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Prison Guard Hit By Inmate, Loses Medical Insurance

2:43 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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Scandia, MN (KARE 11) -- A former Minnesota Department of Corrections employee who no longer can work because of a prison assault could lose his employee insurance.

Police officers and firefighters who put themselves in harm's way are not treated the same way and some wonder if Minnesota law needs to change.

Dave Kampa has been unable to work for the past two and half years. His workers' compensation payments are nearing their end. Because of it, he and his family fear skyrocketing health insurance costs could force them from their home.

The family's health insurance will go from fewer than $200 a month to $1,600 a month once Kampa's payments end, which his attorney says is in a few weeks.

"By the time I pay the $1,600 for health insurance, it probably would come out to about $800 to pay my bills," said Kampa.

"I'd love to be at work," he added. "I enjoyed going to work every day. It just happened to take a detour now."

For the past 31 years, Kampa has worked for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, most recently as an investigator and intelligence officer at the Stillwater prison. In 2010, he was severely injured after he tried to break up a fight between two rival gangs.

"I remember getting punched, but once I hit the bar, I don't remember anything," Kampa recalled.

The video shows an inmate punching Kampa in the face. Kampa then falls back and hits his head on a steel bar connected to a prison cell.

He suffered a severe concussion and now his doctors say he cannot work.

"He's not the man I married 30 years ago, not the same man at all," said his wife, Barb Kampa.

The lists of his ailments are almost too many to count. He's had multiple root canals, suffers from painful migraines, and has two steel plates in his neck.

But it is Kampa's brain injury that will most likely never get better and is keeping him from working. He has short term memory loss and struggles with finding the right words.

But the inmate who assaulted him gets free health care coverage on the taxpayers' dime.

"I get thrown underneath the bus and these guys get the best healthcare," he said of inmates.

"This isn't politics. This isn't bureaucracy. These are real people who risk their lives every single day," said Richard Kolodziejski, public affairs and communications director for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees or MAPE.

Kolodziejski believes Department of Corrections employees are falling through the cracks.

"With employees of Department of Corrections, if they are assaulted or rendered totally or permanently disabled as a result of their job duties, they are not provided affordable health care at all," he said.

But under state statute, police officers and firefighters who are permanently injured on the job are eligible for affordable health care.

"It's not fair. I'm so worried. We're just so worried over this," said Barb Kampa.

John Schadl, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Corrections said the DOC feels badly for Kampa but tells KARE 11 the department's hands are tied until legislation is changed.

He added the DOC acted promptly when Kampa was assaulted.

"The DOC takes these cases very seriously and in this instance asked the Washington County Attorney's Office to prosecute Andy Leo Deverny for aggravated assault.  The court imposed a sentence of a year and a day to begin if and when Deverny's life sentence is finished," wrote Schadl.

MAPE officials said they tried but were not able to get the issue in front of legislators this session, but Kolodziejski believes they will make better progress next session.

Meanwhile, the Kampa's worry it may be too late for them.

"The system is not fair, but what do you do," said Dave Kampa.

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