The Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility was placed on lockdown Friday after an inmate came down with a serious illness that has yet to be diagnosed, Director of the Bureau of Corrections Julius Wilson said.
According to the medical staff of the prison, the male inmate complained last week of a loss of appetite as well as stomach and muscular pain. A staff physician prescribed medication for the symptoms but the inmate did not show any improvement and medical staff transferred him the Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.
“This is an isolated case at this time, however all precautions are being taken to ensure staff and prison population safety," Wilson said.
The Bureau of Corrections implemented its Emergency Operational Plan, placing the facility on lockdown until further notice. All inmate movement, activities, visits and programs have been suspended until physicians determine the type of illness contracted by the inmate and its potential to spread through the prison’s population.
The Department of Health assisted and augmented the BOC medical staff in the treatment, counseling and dissemination of information to staff and inmates, according to the statement from the bureau, and the department’s territorial infectious disease specialist was consulted.
“Based on the symptoms and prior knowledge of the inmate’s medical history, it is possible that this may be a case of meningitis. However, it has not been confirmed nor determined at this time, as the medical professionals continue to evaluate the patient,” Wilson said.
Meningitis can be caused by viral or bacterial or other microorganisms. Bacterial and viral meningitis are contagious, although according to the Centers for Disease Control, neither is as contagious as the common cold or flu. Both can be transmitted through droplets of respiratory secretions during close contact, but cannot be spread by only breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. Meningitis can be life-threatening because it causes an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges.
During the lockdown, Golden Grove remains open to all law enforcement agencies and will continue accepting arrestees committed to the facility.
The medical staff is composed of Dr. Carmine Williams-Hendricks and the BOC staff nurses and physicians. Williams-Hendricks is overseeing the entire operation with assistance from the infectious disease specialist from the Department of Health.