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Coroner's office investigating death
Convict's cut bled profusely, inmate says

Man, 20, died of blood poisoning
Sep. 5, 2003.

PENETANGUISHENE—According to a fellow inmate, the cut on Jeffrey Elliott's hand wasn't that big originally.

It just wouldn't stop bleeding. How this cut, sustained at Canada's first privately run jail, led to the 20-year-old's death from blood poisoning weeks later is being investigated by the coroner's office and provincial police.

Bruce Glenn was in the cell next to Elliott at the Central North Correctional Centre. Glenn, who's awaiting trial, said the cut on Elliott's ring finger of his left hand was one-centimetre long and not very deep.

"He came to me and asked for some tissue because it kept bleeding," said Glenn in a telephone interview from the jail.

"It bled constantly, he kept asking to go up to medical but they didn't bother to take him for maybe two or three days and by the time they did, an infection had got into his hand, it was all swollen up," said Glenn.

The inmates were on lockdown Aug. 1, but Elliott was allowed out to go for a shower and stopped to complain to his other neighbour who was "going buggy and yelling because he was locked up," said Glenn.

"Jeffrey put his hand on the food hatch and the other inmate tried to kick it away and he got cut on the sharp metal edge of the hatch," said Glenn.

Dr. Paul Humphries, the senior medical consultant to the Public Safety and Security Ministry, confirmed Elliott cut his hand on a food hatch on Aug. 1 and was treated.

Humphries didn't specify when Elliott first received medical attention, but said that when the hand didn't heal, he was seen by a specialist in Barrie on Aug. 12. He went back to the specialist on Aug. 18 and was admitted to Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie for three days before being returned to jail.

Overnight on Aug. 25, he was sent to a Midland hospital before being airlifted to Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died on Aug. 29.

Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease expert at Toronto General Hospital, said it's "very rare" for a healthy, young person to die from a cut hand if it's properly treated. A deep cut needs immediate washing and if there is any chance that dirt got into the wound, a course of antibiotics is usually ordered by a doctor "right away," said Gardam.

However, even if all the proper medical procedures are followed, blood poisoning and even death can occur if virulent bacteria enter the wound, said Gardam.

Elliott's death occurred just months after the then-head of the emergency department at the nearby hospital told the Star inmates at the prison arrive writhing in agony because they haven't received proper medication at the jail.

These comments echo others made previously by judges, lawyers and activists, who claimed that the for-profit institution guaranteed its bottom-line results by minimizing inmate care. The institution denied those accusations and stated that its medical care, which was contracted out, was found adequate in two separate audits and met the standards of its contract with the province.

Doug Thomson, who runs the jail for U.S.-based Management Training Company, sent his condolences to the Elliott family, but said he couldn't comment further due to the ongoing investigations.Elliot had 23 days of his one-year sentence for robbery left to serve.His funeral was held yesterday in Pembroke.

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