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After KVPR investigation of deaths, Coalinga State Hospital patient says medical care still flawed

Department of State Hospitals
Coalinga State Hospital

Our investigation last year found the death rate at the hospital was even higher than at state prisons with some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.

Last July, a KVPR investigation revealed that an alarmingly high number of patients had died at Coalinga State Hospital (CSH), a state-run psychiatric hospital in western Fresno County. In 2020, the facility had the highest death rate of any state hospital or state prison, with the exception of a medical facility that takes on the state’s sickest prison inmates. Many at CSH pointed to inadequate medical care as a major culprit, which was confirmed by medical records and state documents.

Now, state data reveal that although fewer CSH patients died in 2021 than in 2020, the death rate still remains the highest of almost any state-run facility in California. In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein spoke about the hospital’s medical and psychiatric care with Michael St. Martin, a patient there who argues not much has changed in the last year.

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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