Woman suing Oregon DOC after mother dies during flu outbreak inside prison
WILSONVILLE, Ore. (KPTV) - A heartbroken woman says her mother died from the flu after an outbreak inside a local prison. Now, she plans to sue the Oregon Department of Corrections for wrongful death.
Mistina Ferri says her mom, Tina, died because the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility failed to treat her flu infection. Her mother had just been sentenced to prison for six years on an assault charge related to a car crash but she only survived a few months.
“It’s not OK, there’s no way they didn’t know she was sick, no way,” said Ferri.
Ferri says her mother became dangerously sick with the flu in January, even coughing up blood while serving time behind bars.
“Why didn’t she come in sooner if it was that bad? How could they not know that she was that sick?” asked Ferri.
The Oregon Department of Corrections confirms a flu outbreak happened at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in January. The epidemic left 44 inmates sick.
“She got the flu, but because it wasn’t treated, she got pneumonia. And because that wasn’t treated she got an infection, which turned into staph, which made her body go septic,” Ferri said.
Ferri says her mother never got a flu shot and continued to suffer in prison without any treatment.
But a DOC spokesperson told FOX 12 they don’t have any written policies on flu vaccinations.
Ferri says on Jan. 14 her family called the prison to check in on Tina, only to find out she was in the hospital. But the prison wouldn’t say why.
“They’re like, ‘oh no, we can’t tell you unless it’s like actually life-threatening,’” she said.
Around 3 a.m. the next day, Ferri got a call from the hospital saying that her mother didn’t have much longer to live.
When Ferri arrived at the hospital, she saw two prison guards standing by her mother, a tube going down her throat, and her hands still in cuffs. Tina, at that point, was so sick she couldn’t speak.
“She couldn’t talk, but she could like look, and like follow me, and she was able to like squeeze my hand. And we stayed there until she passed,” said Ferri.
Ferri told FOX 12 she is suing the Oregon Department of Corrections for wrongful death. In court documents, the doctor writes that Tina was “actively dying” on Jan. 15, “all set in motion due to an Influenza A infection with staph superinfection.”
The DOC says they do have forms available for inmates to fill out and request a flu shot, but Ferri says that is not enough.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else, somebody else’s family,” she said.
The DOC says out of 1,645 inmates at Coffee Creek, 300 people got vaccinated this flu season.
The DOC will usually issue a press release for any unexpected death, but nothing was sent out for Tina Ferri. A spokesperson says that was an oversight.
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