Man with TB at the center of court dispute - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Man with TB at the center of court dispute

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May 21, 2007

Dawson -- The Terrell County Health Department ordered 41-year-old Michael Greene to stay home and wear a mask in public.

When Greene didn't comply, the health department had him quarantined in the Dougherty County Jail. Now, questions remain over how he'll be transported to South Carolina for treatment.

The Terrell County Health Department claims Michael Greene refused to stay indoors in his Terrell County neighborhood or wear a surgical mask. That made Greene a public health risk. The Health Department had Greene picked up by the Sheriff April seventh. Although he's not charged with a crime, Greene's spent the last six weeks inside the medical quarantine unit at the Dougherty County Jail.

"So our order was for the him to take his medicine, which the individual was taking, but he was outside in the general population, putting the general public at risk," said Dan Staid of the Southwest Georgia Health District.

Sheriff John Bowens was ordered to transport Greene to a South Carolina hospital the state contracts with to handle public TB cases. Bowens says that's a liability. Greene's family said he's also diabetic and suffers from a panic disorder.

"He has other medical issues other than TB and it really puts me at a liability. We're not trained to haul medical and that far, you're talking about six, seven hours to South Carolina," said the sheriff.

Bowens' also concerned for his deputy's safety. TB is highly contagious. The Health Department claims the patrol car is much safer than the back of an enclosed ambulance and that's what the law spells out.

"The individual is not coughing, so if the deputy would like to wear a mask, we'll make the M-95 mask which is gold standard for TB care in a hospital, we'll make that mask available for him," says Staid.

Caught in the middle is Greene's family who just want to see Greene get the care he needs.

Rossie3 "He didn't commit no crime, I want him to get the medical attention that he needs, let him go where he need to go," said his sister Rossie Greene.

Now it's up to the Judge to determine how Greene will get there.

Judge John Crosby asked both the Health Department and Sheriff John Bowens to work out some sort of arrangement to transport Michael Greene to South Carolina in the next two days.

He said if the two sides can't reach an agreement, he would make a ruling as to how Greene should be transported.

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