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Anniston man who sued over medical treatment while incarcerated dies

Patrick Neal, who was paralyzed after failed attempts to get medical help, leaves behind four children.

Limestone Correctional Facility (VIA GOOGLE)

An Anniston man who was suing medical providers after he became paralyzed while incarcerated in Alabama has died. 

Patrick Neal, 27, died Tuesday, according to Neal’s attorney, Bruce Downey, and sister, Terilaine Wheeler. Neal had been at UAB in Birmingham, where doctors found a tumor on his spine, Wheeler, told APR in May

Neal had tried for two months to get medical help while in Limestone prison for severe pain, partial paralysis in his legs and loss of bodily control, according to the suit. 

Neal was taken from Limestone Correctional Facility to Crestwood Medical Center in July 2019, where nurses accused him of faking his condition, but less than 24 hours later his rare neurological condition resulted in permanent paralysis, according to court records. 

The suit names the hospital, one of its doctors and two nurses as defendants. Additional defendants are Wexford Health Sources, the Pittsburgh-based medical provider contracted with the Alabama Department of Corrections to care for incarcerated people in state prisons. 

The suit also names as defendants nurses and medical doctors employed by Wexford, and the Madison County provider Emergency Medical Associates, contracted by Wexford to provide emergency room care for Limestone prisoners. 

On May 29, 2019, Neal submitted his first of five written requests seeking medical care to learn what was causing him weakness, partial paralysis and pain in his abdomen and lower back, according to the suit. 

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“I really am worried because I don’t know the cause of these symptoms,” Neal wrote in one request. “I just need test run to figure out what’s going on with me” 

In at least 11 unfruitful visits to the prison’s infirmary, and a trip to the outside hospital, Neal never got the medical care he needed, according to the suit. 

After being released from prison on Oct. 30, 2019, Neal lost all use of his upper body and developed severe complications, including heart and respiratory failure, resulting in prolonged hospitalizations.

“He just cries to me. I’ll never be able to teach my son how to play basketball, never be able to throw a football with my son and teach him how to play football,” Wheeler told APR in May. “I’ll never be able to be an active father. He just cries all the time, because he’s just like, my life is over. I’m just stuck to a bed.” 

Wheeler, reached on Tuesday, told APR in a message that she’s “heartbroken and devastated.” 

“Because I feel like his death could have been prevented had he received the prompt and appropriate medical attention that he needed,” Wheeler said. 

“While this case is about seeking justice and accountability for Patrick’s needless pain and suffering, he hopes that it will shine a light on the unconstitutional and inhumane health care being provided within Alabama’s correctional institutions and help bring about change,” Downey said in May. 

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Neal had four children, a son born just before he entered prison in 2015.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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