Woman Sues Centre County Correctional Facility over ‘Abhorrent’ Conditions, Failure to Provide Medical Treatment

Woman Sues Centre County Correctional Facility over ‘Abhorrent’ Conditions, Failure to Provide Medical Treatment

Woman Sues Centre County Correctional Facility over ‘Abhorrent’ Conditions, Failure to Provide Medical Treatment

A former inmate at the Centre County Correctional Facility alleges failure by staff to provide proper medical treatment led to severe complications that required emergency heart surgery and a four-month hospital stay.

Jessica Tressler, 34, claims in a federal lawsuit filed on Friday that she was subjected to “abhorrent” conditions and “shameful” actions by corrections and medical staff during her 17 days at the facility in April 2022 for a probation violation.

The lawsuit names as defendants the county, the correctional facility and PrimeCare Medical, the county’s contracted medical provider for the jail, along with 16 individual facility and medical staff members.

Tressler “was not properly treated for opiate withdrawal and a urinary tract infection,” attorney Brian Zeiger wrote, and “was labeled as a drug-seeking faker throughout her incarceration.”

According to the complaint, Tressler had “severely elevated” blood pressure and an acknowledged urinary tract infection, but staff provided little or no medical care, even after she was found unconscious and revived with smelling salts. Tressler says she was offered increased doses of Tylenol and Gatorade and was told she needed to walk, despite telling staff members she could not feel her legs.

Staff stopped bringing her medications to her cell and told her she needed to walk to get them, according to the complaint, and Tressler says she missed about 30 meals during her incarceration because she was unable to walk.

During the second week of her stay, staff found Tressler “unclothed, listless and mumbling,” Zeiger wrote. When she urinated on herself, she was placed in a restraint chair, hosed off in a shower and given a Gatorade, according to the lawsuit.

Two days later, Tressler claims, she was left lying in urine and feces for five hours after requesting help before staff entered and took her to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

At the hospital, she was diagnosed with internal bleeding, septic shock, a blood infection, pneumonia and endocarditis in two heart valves, Zeiger wrote. Tressler was placed on a ventilator and later flown by helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center, where she had open heart surgery to replace two valves and a second surgery due to an infection in a heart valve.

The five-count lawsuit, which alleges constitutional violations and negligence, seeks total damages of $25 million.

The county and PrimeCare “have a long and distinguished history of denying inmates medical treatment,” Zeiger wrote, citing three lawsuits that were ultimately dismissed and another that is still pending.

Centre County’s most recent five-year contract with PrimeCare was signed in 2021 for more than $1 million per year.

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