Palko shows the gaping wound oozing pus on the left side of her chest. Photo smuggled from the Franklin County Jail.





MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacterial infection that is resistant to most antibiotics, contagious and potentially deadly. Commonly found in hospitals and afflicting health care workers, it leads to large pusfilled masses on the skin which must be incised and drained. A specific, special antibiotic regime must be followed to cure the infection and prevent blood poisoning. As of the time of this writing, July 24, 2014, according to sources at least one inmate in the Franklin County Jail has this infection, is not being treated as per the orders of doctors at Grant Hospital, and is in the general population with a fist-sized hole in her chest oozing black pus. Pictures smuggled from the jail show the wound without gauze or a bandage on her emaciated body. The pictures are included in this story.

Jennifer Palko has been incarcerated awaiting trial since July 5 on charges related to an allegedly bad check. For nearly two weeks a lump on her side grew. According to medical sources, it should have been recognized and treated by the time it was the size of a golf ball. She was given only aspirin and reprimanded for complaining. It was the size of a softball when she was finally taken Grant Hospital on July 17. Her family, including next of kin, were not notified.

Her sister was finally informed of her hospitalization when on July 19 she attempted to visit. The sister was told she had 15 minutes to get to the hospital and her visit there would be limited to 10 minutes. The sister was not permitted to contact with Palko's attending medical staff. A nurse confidentially told Palko that the jail was pressuring Grant Hospital to release her back to custody early, claiming that her medical care was within the jail's capability.

Palko's sister was unable until July 24 to obtain her medical records, which indicate a very clear regime of post release care. The medical records prescribe antibiotics to be given  twice daily. Palko currently receives her dosage twice and sometimes only once per day. The wound, which is still painful and oozes pus (which Palko claimed in a phone interview today was black), is to be drained, packed in gauze and re-bandaged multiple times per day. These actions are taken once each day in the morning and the bandage often falls off before she is returned to her cell she shares with other inmates.

The Free Press was not the first press outlet contacted by Palko's family and prisoner rights activists. ABC Channel 6 has yet to return any of the family's calls. CBS Channel 10 was reportedly aggressively unsympathetic due to Palko's status as a prisoner, although they later did contact the Sheriff’s office. After the family began providing information to the Free Press, Channel 10 called Palko's sister to assure her that the jail was providing perfectly acceptable care and everything would be fine. The Sheriff’s department has not be as pro-active in communicating with Palko's family.

The Free Press will continue to monitor Palko's status as part of an already initiated ongoing investigation into conditions in the Franklin County Jail. Multiple reports of deaths due to medical neglect have been received and are being followed up on. We will continue to gather documentation from families of inmates and other sources as part of an ongoing project. We will keep the public informed.


Updated 7/30

A zoom in of Palko's wound with contrast enhancements; Palko's side in a photo smuggled from the Franklin County Jail