David Mitchell, Operations Manager, Department of Public Safety
Duane Terrell, Superintendent, Marion Correctional Facility
Hugh Corpening, Assistant Superintendent, Marion Correctional Facility
November 21, 2013
This is a formal complaint against Marion Correctional for medical neglect, as well as torture and abuse. There will be a separate complaint against the unconstitutional punishment for both administrative segregation and ICON given to Daniel Palacios, #1248101, but this medical issue is of utmost importance.
This Wednesday, November 20, I drove two hours to visit my husband at Marion Correctional in Marion, North Carolina. I had stayed up all night looking again and again over his letters since the August 31st charges of ICON, so that I can attempt to correctly lodge complaints.
Here is what I have come to understand as true:
August 31 – six men were exhausted from heat issues regarding the HVAC not being on in their unit, so they sat down. There was no violence, the men had just asked for the appearance of the CO, as their rooms literally felt like ovens from no circulating air for that week, and when temperatures soared outside from 82 – 90 degrees with no cloud cover, little outside wind movement, and no shade for their cement walls, as will be addressed in the next complaint to follow by Monday, November 25th.
“It was like opening a car that had been left in the sun with the windows rolled up all day, and we
were expected to just walk into that and sit down,” Daniel explained. All men allowed the guard to handcuff them, and they were acting separately in desperation for relief from the heat, as it was cooler in the adjoining day room. Daniel has been in a form of isolation, as have the other five men whose names will be listed in the next complaint, since this date.
September 9, 2013 – Daniel Palacios was seen by someone in medical because of worsening pain in his abdomen area. He could feel his bowels moving in and out of the rupture at this point. It is decided that he has a hernia, with medical only performing a typical physical exam. There was no other pre-surgery protocol, such as an x-ray.
October 13, 2013 – Daniel Palacios writes to me at the end of a long letter that he was told at 3pm as he was writing to me that someone came in and told him that he could not drink or eat anything after midnight because of a procedure. He then stated that he had to get this in the mail and the letter promptly ended.
October 15, 2013 – Daniel Palacios wrote to me stating that on October 14th he had surgery, and during recovery he had to go use the bathroom. The guards would not allow him to sit on the toilet. Now, it has not even been ten hours since the surgery- a large, open incision over 5 inches in length, and they made the man stand at the urinal. Not only that, but he is shackled at his wrists and ankles. Here is his account of what follows –
It had been so long since I peed that I stood there, waiting. I felt something warm running down my leg, and thought I’d had an ‘accident’ due to anesthesia. I looked down, and a few drops of blood hit the floor. And, just like that, it started to flow, the blood, in a steady stream on the floor. I tried to sit back down on the bed, but the chains weren’t letting me move. So, I had to scoot and lean back as they (nurses, staff) hit the red buttons and started screaming for help. As they were rushing in, grabbing whatever they could to press against me (the surgery incision), I started to lose consciousness, but not totally, because of all the blood lost. As I lay there, they had called the doctor and he told them to get the ER ready again. But, just then, the bleeding stopped, on its own. I laid there, lethargic, hearing people, but like in slow motion. The doctor said he was going to send me back to the prison the same day, but because of this incident he would keep me overnight.
This was at Grace Hospital, in Morganton, a Dr. Patel. However, he was not allowed to stay in the hospital under the attending physician’s care and recommendations – he was transported instead to the Foot Hills camp. So, here is a man who almost died due to negligence of the prison guards, and he is being transported?
10-15-2013 Daniel Palacios is in a room in isolation. He wasn’t bleeding then, but was placed in an isolation cell with a bed unusually high, up to his waist. He cannot get into the bed due to the care needed to protect the incision from possibly opening or tearing. He did at least get ice for his groin, but was in excruciating pain from being close to helpless with the extreme height issues over the bed and toilet. He puts two dinner trays on the floor in an attempt to stand on them on tipy-toe and ease himself over and onto the chained shelf that is the bed. The toilet has no rails or ways to assist him from getting up or down on the low toilet. He explains that the doctor is not there at night, so there is no help to get anything done, and he has had any sleep for over 30 hours. It is very difficult to maneuver this cell, so he stays very still on the shelf as much as he can except to use the bathroom.
10-16-13 Daniel Palacios wrote : I made it through the night. CO Morgan wanted me to get up to get my handcuffs on. As I was struggling to get out of the high bed, the nurse explained that I had a huge incision. She told me to stop (struggling to right myself) and called Sgt. McNahan, and they opened the door, and she told me just to lie down, and the Sgt. handcuffed me and and the doctor looked over my incision. The doctor told the Sgt. To have me moved to a room with a lower bunk, and he said I could take a shower tonight if I could stand that long. I said, “Yes, it’s been since Saturday (October 12) that I’ve had one. I finally got some stool softeners.
Here is a big, strapping man, (5’10”and 240 pounds) with a tremendous stapled incision that needed help getting up and down, help with bathing and cleaning to help avoid infection, as well as nutritional needs, and extra fiber or foods congruent to helping someone heal, that was left to himself, overtly handcuffed, especially as he had never been violent, and was in isolation under non-violent circumstances.
Ever since this date, Daniel has complained of feeling ‘cold’ inside, of not being able to get warmed or to feel like his body is at the right temperature. I fear that he has an interior infection that is not being addressed. Anyone who cannot bathe within four days of a major surgery, or to be helped to bathe, especially in the microbial bath that is prison air should surely be affected by infection given such lack of care.
