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  • Rich Klein


An inmate at Sullivan County Jail with coronavirus -who told The SullivanTimes during an interview on Friday that jail officials had ignored his complaints since last Wednesday about chest pains - was finally examined yesterday (Saturday) by a nurse in the new facility.

The man who was treated was James Konidis, 38, who spoke with The SullivanTimes by telephone from the jail along with Anthony Shackelford, 50, who has also tested positive for the virus. Shackelford said on Friday that he was having difficulty breathing but it's unclear at this time if he has since received medical attention.

(In 2014, Shackelford was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including assault and attempted assault on police officers while trying to evade capture after his vehicle was pulled over in Monticello and crack cocaine was found in his possession).

According to Konidis' mother, Kathy Stark, the nurse at the jail on Saturday took his blood pressure and it was recorded at 140 over 105, which is considered high.

"They are giving him Advil for the pain in his chest around his heart, nasal spray for wheezing and another inhaler and Mucinex but still not taking him to a hospital to have an X-ray or EKG," Stark said.

A lawsuit filed on May 29 against Sheriff Michael Schiff and Anthony Annucci, the state's acting Corrections commissioner, alleged:

"For emergent medical needs, detainees are expected to fill out a sick call slip, which is picked up during the twice-daily rounds. If the sick call is approved by the medical staff, the sick caller is supposed to receive a visit from medical within 24 to 48 hours. Sick call requests

related to known COVID-19 signs or symptoms are routinely ignored by jail staff. As a matter of course, sick call requests can only be transmitted to medical staff via corrections officers, who sometimes fail or refuse to relay such requests."

Konidis is being held on a criminal trespass charge and was ordered to stay away from Robert E. Decker . (See document below).

Justin Ellis, another inmate from the former jail's G Block who tested positive for coronavirus, in late May also complained about the lack of concern among jail officials for his medical condition.

In a late May letter to his wife (below) obtained by The SullivanTimes, Ellis said that the medical team told him he probably had "acid reflux" after he complained about chest pains and difficulty breathing.

Last summer, Ellis was arrested in Liberty and later indicted on charges that he was in possession of 1,000 bags of heroin.

The County Legislature and Public Health Director Nancy McGraw have been largely silent about coronavirus cases there and how they are being treated.

The County produced and posted a video on Friday, June 5 that included interviews with Schiff and Undersheriff Eric Chaboty a few hours after the 68 inmates were moved from the old jail on Bushnell Avenue and the new, $101 million facility on Old Route 17 in Monticello.

The first coronavirus case in the jail (Bushnell Avenue) was reported on May 11. By May 18, approximately 33 inmates had tested positive plus at least four correction officers. According to a report last month in Spectrum News, Chaboty said that the virus likely was brought into the jail by a correctional officer.

As The SullivanTimes previously reported, it was not until the second week of April that correction officers and inmates were given protective masks , even though some officers pleaded to be allowed to wear masks. Some 500 masks were donated to the Sheriff's Office for use in the jail in mid April by local attorneys.

On April 1, Annucci reversed the state's decision (a move pushed by State Senator Jen Metzger) and permitted the wearing of masks inside state prisons.

"After extensive discussions with the various bargaining unit representatives, in order to continue to protect staff and the incarcerated population from the virus entering or leaving our facilities, effective immediately, staff will be permitted to wear either an N95 respirator or a surgical-type mask while on duty inside of the correctional facility," Annucci said.

Below: Order of Protection and charge against James Konidis; letter from Justin Ellis to his wife


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