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Report: Fatally ill inmate got proper care

With a fever heading to 104, Dorothy Dian Palinchik spent her last day at the Pinellas County Jail convulsed with diarrhea and vomiting blood.

Other inmates in the medical wing signed a request asking that Palinchik, 42, be moved away from them.

They didn't want to catch whatever she had. They didn't want her blood anywhere near their food.

Within hours, she was rushed to a hospital. Within a week, she was dead from a severe MRSA infection.

On Thursday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office released an internal affairs investigation concluding that Palinchik received proper medical care. She spent nine days at the jail — the last one in the medical wing.

Sheriff's Sgt. Annette Perez-Ford received a letter of counseling for tearing up the inmates' request to move Palinchik, but that was the only error investigators reported.

And that did not contribute to Palinchik's death, investigators said, nor did it prevent her from receiving proper medical treatment.

"Naturally," said Palinchik's longtime boyfriend, Michael Mullican. "They're not going to admit to any wrongdoing."

Palinchik's family has said the jail ignored her symptoms and provided inadequate care.

The 80-plus-page report shows Palinchik's demise was swift and sudden.

Palinchik, who sometimes worked as a waitress, was arrested on Feb. 13, accused of stealing a Philly cheesesteak sandwich from a St. Petersburg Publix.

Her bail was set at $250, but she couldn't raise the money, according to recordings of calls she made to her mother and boyfriend.

Her mother said Palinchik, who had a previous shoplifting charge, should just do the time because "enough was enough," the report said.

Palinchik then called her boyfriend and begged him to post her bail. He told her no, because she was going to be served with a notice of violating her probation. Serve the time, he told her.

During booking, a nurse who saw Palinchik reported no signs of illness.

Three days later, on Feb. 16, Palinchik filed her first medical request form, complaining of a painful pressure on her bladder that caused her to urinate constantly. The medical staff put her on Motrin.

On Feb. 18, Palinchik filed another form. Her ears were popping, she was having a hard time breathing and was running a cold sweat. The jail staff put her on a three-day course of upper respiratory medication.

By Feb. 20, Palinchik told her mother she was "sick and dying," according to the report.

Dorothy Helen Palinchik said Thursday she remembered hearing her daughter say she was sick but not that she was dying.

On Feb. 21, Palinchik went to the satellite clinic located inside the general population wing of the jail for the first time. She had a runny nose, nasal congestion and sore throat. She told a nurse she couldn't sleep, her mind was racing and she was coughing up yellow sputum.

When Mullican saw her at 4:30 p.m. that day, she could barely hold up her head and had to leave the visitation booth early. "Michael, I've never been this sick in my life," he quoted Palinchik as saying.

Early Feb. 22, Palinchik went back to the satellite clinic and was put on a priority list to be seen by an advanced registered nurse practitioner.

The nurse saw Palinchik at 12:29 p.m., thought she had the flu and decided to put in an IV, order blood tests and move her to the medical wing.

She got steadily worse until 8:04 p.m., when she was taken to Largo Medical Center.

Doctors there determined she was suffering from MRSA, a highly contagious disease.

By Feb. 28, her limbs had turned black from the infection and the drugs used to fight it, she was unconscious and breathing on a respirator. Doctors considered amputating her arms and legs to stop the infection but decided even that wouldn't work.

She died at 4:14 p.m.

Report: Fatally ill inmate got proper care 07/17/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 11:03pm]
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