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May 21, 2019

Rikers inmate in wheelchair worried he’ll be moved from medical unit into general population

November 26, 2018
Daniel Rice, a Rikers Island inmate who uses a wheelchair and catheter, is worried he’ll soon be placed in a general population housing unit ill-equipped to handle his medical needs. (Obtained by Daily News)

A Rikers Island inmate who uses a wheelchair and catheter is worried he’ll soon be placed in a general population housing unit ill-equipped to handle his medical needs.

Officials with the city’s Correctional Health Services want to move Daniel Rice into a regular housing area.

“I don’t understand why they are doing this,” Rice, 41, said. “They told me to pack up. It’s like they have something against people in wheelchairs.”

He’s currently housed in the Correction Department’s North Infirmary Command unit on Rikers.

At least one correction expert said it seems like that’s the best place for him.

“If it were me, I’d rather have a specialized unit that was (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and had a nurse on duty,” said former Correction Commissioner Martin Horn, who noted he was not familiar with the details of Rice’s case.

Rice, who is facing a murder charge, also complains about the lack of care in the medical unit.

Health staff there refused to give him a new catheter for two weeks, he alleges. The catheter is supposed to be changed each day.

Additionally, he charges that he has sometimes needed to use his own spit to change the catheter because medical staff wouldn’t give him lubricant and sterile gloves.

“Doctors don’t give a damn about these inmates or their medical conditions,” his aunt, Gladis Wallace, fumed.

“A lot of people end up in Bellevue because of mistreatment by these doctors,” she added.

A Correctional Health Services spokeswoman denied there was a problem.

“We provide high quality medical care that is tailored to the individual needs of our patients,” said Veronica Lewin.

Patients who are able to change their own catheters are provided gloves and lubricant by medical staff to reduce the risk of infection, she added.

Rice recently suffered a urinary tract infection which he says could have been prevented.

He has been in a wheelchair since he was shot during a dispute when he was a teen.

As for his criminal case, authorities say he fatally gunned down Kevin Thomas, 28, during an impromptu birthday party in the Mott Haven Houses in the Bronx in October 2016.

Police say the shooting was over a family beef and captured by a surveillance camera.

Rice — who has a prior criminal history and is known on the street as “Capone,” after gangster Al Capone — maintains he’s innocent and is awaiting trial. Authorities also say he had a loaded Glock pistol tucked under his belt when he was arrested.

Jail officials have long struggled to provide proper medical care to inmates with complex needs.

In August, the de Blasio administration agreed to bring Rikers Island into ADA compliance, even as it plans to shut down the East River jail complex. The plan could cost $50 million.

The department does not put all inmates who use catheters in medical units.

David McPeck, who required a catheter, committed suicide inside his cell on Aug. 27, according to authorities. McPeck was placed in a general population cell inside the Anna M. Kross Center.

His death is being reviewed by a state panel.

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