Inmate’s wife worried about his access to medications

FRONT ROYAL — A week after Shenandoah County General District Court Judge Amy Tisinger said she was planning an order to ensure adequate medical care for a jail inmate, the inmate’s wife is uncertain whether her husband is better off.

Mary Jane Varney, who testified in court on behalf of Reece Kirk Varney Jr., said Friday her husband was “a mess” “and “pretty distraught” the last time she saw him a week ago. She also spoke with him on the phone earlier this week.

Varney, 66, is confined to the Rappahannock Shenandoah and Warren Regional Jail. He is facing charges of malicious wounding, hit and run driving and several other offenses stemming from an incident involving a motorcycle he was allegedly riding. Mary Jane Varney says the jail staff has been denying him an anti-anxiety medication since his arrest on Sept. 5.

“I don’t know if anything has changed since three days ago,” she said, referring to the last time she spoke to her husband.

The Varneys told Tisinger at a hearing on Nov. 14 that the RSW staff refused to accept legally prescribed medications that Mary Jane Varney repeatedly brought to the jail for her husband.

Tisinger said she was making no finding about the quality of the jail’s medical care for Varney. She also denied a motion by Varney’s attorney, David Downes, for an easing of bond requirements.

But a copy of Tisinger’s order received by the RSW Jail and obtained by The Northern Virginia Daily states that she wanted “any and all medical needs” of Varney, including those pertaining to medication, “properly addressed.”

Tisinger wrote: “While the court does not have medical expertise, the court will ask the jail and its medical staff to review its policies about medical treatment including but not limited to medication management as it relates to this particular defendant and to further work with the defendant on resolving these issues to assure that any medical issues of the defendant are properly dealt with during the pendency of his incarceration.”

RSW Superintendent William Wilson said in an interview Thursday that he spoke with Mary Jane Varney several days ago.

“The whole issue has been resolved as far as I know,” Wilson said, referring to Varney’s access to medications.

Wilson said there are certain medications that are not allowed inside the jail. Doctors can be asked to find substitutes for banned drugs, he added.

Wilson said Varney has been seeing a doctor in the jail, but federal patient privacy laws prevent him from discussing more details of the case.

When told of Wilson’s comment that the issue had been resolved, Mary Jane Varney replied: “I don’t know as far as it being resolved. The medication my husband was on, I encouraged them to get in touch with my husband’s psychiatrist and work out a substitute medication, but I really haven’t heard anything.”

She added: “I did talk to the superintendent. He did agree to send a form to my husband’s doctor who is in Staunton, but I don’t know if they’ve done that.”

She said her husband has been taking several medications, but her main concern is an anti-anxiety drug known as Ativan. Reece Varney had been taking the drug consistently for two years before his arrest, Mary Jane Varney said.

Varney and Wilson both said that visitors are not allowed to bring in any drugs from the outside and that any prescriptions needed will come from the jail’s doctor or nurse.

“They say they can’t be sure what’s in that bottle, and that makes sense to me,” Mary Jane Varney said of the jail staff. “But their statement is that anything he needs will be prescribed for him there, and that’s not happening.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

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