Prisoner dies at Clermont County Jail

February 10th, 2008    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

A man died Sunday in the Clermont County jail of a suspected heart attack as he was serving time for a DUI offense.

Charles J. Farsing, 53, was serving time for the offense and was scheduled to be released on Oct. 3, but died late Feb. 3. According Sheriff Tim Rodenberg, jail staff members attempted emergency first aid, but the effort was in vain. Farsing was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital Clermont. A post-mortem investigation will be performed by the Hamilton County Coroner.

“Fortunately, this doesn’t occur very often,” said Sheriff Rodenberg. “When you have 300 people living in one place, they’re going to have the same problems that any group of 300 people would have; medical issues, mental health issues, physical issues. They’re on medications for all kinds of maladies. You name it, they’ve got it, and compared to the rest of the population, maybe more so. Most of them are down on their luck, they don’t take care of themselves, and may be alcohol or substance abusers.”

According to Sheriff Rodenberg, the county pays nearly $1 million a year to contract for medical staff for the jail. A nurse is at the facility around the clock, with other medical staff standing on-call should the need arise.

"We contract for medical services through a national medical provider," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "They provide doctors, nurses and psychologists, but they're not there all the time. They're on-call, but we do have a nurse there 24/7. We rely on people coming in to give us information. We ask them if they have any medical issues that they need treatment for. Most of the time, they tell us the truth, but in some cases we find out that they've not been truthful. We have to keep an eye on them, and we do our best. We want the people who come to our facility to do the time they need to do and leave in good condition."

Sheriff Rodenberg said that caring for the inmates can be tricky at times. Often, the inmates don't provide truthful information about conditions they may suffer from. In other instances, the medications they are taking can't be taken in stressful situations, necessitating that a substitute medication be prescribed. Should an inmate fall sick, Sheriff Rodenberg said that any steps necessary are taken, including trips to the hospital, which may require a round-the-clock guard. In some instance, inmates may be furloughed to allow them to go to the hospital of their own accord. According to Sheriff Rodenberg, if the inmate doesn't have health insurance, the county is stuck footing any bills for a hospital stay.

"If there is an emergency, we call 911 immediately," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "We don't wait, and we do what we can for first aid, like we did in this case. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. If it's routine, we set them up with a doctor for a scheduled visit. If they have to go to the hospital, we'll take them in the van and wait with them. If they have to stay, we could leave a deputy with them 24 hours a day, which we've not had to do often."

Despite this most recent incident, Sheriff Rodenberg said that deaths are rare, and never the result of mistreatment. Sometimes, he said, an inmate may commit suicide, which is guarded against, but incidents otherwise come from medical conditions, such as heart attacks.

"We've never had anyone die that was the result of something we did to them," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "We've never done anything to cause someone to die. We have had a few suicides over the years, which is unfortunate. We have to watch for that and we rely on their mental health profile some. We do our best to watch them. The inmates even watch each other, and in some cases where an inmate has been in distress, another has brought it to our attention. So they do help out. We've been fortunate; other places have had horrible luck with deaths and suicides in their jails. We're probably on the lower end of the spectrum, but if you are going to have a heart attack, you could have it anywhere."

Sheriff Rodenberg said that the investigation will be conducted to ensure that there was no foul play involved.

"If the time to pass on arrives, it will happen if it's at home or in jail," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "We've had a few since I've been sheriff, about one every two years. They've mostly been heart attacks. We have it investigated, the coroner looks into it, and the individual usually has a history of something. We've never had a mysterious death, one that we couldn't figure out why they died. There's never been a criminal act involved, it's just a part of life."
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