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Va. inmate’s medical needs in purse: Family: Information was available to jail staff before she died

RICHMOND, Va. Richmond City Jail officials said inmate Pamela L. Bayne did not tell them about her medical needs before her death, but detailed medical information was in her purse, family and friends said yesterday.

Bayne’s 17-year-old daughter said the purse contained six written prescriptions, two pages of medication instructions and a handwritten note detailing her medical needs.

Jennifer “Nikki” Watts said she found them when she picked up her mother’s purse from jail last week on the day she learned her mother died — 13 days after she passed away on June 2.

Sheriff C.T. Woody said jail officials had tried to call the emergency number Bayne had provided after her May 27 arrest, and that investigators later found the address she gave for her next of kin had not been the family residence for two months.

But Watts said she and her 18-year-old brother Neil have lived in the home all their lives. Watts, a rising senior at Meadowbrook High School, received a recruitment letter from Liberty University there yesterday shortly before leaving for her mother’s funeral.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t come to the house,” said Angie Smith, a childhood friend of Bayne’s.

“When I had someone die and needed to get hold of a relative in Florida, I called down there and they sent deputies to the door to tell her,” Smith said.

Woody yesterday repeated his view that jail officials handled Bayne’s care and notification of her family properly, and declined to comment further.

But family and friends said they had dozens of unanswered questions that the sheriff’s office isn’t answering.

Smith said Bayne was always careful to take her medications and to keep her prescriptions filled.

“She knew what she had to do,” Smith said.

Her psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Holland, also said Bayne appeared to be responsible when it came to taking her medicine and filling her prescriptions.

“Unless her state of mind was totally different at that time from when I saw her, I can’t imagine she would not have notified them” about her prescriptions, he said.

Holland, who has been Bayne’s psychiatrist since September 2005, said that he never received a call from Richmond City Jail officials stating that his patient was incarcerated. He also was not contacted after Bayne died June 2.

Smith said she is afraid Bayne suffered a seizure, which can happen when someone suddenly stops taking anti-depressants, and wasn’t cared for in time.

She had collapsed that afternoon after screaming for about a half an hour. Shortly after she stopped screaming, deputies found her on the floor of her isolation cell, and began CPR. Emergency medical services staff members transported her to the hospital 35 minutes after that.

“Even if you heard a dog yelping and crying and screaming, you would rush it to the vet, you would try to find out what was wrong,” Watts said.

Bayne was arrested May 27 in connection with the assault of an emergency medical technician.

Woody this week said Bayne refused to cooperate with jail medical staff when she was admitted and did not tell them she was prescribed medicine. Bayne’s boyfriend, John Tusso, who was in jail at the same time Bayne was, said he left notes every day asking deputies to check to make sure Bayne was getting her medications.

Bayne’s prescriptions — also detailed in two pages of medical-care instructions from Retreat Hospital that she carried in her purse — included medication for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure and infection. Bayne was discharged from Retreat May 14 after a 10-day stay for pneumonia.

Woody said deputies do search inmates’ purses and property looking for contraband and weapons but do not go through their papers.

Bayne was pronounced dead June 2 just minutes after arriving at VCU Medical Center from the jail.

Holland said he has asked for a copy of Bayne’s autopsy. The state Medical Examiner’s Office still lists her cause and manner of her death as pending.

Bayne had a hard life, Holland said. Her mother drowned in an apparent suicide. Her marriage also broke up, and she did not live with her two children.

Bayne and Tusso had lived together in a boarding house in Oregon Hill and more recently on Freeman Street in Carytown. They survived just above homelessness, Holland said.

“She didn’t have much going for her,” Holland said

Watts said she saw her mother last on Mothers’ Day — the day before her discharge from hospital — and was worried that she hadn’t heard from her for so long. Watts learned of her mother’s death when Tusso called her at her supermarket job.

“She had a rough time,” Watts said. “But she loved her family . . . her family was her life . . . she said: ‘You promise me you’ll never give up on me, and I promised. I’ll never give up on her.'”