Artola spoke Spanish, Harris spoke English.
Artola was 63, Harris was Artola offered Harris food off his plate. Harris — who was asymptomatic — tried to get medical help for Artola when he couldn't stop vomiting. On the night of March 12, they both fell asleep in their bunks looking at the same white walls and stainless steel toilet surrounded by vomit-soaked towels. Correctional officers shone a light through their narrow cell window and told him to check on Artola, who hadn't stirred in hours.
He was never brought to a hospital, even as he vomited up food and water for 72 hours.
The vital s medical staff recorded in the day before his death were within the normal range, with oxygen saturations nearing perfect levels. Yet a translator was not present for the Spanish-speaker during these checks, where staff recorded that Victor "stated he felt fine," just hours before he died. His case is full of uncertainty, but those around Artola say one thing is clear: His calls for help were ignored until it was too late. He was informed of his test result on March 4 and moved into a quarantine cell with Harris.
A red tag was placed on their door, a that one or both of the individuals inside had tested positive or were symptomatic for COVID According to surveillance footage and photos from the prison, some of the surrounding cells were dotted with yellow tags, indicating inmates were potentially exposed to COVID A row of cells in Faribault prison's K3B wing show yellow and red tags. A red tag ifies that one or both of the individuals inside had tested positive or were symptomatic for COVID Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Two other inmates in the unit and a family member who Artola regularly called also confirmed this. There are no medical check-ins recorded from March 5 through March Commissioner Paul Schnell said he believes those check-ins occurred, and could not say why they weren't reflected on Artola's medical records. He believed dramatic symptom changes would be noted in the records, but perhaps not routine check-ins.
A minnesota man begged for help for days. then, he died in his prison cell from covid
However, Artola did get dramatically worse during that timeframe, according to four people who saw or spoke with him. He lost his appetite and began to feel ill about March 7, according his nephew Balmore Artola, who talked with him on the phone Tuesday, March 9. Victor soon began to vomit, unable to keep water or food down, according to Harris and Manuel Muro-Martinez, another inmate who advocated on Victor's behalf.
Prison staff offered cloths and germicide to clean up the mess. Fearing for his cellmate's life, Harris implored staff to take Victor's symptoms more seriously. I'm not good. Am I going to be taken to the hospital? March 12, after Artola had been vomiting for at least two days, correctional officers grew more concerned with his condition.
Officer Leilani Bang called an available registered nurse to check on Artola and take his vital s, according to an investigation from a DOC forensic pathology specialist. All of these readings were considered normal for a man of his age and condition. For a diabetic man in his condition, his vitals were considered in the normal range, according to Dr. Susan Hasti — a family medicine doctor currently on the faculty of the Hennepin Healthcare Family Medicine residency program. Hasti has ly worked in outpatient and inpatient medicine.
Translator services were not used during these medical visits, and the records note "lang. This was a flaw in the medical care Artola received, according to the department's commissioner. He said that he will likely push for department policy changes to ensure translators are consistently present in the future.
The absence of a translator for someone who can barely speak English is an alarming oversight, said Hasti. This was clearly not done.
This is a terrible medical ethics violation, as critical information from the patient was knowingly left out of the assessment," she wrote. A second medical check-in, timestamped at investigators later noted they believed it was erroneously recorded as a. His vitals remained in the normal range, according to records.
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Muro-Martinez grew so desperate to get Victor help that he called the Artola family on his friend's behalf, asking them to contact the prison and see if they could urge for Victor to be transported to the hospital. Balmore called Faribault and offered to help however he could. He drifted into a restless sleep in the early hours of March If the autopsy's conclusions are correct and Artola died after fluid collected in his lungs, the medical entries recorded in his final hours are puzzling.
They don't appear to show a man hours from death. It causes me to question the validity of that measurement. Even if the vital s were correctly recorded, Hasti said medical staff should have transported Artola to the emergency department after he vomited for several days. He recalls a patient who seemed healthy during exams and had a normal oxygen saturation level, but a chest x-ray caught that their lungs were filling with fluid.
Balmore Artola used to see his uncle frequently when the two lived just miles from each other in Eagan and Richfield. After Victor was incarcerated, Balmore tried to help his uncle however he could, keeping up with weekly phone calls and updating him about any news from his home country of El Salvador.
When the pandemic surged, Balmore grew concerned for how his uncle's underlying health conditions might affect him if he contracted COVID So, he helped with an application for conditional medical release. Balmore Artola is pictured on Saturday, June 12,at his home in Eagan.
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The program predated the COVID pandemic but was adapted to allow vulnerable inmates to be considered for release. A Post Bulletin analysis found that it was rarely used. Of the total 2, inmates who applied statewide during the pandemic, were approved. If they did, they were passed on to a team of four reviewers who analyzed various aspects of public safety to decide if the inmate posed a potential threat.
Commissioner Paul Schnell reviewed notes from all reviewers and made the final call on if the candidate would be released. However, the Post Bulletin found that the commissioner denied cases where reviewers unanimously recommended release.
State law grants the commissioner final authority to approve or deny medical release.
However, his application was ultimately denied on the basis of public safety. He became one of the four inmates who died after their applications were denied. Document courtesy of Balmore Artola. He was serving a month sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13 years old, with an expected supervised release date in He was one of four inmates who died after their medical release application was denied.
As a system, we have an obligation to make sure that if things did not go as they should have gone clinically, and even beyond clinically, then we have an obligation to address that and to fix that," Schnell said. Victor Artola left is pictured with his nephew Balmore Artola right. Victor and Balmore talked at least once a week after he was incarcerated at Faribault prison.
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Courtesy of Balmore Artola. One of the people advocating inside the prison was Victor's own son, Jose. He pursued a volunteer position in health services, thinking he might cross paths with his father while he picked up his diabetes medications. Tell him that we're in this together. Within days, he was dead. Jose was not permitted to see his father before his body was transported back to El Salvador.
Several Faribault inmates who knew Victor reached out to the Post Bulletin to share what they witnessed during his final days. One of them was David Basinger, who tutored Victor in English for years. And for the most part, a lot of us are trying to better ourselves and become better people in order to go back to society.
And having something like that happen, especially when someone was asking for help repeatedly, it just doesn't make any sense to me," Basinger said.
The inside of cell in Faribault prison. Victor Artola slept on the bottom bunk, and Paul Harris on the top.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. It felt like I could see his dead body. Correctional officers placed Harris in solitary confinement after they removed him from cell Staff told him it would last only a few hours. Hours stretched into days, and he remained in the segregated cell for two weeks.
Thinking about it. Trending Articles. Crime and Courts. Coronavirus A Minnesota man begged for help for days. Now, his family and friends are trying to figure out why he was never brought to a hospital. Written By: Nora Eckert am, Jun. Balmore Artola, his nephew, stands over the casket.