‘Nobody cares about sex offenders.’ COVID deaths spike at state hospital in Fresno County

The Fresno Bee: by Nadia Lopez; February 15, 2021


A spike in coronavirus-related deaths at a state-run psychiatric hospital in Fresno County has angered and alarmed patients, who blame hospital staff for a massive outbreak that infected hundreds and killed more than a dozen patients over the past six months.

One patient who spoke with The Bee said he struggled to bring attention to the outbreak at Coalinga State Hospital in Fresno County. He said he’s been “ignored” and “neglected” for one simple reason — most of the patients in Coalinga are rapists, child molesters, and sexually violent predators.

“I screamed my head off. It’s ridiculous,” said Sam Consiglio, a 69-year-old convicted violent sex offender. “I’m certain I was ignored. This hospital was really negligent, but I just can’t get anybody to care about these guys because they think of us as the worst of the worst.”

The Coalinga facility has 1,286 beds and treats sexually violent predators, offenders with mental health disorders, and a group of severely disabled people who haven’t committed crimes but represent a danger to themselves or others.

“Nobody cares about sex offenders,” he added.

A total of 20 residents have died, including 18 in the past six months, after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the California Department of State Hospital’s patient data tracker.

Consiglio said hospital staffers refused to follow basic COVID-19 safety standards, like wearing masks and cleaning properly. He suspects uncleaned phones and other items frequently shared by the residents contributed to the spread.

“It really started hitting heavy, and then all hell broke loose after that,” he said. “I think if (the virus) would have been taken more seriously, as far as the cleaning and the masks, we could have saved some of those lives.”

But hospital officials say such claims aren’t true.

Department officials said mask-wearing among staff was “strictly enforced” and that the pandemic had taken a toll on the hospital’s residents just as it had on the population at large. They added that the hospital had and continues to clean “patient care areas” and other locations within the facility frequently.

“Similar to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths experienced overall in California in recent months, Coalinga State Hospital also experienced a rise in cases and deaths during this time,” department spokesman Ken August said.

However, the hospital hasn’t explained the winter outbreak, which was among the worst in the state’s five psychiatric facilities. At least 491 patients as of last week tested positive for the virus — the second-highest tally yet recorded behind Patton State Psychiatric Hospital in San Bernardino County.

The hospital employs 2,285 people, ranging from psychiatrists, psychiatric technicians, and nurses to groundskeepers and maintenance workers.

A total of 404 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Since the patients are not allowed to leave, many of them said staff brought the virus into the hospital. Consiglio said employees continued to move through different units despite the number of rising infections.

In August, just two patients had died from COVID-19 complications. Since then, 18 additional deaths have been reported. In six months, the number of infections skyrocketed to 491. Just 28 patients tested positive for COVID-19 at the hospital in July, a department spokesperson confirmed.

The numbers began to climb significantly in early December when the hospital reported 180 total cases and about 11 deaths among patients, according to a Department of State Hospitals email. Officials said the number of infections spiked to 315 cases a month later, on Jan. 4. Though deaths also jumped past 11 during that time, officials declined to comment on the exact number.

“While even one death of a patient due to COVID-19 is too many, it’s important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest public health challenge facing state hospitals, other health care facilities, and California in a century,” he said.

The hospitals regularly test employees, place patients who have tested positive in isolation spaces, and hold new arrivals in observation units for testing, among other measures, according to the Department of State Hospitals website. All patients are also provided masks and encouraged to wear them, August said.

About 16% of the patient population in California’s state-run hospitals are individuals 65 or older, while 64.6% of residents have at least one medical risk factor that makes them high-risk.

In January, the hospitals started vaccinating patients and staff.

A total of 1,164 – about 90% – of patients at the Coalinga hospital had been vaccinated with the first dose as of Monday. Of those employed, 1,959, or about 85% of all staff members, had received their first dose of the vaccine, department data shows.

Source:  https://www.fresnobee.com/news/coronavirus/article249163900.html

3 thoughts on “‘Nobody cares about sex offenders.’ COVID deaths spike at state hospital in Fresno County

  1. How many of those that have been vaccinated have become ill with a respiratory or sinus infection or CoVid19 or have even died within 6 days of the vaccination?


    1. Hello Arielle,
      Thank you for your comment and interest in the men in the Littlefield facility. Great question btw… These men have not been vaccinated for Covid yet. They are being told it’s coming, but who knows when that will be. The majority of these men haven’t even been given the Flu shot!! MTC & TCCO managed to give one building of detainees the flu shot then nobody else got it.
      Sadly, the 9th man died last week from complications of Covid.


      1. Hi, My son was getting information about the CDC rules from me. He told me how they were doing things and I called TCCO actually I think I emailed Michael Searcy and Marsha McLane and I was assured they all precautions were in place. I called and left a message for the CDC in that area because I felt I was not being told the truth and never got a return call. Well my son does not sit idly by when he know he and every ones rights are being violated and being put in danger. He got up set and he told them that they were not following the CDC guidelines and one thing lead to another and that they could get in a lot of trouble. My son was never sick as a kid I was lucky but he was really worried about this Covid and he wanted things done right. Well they had other intentions and he got in a lot of trouble. They sent six to eight men into his solitary cell and attacked him he was punched in the groin area and the stomach and he pulled one of the helmets off of the guy that was doing most of the punching they gassed him four times twice after he was handcuffed one of those times he was on his belly with his hands behind his back. Evidently the officer that helmet came off was scratched so they filed assault charges on him so I feel kind of blessed that he was taken to jail because the ones at the center have not one to care for them. He has always stood up for all of them not just himself. But to no avail it never does any good. Law suite after Law suite no one listens. I heart goes out to the men at the facility I will pray for them each and everyday. I don’t want my son to go back there. This year will be year twelve after serving his full six year sentence,. In this six years he has seen a lot I have witnessed a lot so if you ever want to hear the side from the inside he is in jail right now and he can answer any question you want. Prays to all and we are working hard on the petition. PS he was in solitary or what ever they call it because he was in fear of retaliation because he has so me suits against them and the last time they tired to get him for assault he was acquitted. When he got back from TDC he noticed how he was being poked and so he told his case manager, the DA, the Sheriff’s Office and PD I thing that he was in fear that something might happen to him so he wanted out of general population. He was told by his therapist that she was recommending him to be put up a tier and was told by his case manager the only way he could do that is to go to general population. I am sorry this is only a couple of weeks worth of stuff so I could go on for ever. If you want to reach out to him let me know because he can talk to you on the phone. Sorry if I rambled on I am just totally frustrated like everyone else. Also I spoke to a representative of a company that makes those helmets and shields and body armor they use I was told if the helmet was put on correctly it couldn’t be pulled off. If you don’t feel this is information that you want I won’t get my feelings hurt if you don’t want it on your website. Just be careful if you are helping yourself or someone else it can be dangerous for you. God Bless


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