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Inmate who died at Nassau jail got ‘proper’ care, Sheriff says

The Nassau County Jail in East Meadow.

The Nassau County Jail in East Meadow. Credit: FlyingDogPhotos.com / Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau Sheriff Michael Sposato said Tuesday that, while it was “tragic” that a county jail inmate died this weekend at a local hospital, the lock-up’s medical provider told him the woman got “proper medical care.”

William Kephart, the defense attorney for Elizabeth Stenson, 58, has said she died Saturday after complaining she hadn’t gotten blood-pressure medication or any follow-up care from jail medical personnel for five days after her May 19 arrest despite treatment requests from court officials.

A grand jury recently indicted the Amityville woman on murder charges connected to a June 2016 vehicular double fatality in Hicksville that killed her passenger and a bicyclist.

Court records Tuesday showed Stenson told police on the day of her arrest that she had taken blood-pressure medication that morning. The records also showed Stenson had a history of taking multiple prescriptions for mental-health issues. The records indicated she previously told police that she had pulled over because she was having a panic attack and “hit the gas instead of the brake and then had a collision.”

Stenson said she had been on the way home from a meeting for recovering drug addicts, had “been clean” herself for more than 12 years and was mentoring people in drug rehab. She also told police she’d been diagnosed with PTSD after surviving domestic abuse, and suffered from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and an eating disorder.

Nassau police are investigating Stenson’s death and the state commission of correction also will do a separate probe. That state oversight agency already has found Armor Correctional Health Services, the jail medical provider, provided inadequate care in connection with at least five Nassau inmate deaths since 2011.

Armor said Tuesday that because of a privacy law, it couldn’t disclose specifics of a patient’s care unless the person’s family issued a waiver. The company had previously called Kephart’s claims about Stenson not getting proper treatment “extremely inaccurate.”

But the Garden City attorney fired back Tuesday, saying Armor’s “track record does not qualify them to determine what proper care is.”

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano recently proposed a three-month contract extension for Armor at a 66 percent pay hike that the legislature’s Republican-controlled Rules Committee approved earlier last week.

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