A judge has extended an order requiring federal prison officials to ensure medical care for a Surry County breast-cancer patient serving time in Alabama.
According to court papers, Angela Michelle Beck, 47, found a lump in her left breast in August or September 2017 while she was taking a shower at the Federal Correctional Institute in Aliceville, Ala. She was examined by a prison doctor in October 2017 and had a mammogram in December 2017.
It took eight months, however, before she got a biopsy, according to a lawsuit she filed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina. A cancer specialist with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said in court papers that she should have had a biopsy within one to two months after she detected a lump.
Beck didn’t get surgery to remove her left breast until two months after the biopsy, court papers said. It would take another five months before she met with an oncologist for follow-up treatment, according to the lawsuit. By that time, she had found two lumps in her right breast.
Beck is serving 13 years and nine months for drug and firearms offenses connected to a large-scale methamphetamine operation in Surry County.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order in May to ensure that Beck got the medical care she needed. On Monday, she extended that order until June 24.
The lawsuit is seeking a preliminary injunction that would permanently ensure medical care for Beck. Separately, an attorney in her criminal case has filed a motion for compassionate release. If that is approved, Beck would be released from federal prison based on her medical condition.
Eagles held a hearing on both issues on June 5 in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, but she has not made a decision.
The order Eagles extended on Monday would require federal prison officials to coordinate with outside medical providers so that Beck can have a particular test that an oncologist had ordered in April. Federal prison officials also would be required to make sure Beck is transported to all existing medical appointments.
They also have to ensure that, within 72 hours, any “follow-up tests, procedures, treatment, or appointments ordered, recommended, or indicated to be ordered by the treating physician are scheduled or implemented.”
Eagles said that the “longstanding failure of the Bureau of Prisons to provide timely medical care for Ms. Beck’s breast cancer” provides good cause for the extension of the order.
At the June 5 hearing, Joan Brodish Childs, a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, didn’t specifically deny Beck’s allegations but said Beck did not exhaust administrative remedies within the federal prison system.
She also argued that it would not make sense for a federal judge to manage medical care in a complex process that includes having to coordinate transportation for inmates to and from outside doctors.
She also said that, in the last two months, federal prison officials have successfully made sure Beck has been taken to all her scheduled appointments with medical providers.