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Bakersfield Hospital Welcomes Patients From Ventura Facility Destroyed By Blaze

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Ventura County Fire Department
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The fire that flared up overnight in Ventura County has scorched 50,000 acres so far and burned at least 150 structures. Among those destroyed were buildings at a psychiatric hospital, which is now sending some of its patients to the San Joaquin Valley.

Photos from the Thomas Fire on Tuesday showed buildings burned to the ground on the campus of Vista Del Mar Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, an 87-bed facility in Ventura for patients with acute psychiatric needs. Patients there had already been evacuated, and now many are being transported to Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, a sister facility operated by the same company.

The Bakersfield hospital has 90 beds. Spokesman Monquiz Wedlow wouldn’t confirm how many patients are coming his way, but he says they have space and are ready to take on as many as necessary.

"During this time, we’re going to do everything we can humanly do," he says. "If that means working extra hours or if that means calling in extra staff to be able to house all the clients we’re receiving, we’re gonna do everything that we possibly can do."

Wedlow says Bakersfield Behavioral Hospital is also accepting walk-ins and welcomes anyone who may have been affected by the fire.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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