Coalinga State Hospital

Department of State Hospitals

In the months since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll on hospitals, where bedspace is at a minimum and staff are overworked, and prisons, where tight living quarters and mixed enforcement of safety precautions

 

On this week's Valley Edition: A street medicine team in Bakersfield educates people experiencing homelessness about COVID-19, and debunks myths about the vaccine. 

 

Plus, writer Mark Arax tells us about his research into the history of the Confederacy in the Central Valley.

 

Department of State Hospitals

In late December, Clementine Sanders called her son at Coalinga State Hospital to make sure he had received her Christmas card. That’s when his bunkmates informed her that her son, 58-year-old Shannon Starr, had died three weeks earlier. “I was just totally shocked,” she says. “Nobody called me.”

Since then, she says, none of her messages to staff or reception have been returned. “I still wasn’t notified and I still haven’t heard from the [hospital],” she says.

 

In the last two weeks, 48 people at the Coalinga State Hospital have contracted Covid-19, according to the Department of State Hospitals. Some patients without legal documentation are asking the state to allow ICE to deport them because they don’t want to get the virus.

Andrew Warren, 52, a Vietnamese citizen and resident at the civil confinement facility, says he’s afraid he’ll die at the state hospital due to unsafe practices among the staff that put him at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

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.