(MOBILE, Ala.) - A woman is looking for answers from the Washington County Sheriff's Office after she said her brother received less than adequate medical attention under their care.
42-year-old Michael Tidwell suffered a diabetic coma for 20 hours at the Springhill Medical Center ICU Wednesday. His sister claimed Washington County Jail staff refused him medical attention. A sheriff's department spokesperson said they did all they could for the 42-year-old inmate, but said they cannot afford the medical resources that other jails have.
Tidwell was discharged from Springhill Medical Center Friday morning. Authorities said his blood sugar was off the charts when we was granted a medical bond from the Washington County Jail to a local hospital early Wednesday morning.
Tidwell's sister, Michelle Alford, a registered nurse of 19 years, said, for a time, she didn't know where her brother was, and claims neither did Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer.
"He's an elected official," Alford said. "People put their trust in him, and he had no idea where one of his prisoners was.
"I happened to have a friend in the medical field in Chatom who told me that all the hospitals in Mobile were on diversion except for SpringHill so that's how I found out he was at Springhill Hospital."
Alford, familiar with her brother's condition, brought Tidwell's medication to the Washington County Jail last week when he was booked for violating his parole.
"He didn't show up for December and January so he should have been in jail," Alford said. "I don't have a problem with that issue. My problem is that he was in jail, and they totally disregarded his right to medical care."
Alford said her brother had several medical problems, and needed a daily regiment of medication including insulin injections for a severe case of diabetes. She said he needed to have his blood sugar checked every four hours.
"I was assured he would be monitored, and he wasn't," Alford said. "You don't just go from a normal blood sugar to 1,500. It takes several days to get to that level."
Authorities said Tuesday night an inmate in Tidwell's cell yelled for help when Tidwell began showing signs of nausea.
"We knew that he had a high blood sugar, and so there was no question he needed to go to the hospital," Washington County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Shane Thornton said.
Thornton admits they don't have records of Tidwell being monitored every four hours, but said his medical regiment was carefully noted by jailers.
"The jailer that's responsible, or on shift that day, gives the inmate the medicine, and she stands there while the inmate self-administers that medicine," Thornton said.
But Thornton said the jailers are not doctors or nurses, and wouldn't know if a diabetic inmate truly injected themselves properly.
"He was given the pin, he adjusted the dose as he was prescribed to do and he self injected the medicine," Thornton said. "There is a possibility that he never did give himself a shot, and maybe was using that as an excuse to get out of jail by letting his sugar go up.
"Those (cases) we're trying to look into, but we don't have the expertise as to how those injectors work and how to look into them."
When asked why relatives weren't notified where Tidwell was hospitalized, Thornton said it is hard to track inmates when they post bond even for medical purposes.
"Once an inmate's released from custody, then where he goes after that point is up to him," Thornton said.
Michelle Alford said she wants to make sure what happened to her brother doesn't happen to any inmate ever again.
"I'm not asking for them to be treated like they're in a four-star resort because they are prisoners, but they have rights," Alford said. "They have human rights just like anybody else does."
Authorities said Michael Tidwell will face a judge for the parole violation in May instead of next week so he can have time to tend to his medical needs.