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Residents At Coalinga State Hospital Blame Staff For Bringing COVID-19 Into The Facility

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Coalinga State Hospital

Residents at Coalinga State Hospital are blaming staff members for infecting patients as reports of COVID-19 related deaths are increasing at the facility. 

 

“It’s like they're putting us in a tunnel, pouring gasoline down the tunnel and lighting a match,” resident James Hydrick said.

 

 In the past week alone, Hydrick said he’s seen nearly 10 ambulances leave with COVID positive patients in critical condition. And he said it’s due in part to staff floating between quarantine and non-quarantine units.

 

“We even had one staff member who said ‘is this a quarantine unit’ and we said no,” Hydrick said. “[She responded] ‘oh my I’m not supposed to be here, I work on a quarantine unit’ and she wound up working anyway even though she acknowledged she’s not supposed to be here.”

 

The civil confinement facility has reported 275 COVID-19 cases and less than 11 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But residents argue the number of deaths is higher. 

 

“Six have died since Thursday,” said resident Andrew Warren. “We have a total of 17 so far.” 

 

Residents are also unable to social distance with bunk beds not more than 4 and half feet apart, according to Hydrick. He shares a dorm with three other men, one who he says has been showing symptoms of COVID-19. 

 

“I have medical conditions that would put me at a high risk, but [staff] still have him in the same room,” he said.

 

The California Department of State Hospitals did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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