A woman who was released from jail three months ago to seek a heart transplant but who has ignored the advice of her doctors now has a judge’s orders to follow if she does not want to be re-incarcerated.
District Court Judge Francis Ricigliano in Nassau County (See Profile) told Diane McCloud, 47, that she must stop smoking, submit to drug testing and listen to her doctors.
Ms. McCloud walked into the courtroom yesterday tethered to an intravenous drip and escorted by her sister and a friend.
In a five-minute bench conference, she assured the annoyed Judge Ricigliano that she would clean up her act, and he agreed to let her remain free—at least for the moment. He directed her to return on June 10 to examine her progress.
Leonard B. Isaacs of Valley Stream, Ms. McCloud’s attorney, thanked the judge and the district attorney’s office in an interview.
“The judge was kind enough to give Ms. McCloud a second chance because going to jail at this point, she would surely die,” he said.
Ms. McCloud had been incarcerated at Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow after being convicted of stealing almost $4,000 in merchandise from a Westbury Target in 2009 and 2010.
Her health deteriorated in December while in jail, and in January doctors determined she had less than six months to live. On the day Judge Ricigliano vacated her sentence, Ms. McCloud was brought into court on a hospital bed, escorted by court personnel and a nurse (NYLJ, Jan. 24).
Ms. McCloud was released on the condition she take all necessary steps to obtain a transplant. He agreed to resentence her if she was successful.
But Sanjay Doddamani, chairman of the cardiology department at the Nassau University Medical Center, wrote to the district attorney’s office on April 18 that Ms. McCloud had not been a cooperative patient.
Among other things, she has left medical appointments out of frustration before being seen, declined to submit to drug testing and kept smoking, the doctor said.
“I have reiterated to Ms. McCloud that part of transplant eligibility is to abstain from cigarette smoking,” the cardiologist said. “She, however, has continued to smoke cigarettes regularly and even before office visits on the hospital’s premises (parking lot).”
Dr. Doddamani said Ms. McCloud has declined patches or pills that would help her stop.
Ms. McCloud has been smoking since age 13, according to Mr. Isaacs.
“She’s like millions of others who have attempted to quit smoking and have had a great deal of difficulty doing so,” he said, adding that there was no claim his client had been using drugs, only that she refused to undergo drug testing.
The letter from Dr. Doddamani noted that Montefiore Medical Center declined to list Ms. McCloud as a possible heart recipient.
“She received a letter stating that her risk of going back to jail was high enough for the program to not be able to provide her with post-transplant support,” the doctor said.
Dr. Doddamani said he is now arranging for Ms. McCloud to be evaluated by Mount Sinai Hospital. “However, if she continues to smoke cigarettes, it does not help her cause,” he said.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office was represented by Dana Boylan. An office spokesman declined to comment.
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