LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
According to corrections officials, an inmate in the Laurel County Detention Center died in March at Saint Joseph London of a virulent strain of MRSA 300.
A 28-year-old Eastern Kentucky University graduate, Cortney Beldon Hensley, had pneumonia caused by the MRSA.
The strain can be resistant to antibiotics, said Mark Hensley, director of the Laurel County Health Department. It releases toxins, causing pneumonia and sepsis, a blood infection. Cortney Hensley and Mark Hensley are not related.
Hensley had been in jail for six days on a charge of obtaining a controlled substance when on March 9 a staff member found her unresponsive in her cell around 10 p.m., said Jailer Jamie Mosley. She died two hours later at Saint Joseph London.
Hensley was seen by the jail’s medical staff less than two hours before she was found nearly unresponsive. She had complained of back pain and appeared to be going through withdrawal.
Mosley said Hensley was treated for back pain and released from Baptist Regional Medical Center in Corbin. She had not complained of flu or pneumonia symptoms, he said.
After Hensley’s death, Mosley asked a team of health officials what his staff might have done differently. Although he was told there was nothing more he could have done, Mosley is using Hensley’s case in training his staff.
High-definition cameras have been placed in the medical areas. Further Mosley has installed dispensers of hand sanitizer in cells and is having inmates use antibacterial bath and body wash. Inmates with MRSA are isolated.
Mosley said the jail had six MRSA skin cases in 2012 and less than 10 in 2013.
Corrections officials statewide knew of no other deaths caused by the same strain of MRSA that killed Hensley.