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Questions linger after Johnson County Jail inmate's death

Posted: 7:34 PM, Mar 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-28 21:33:29-04

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — "It's just too much of a reminder," Jeremy Price says.

He's standing in his Kansas City apartment, sifting through his roommate Wanda Kendrick's belongings. There's a white lace shirt, piles of skirts and purses.

"She liked to be in style," Price says and smiles.

Kendrick collapsed in her Johnson County Jail cell in early March. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died four-and-a-half hours later.

"She was a very, very, very kind soul. She's always been there for me, and I've always been there for her when life was hard, you know," Price said through tears.

Some of her belongings left behind at the apartment are an indication of just how hard life had become for Kendrick. On Price's bed, he laid out bottle after bottle of prescription medications for high blood pressure, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic pain from a back injury.

She was carrying some of those meds when an officer arrested her for allegedly stealing from a beauty supply store in Lenexa. But Price believes she never got the medications during her 8-day stint in jail.

"Everything has to go through their facility. Everything has to be given by their facility. Everything has to be distributed by their facility," Price lamented.

In most cases, that's true. 

Healthcare in the Johnson County Jail

Because their investigation is ongoing, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office wouldn't comment on Kendrick's death. However, the jail did provide some of its detention directives, although pages were removed for "safety and security reasons."

 

 

 

One of the directives reads, "inmate personal medication will not be dispensed unless the medical staff determines it to be an urgent medical necessity."

According to another directive, health services staff must perform a medical screening on all inmates upon arrival. Information is recorded on an approved screening form, which we asked the jail to provide. Staff referred us to Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the private company that handles inmate healthcare at the Johnson County Jail and facilities in 37 other states, including the Jackson County Jail. 

The company denied our request, writing that the form and other policies and procedures we requested were "trade secrets." After asking the Johnson County Sheriff's Office for the form multiple times, they also declined to release it. 

A spokesman for Prulock Communications, which represents CCS, did answer some of our questions about obtaining prescriptions within the jail.

"As soon as a patient's prescription is verified, the medical staff places a pharmacy order. Depending on the type of medication, it is either ordered from our contracted pharmacy vendor to arrive the next day or is picked up at a local pharmacy that same day," Jim Cheney wrote.

Of course, the main time factor there is how long it takes for a patient's prescription to be verified. Both the jail and CCS said medical staff is there 24/7.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office also provided a detailed schedule for physicians. According to Maj. Michael Raunig:

  • a physician is present 8 hours per week at Central Booking, and a nurse practitioner is also there 8 hours each week. Because women are held at the facility, an OBGYN is also there 4 hours each week. 
  • At the New Century Detention facility, physicians are present 8 hours each week and nurse practitioners are there 24 hours a week.

Kendrick's Death

How long the process took for Kendrick to get her medications remains to be seen. Her autopsy report lists enlargement of the heart as the cause of death. It also lists complications of a remote gastric bypass procedure as a probable contributing condition.

According to the report, someone witnessed Kendrick collapse and she was transported to a hospital. While there, lab results indicated she was in massive kidney failure. While staff tried to insert a dialysis catheter, Kendrick suffered a second cardiac arrest and died.

The coroner made no reference to Kendrick's medications in the report, and under "recent attending physician," it just says "unknown."

Jeremy Price and Kendrick's son aren't satisfied with the answers they've received so far. They're considering taking legal action.

"This isn't about money. This isn't about any of that because I could care less. I'm angry," Price said.