Sheriff: inmate who died got inadequate treatmentby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher says a man who died in the county jail last month received inadequate medical attention. The sheriff says he believes the man's death could have been prevented and he announced a new investigation.
St. Paul, Minn. — Randy Gallmeyer, 46, was arrested Oct. 19 for allegedly riding a motorized bicycle drunk. He was taken to the Ramsey County jail on that Friday night. By the following Sunday morning he was dead.
Gallmeyer died of untreated diabetes. But his blood sugar levels had not been tested. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said an internal investigation shows that the nurses on staff did try to test Gallmeyer when he was booked.
"But because he was uncooperative, he refused to have any particular treatment or observation at that time," he said. "Our staff at the sheriff's office was not aware, but the health department staff clearly was. Mr. Gallmeyer had been here a half-dozen times before. His record would reflect that he was a diabetic and would need to be checked."
Fletcher said Gallmeyer refused testing the two times it was offered the next morning. But he said testing should have been offered four times that day -- including around 3:30 in the afternoon and around 8 in the evening. It was not.
"Clearly those two circumstances, the 3:30 test that was not done and the 8 p.m. test that was not done were serious, serious infractions into the standard medical care of the inmates in the Ramsey County jail," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said Gallmeyer was taken to Regions Hospital after he was found on the floor of his cell Sunday morning. But it was too late.
Fletcher said the Ramsey County Health Department, not the Sheriff's Department, has authority over the medical staff at the jail. The health department says it's reviewing its policies related to Gallmeyer's death. And health department officials confirmed that the nurse who did not offer testing to Gallmeyer that Saturday afternoon has resigned.
Fletcher said he has asked the St. Paul Police Department to investigate Gallmeyer's death to determine whether there was any negligence and, if so, whether it was criminal. Fletcher said he's also renewed his request for 24-hour medical staff at the county jail. Right now nurses are on staff only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Meanwhile, Fletcher has been named in a wrongful-death suit filed by Gallmeyer's family. The family is also suing the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department. Gallmeyer's mother Nora had dropped off medication for her son while he was in jail. She says, even if the blame is shifted to a jail nurse, she still holds the sheriff responsible for what happens in the county jail.
- All Things Considered, 11/09/2007, 5:41 p.m.