same day. The stroke was confirmed, but he has yet to receive the detailed information in terms of the type of stroke, etc., from the doctor or the hospital. The physical therapist did some exercises with him for his leg and gave him some exercises to do on his own for his arm. No additional medication was prescribed. He is only taking the medication he took before the stroke occurred.
 
Mafundi was released from the infirmary on Monday, May 5 and sent back to his cell. He’s doing his best to get around, sometimes having to use a wheel chair. He’s having  a hard time writing but is trying. If you haven’t heard from him in a while it’s because of this stroke, which has limited him in writing letters.
 
Our daughters, Assata Shakur and Maia Nefertari, and I were allowed to visit with him on April 26 with the doctor’s permission. He was still in the infirmary, but was brought to the visiting yard in a wheel chair. We visited again on May 24. He was better.
 
I apologize to all who I did not contact to let you know what was going on with us. I hope you understand. We still need your help in complaining about the poor health care for Mafundi as well as prisoners in Alabama and across America. I will be letting you know soon how we plan to proceed regarding this incident. If you have any information that might help us, please send it. I’m so thankful that it wasn’t worse. The threat of these strokes continuing to occur is, however, frightening. The Alabama prison system doesn’t seem to care about the healthcare of its prisoners. But we are holding them totally responsible for Mafundi’s health care while he’s incarcerated. Furthermore, prisoners are now being charged for medical care at Donaldson. Mafundi discovered this when he was charged $4.00 for his stroke, which is another injustice.
 
You may send donations and stamps to the above address to help us in our plight. Thank you for your past, present and future support. We must continue to fight for those who are imprisoned and especially for those who are unjustly incarcerated for their political beliefs.
 
THIRTY-ONE YEARS IS MUCH TOO LONG TO BE LOCKED UP!!!
FREE RICHARD MAFUNDI LAKE AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!!!
 
For more information and to make financial contributions to the Mafundi defense effort contact: Mafundi Lake Support Committee, P.O. Box 12152, Birmingham, Al 35202. Phone 205-326-3204 or email mafundi.lake@yahoo.com.

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