10-20-13 Daniel Palacios discusses that the pain meds will be stopped today, even though there is still a lot of discomfort. The Cleveland Clinic, http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/Pain_Management/hic_Pain_Control_after_Surgery.aspx
explains better than I why it was so important that he receive proper pain management, so that he could move easier, perform the crucial stretching exercises that would speed and aid his recovery that is almost impossible when one is in acute distress and pain, as well as help keep stress at a minimum. Daniel mentions that he wants to ask a nurse if he could be allowed some ibuprofen to help.
10-23 -13 Daniel Palacios mentions that he was seen by the doctor at Foot Hills who stated he was “fine” and removed the staples. However, Daniel mentions, “it burned and leaked as he took the staples out”. “It doesn’t look that great, but I don’t think it will come apart as I thought it might a couple of days ago. It does have a sharp, throbbing like a knife, at times. He told me that there would be swelling for another six weeks because of the mesh, but didn’t say anything about my leakage or the pain.”
10-25-13 Daniel Palacios was wakened by a guard telling him a nurse was there in regards to a sick call he had made. The sick call had been written on 10-23, so it took two days for a response. He is still having problems getting up, he notes. I am very concerned about this, as my husband is as strong as an ox; I always called him my Mexican bull. He is quite robust, and rarely ill. By this point, post-surgery, ten days later, he should be up and about, especially as he had a hernia surgery in the past, with no trouble such as this, being at home and in good care.
His health, pre-surgery was quite excellent, as he was running outside before the seg issues, lifting weights, doing 600 plus push ups and sit ups, etc. To read him say that he was “struggling to get up”, is an area of huge concern. He describes being chained at ankles and wrists, and unbuttoning his pants so that the incision can be examined. The nurse was a male, and says that the area was “healing well”. Now, Daniel tells the nurse that just the night before on October 23rd that the incision was “burning and leaking everywhere.” He went on to say, “but not now.”
This to me is clear evidence that the wound has closed over a serious infection. The nurse only stated not to move much, or lift anything. Daniel adds, “I thought everyone was looking good.” That afternoon, he had to have a bowel movement, and describes the following (still 10-25):
I rolled up a towel and put it against the incision to help against straining while I had to push some…After I finished and removed the towel I noticed fresh blood and yellow leakage on it. I began to curse as I realized that something was very wrong, and the nurse had done nothing. Now, the nurse gave me back my sick call paper, which is never done, and he didn’t want me to be charged for something that was the responsibility of medical post surgery anyway, by checking on the progress of the incision. But, he didn’t really tell me the truth. He really gave me back the sick call sheet as it didn’t look good (the incision) and if I had to place a sick call to get someone to look at it, then they at the prison are really liable for negligence. They have left me to take care of, on my own, what they were responsible for doing. What am I to do, with this really yellow leakage – I just lie very still as so not to move around. I just looked at the incision, and it looks like it’s coming apart some. I’m afraid to move much or suddenly. Medical won’t do anything for me, but I will try and if I don’t get anywhere further you will have to call again. I really don’t feel good at all. I think it needs strips to hold it together…
Then, on 10-26… “I took a shower today, and feel well enough to write. I am still bothered by all of the swelling. It is also painful, and even above the incision it is very hard. I don’t remember this from before.”
The willful neglect of this institution on my husband must end, now. Period. It is obvious that he is being left to die. I visited on Wed, November, and called on Friday, November 8th and was told that there was a nurse already seeing him while I was on the phone. We got into a dialogue and I made sure it was known that the staff was not doing their jobs, and should tend to him appropriately.
Daniel writes on November 9th, that “a nurse came yesterday because you called”. They are blaming my pain on my not working out. I told her that it was like a piece of paper rubbing inside, and was trying to cut my insides.” I say this because when I was able to visit him again, this Wednesday, after calling the prison last week because I could not visit, and again, being told by Nurse Buckhannon in a nasty tone that he “was fine, there was no reason for me to keep calling”, which leads me to call the Assistant Superintendent of the Prison who refuses to answer my questions that were regarding the charges of ICON, as I had intended to ask questions about both situations, as they are both so closely entertwined, with his health being so further restricted by the torture and abuse of being in ICON during all of this sickness and recovery. Since Assistant Superintendent Coperning has hung up on me, and the medical staff refuses to do any complete examination of my husband’s true health, I am now having to write to both the governor, the representatives of House and Senate for further assistance, as well as to any newspaper that may have a caring reporter.
It was very hard to believe that I see a pale, lethargic man who is only a shadow of his energetic, robust self who is in so much need when this could all have been avoided by appropriate care.
Here is what he was asking for, as of Wednesday, November 20 –
- be transported to see Dr. Cope in Burlington, NC for third party review and possible care plan,
- that his A charges be dropped, as the isolation sentence is a farce and created just as punishment as he and five others were being brave enough to beg for HVAC repair when there was no air all week in their unit while the rest of the prison had air for most of the week of Aug.31,
- and since he has now served 84 days of isolation from his peers in both admin seg and now ICON total – both are isolation , that his abuse and torture be stopped. It will be impossible for him to heal given the length of issues regarding the negligence by the guards and nurses, which was acerbated by the Assistant Superintendent Corpening, who hung up on me instead of dealing with the issues head on. Another week has passed since I attempted to get some answers and assistance on how to file the grievance and complaints by trying to understand truly what the issues were regarding my husband.
I hope and pray that someone will see the need for expediency and relief for my husband, as well as for the other inmates who are enduring this type of discrimination. There may be other issues within the unit, as well, if both the doctor and assistant are no longer at this facility.
Thank you for taking the time to read this report. I am too exhausted to handle the complaint against unconstitutional use of isolation, but will get to it shortly.