Virginia Prison Ordered to Provide Adequate Medical Care... Again

Jan 3, 2019

It’s been nearly three years since the Virginia Department of Corrections agreed to settle a lawsuit over inadequate medical care for about 1,200 women at the Fluvanna Correctional Center, but a federal court is now scolding the state for its failure to live up to that agreement.

Sherry Richburg was sentenced to 20 months at Fluvanna for a drug offense, but the penalty turned out to be much worse. She needed medication to control a fungal infection she’d contracted after surgery on her leg, but the Department of Corrections failed to provide it on a regular basis. 

As a result, she left prison near death.

The Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women
Credit Virginia Department of Corrections

“When my daughter-in-law would sit me up to try to bathe me, I didn’t even have the strength to sit up.”

In the end, her leg had to be amputated.

This woman, who asked that we not use her name, also had difficulty getting her prescription drugs when she served time for embezzlement.

“I almost made a calendar when my thyroid medicine ran out and how long I had to wait, and I figured they saved money.”

She counted herself lucky, because others – with more serious medical problems, may have died due to inadequate medical care.

Sherry Richburg

“One friend had stomach problems, and they never would take her to UVA, they would just take Pepcid, you know. But after two years they found out that she had colon cancer.”

The state was under a federal court order to make changes, but today a judge is citing what he called “egregious facts and significant breaches” in again ordering the Department of Corrections to hire and train more nurses, assure continuity of medication and improve its medical grievance system.