06-22 Rhonda Newsome-01

Rhonda Newsome. Newsome died on June 15, 2018, while in custody at Anderson County Jail.  A recently released DPS investigation shows Palestine Regional Medical Center staff requested Newsome be transferred there for critical health reasons more than six hours before she died.

Anderson County prisoner Rhonda Newsome died in a holding cell on June 15, 2018, more than six hours after jail nurse Tim Green was told to transport her to the hospital.

Newsome's blood tests from early that morning showed abnormalities; Palestine Regional Medical Center issued a critical value response – a test result that requires immediate clinical attention, or the patient may die.

PRMC officials said they notified Green of Newsome's results just after 10:30 a.m.

Newsome, however, was not transferred. Logs show staff were not notified that Newsome's hospital transfer had been authorized by a jail-contracted physician until roughly 5 p.m. By then, Newsome was dead.

That possibly fatal break-down in communication between hospital and jail staff was among several findings in a just-released investigation of Newsome's death by the state Department of Public Safety.

The findings raise serious questions about the care Newsome, 50, received the day she died. Newsome had been jailed three months earlier on assault charges stemming from a family fight.

The investigation, conducted by Texas Ranger Stephen Baggett, was given to a Grand Jury, which on May 15 found no criminal wrongdoing by Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor or his staff.

Had jail staff taken Newsome to Palestine Regional Medical Center when the hospital requested, the fatal complications of Addison's and cardiovascular disease she suffered at roughly 5 p.m. would have occurred under the care and supervision of hospital medical staff.

The state investigation also found jail staff attempted to use an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED) on Newsome, a portable device used to shock patients in cardiac arrest.

The jail-maintained Phillips defibrillator, however, was not working. It was improperly stored and lacked working batteries and adult-sized pads. The AED had also been recalled by the manufacturer three months earlier.

Green told state investigators he did not know who was responsible for maintaining the AED.

Green, whose company, “T&A Medical Solutions,” provides medical care for the Anderson County Jail, said Newsome was put in a holding cell on June 14, shortly before midnight. Newsome had complained of severe abdominal pain and other ailments.

Jail staff commonly use holding cells, in full view of the main booking area, for observing sick or suicidal prisoners.

The next morning, at 7:40 a.m., Green took a blood sample from Newsome and took it to the PRMC lab for analysis. Green then traveled to Houston County, where he also provides jail medical services.

Green told investigators he was unsure when he relayed the blood-test results to Dr. Adam Corley, the on-staff physician at T&A Medical Solutions, whose authority was required for Newsome's transfer.

On the day Newsome died, Green posted a statement on his company's FaceBook page, thanking all his “staff at Anderson and Houston County for working hard to ensure our facilities are well taken care of and any and every need is addressed promptly.”

Roy Finch, CEO of PRMC, declined to comment.

Calls to Tim Green and Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor were not returned.