Patton State Hospital affected person vaccinations serving to, however advocates name for extra measures to curb COVID-19 – Press Enterprise
While the state is scrambling to vaccinate all patients at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in a coronavirus outbreak that killed 19 patients and infected hundreds of others, attorneys note that lack of social distancing and poor ventilation remains a serious one Pose a risk to those imprisoned there.
Additionally, hundreds of patients who have been deemed discharged by the state but remain in Patton and the state’s other four psychiatric hospitals are compounding the problem and increasing the risk of the virus spreading further.
And patients continue to raise concerns about the vaccines’ effectiveness against new mutations of the virus, said Kim Pederson, senior disability rights attorney in California, who represents four patients in a federal lawsuit filed December against Patton and the Department of State Hospitals.
“We are grateful for the work DSH has done, but it is important to recognize that despite the vaccinations, the patient population is still terrified,” said Pederson. “They are also afraid of the variants and mutations and whether the vaccines will work on them. There are still 50 patients per unit and no adequate social distancing. “
In December, attorneys for the Bay Area nonprofit and international law firm Covington & Burling filed an urgency motion in Riverside Federal Court against Patton and the DSH for the immediate discharge or rendition of patients at highest risk of falling ill and / or dying of COVID. 19. It brought about a court order for DSH to immediately initiate a mass vaccination for all consenting staff and patients.
Patient still at risk
During a conference call on February 9 with U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal, attorneys confirmed that by February 5, approximately 72.5% of the Patton patient population had received a dose or two of a coronavirus vaccine. However, the majority of patients had only received their first dose, with 22% of patients receiving both doses.
“As a result, patients are at continued risk,” Anne Hadreas, attorney for Disability Rights California, said during the conference call.
The next conference call is scheduled for Tuesday, March 2nd.
Since the February 9 hearing, two more patients have died of COVID-19 in Patton, bringing the total death toll to 19 as of May 16, 2020, just one less than at Coalinga State Hospital, which has the highest number of patient deaths in the world five state psychiatric lockdown facilities. However, Patton is a leader in the number of infected patients and employees. According to DSH figures, 581 patients and 626 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since last May.
However, those numbers have decreased since mass vaccination began in January.
DSH spokesman Ken August said all five state hospitals have seen decreases in the number of new COVID-19 cases in both patients and staff. “The decline is similar to the decline in new cases across California,” August said.
“The department’s efforts to plan, prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020 and has increased every month since then, continue,” he said.
Citing the ongoing litigation, August refused to elaborate on what DSH and Patton are doing to resolve poor ventilation issues and the CDC’s social distancing guidelines alleged in the lawsuit, which are not being followed.
Blocked patient transfers
Since the pandemic in March 2020, patient movement in DSH hospitals has been restricted, and the release of eligible patients in so-called step-down facilities such as nursing or transition homes has essentially come to a standstill.
This has caused an overcrowding in the situation in Patton and other state hospitals as well, which patient advocates claim are conducive to the spread of COVID-19.
“This location is still a risky environment for our customers to experience the spread of infectious diseases,” said Aaron Fischer, a civil rights attorney who previously worked for Disability Rights California and now has private practice.
The California State Auditor’s Office noted in a July 2020 report that 138 patients in the DSH system were ready for release by January 2020, but they had not yet been discharged to a lower level of care and were still in hospitals.
As of November, DSH reported that there were 272 patients in Patton who had been identified by their treatment teams as eligible for release. It was unclear what the numbers were for the other four hospitals in the state.
Democratic Republic of the Congo attorney Anne Hadreas said a lack of funding priority by DSH has prevented the release of more eligible patients to other facilities. She said that money that could be used to release patients will be used to expand hospital services and staff.
“We heard from community providers that they could take in more people, but there has to be money to pay for these services,” said Hadreas. “Otherwise people have to wait for an internship to be available, and it takes a long time.”
In response to this, August would only say that DSH is following all required legal procedures for the unconditional or conditional discharge of patients from a state hospital. “Every patient is required by the court to take the DSH, and the court ultimately decides when a patient who has been required to take the DSH can be discharged from the DSH,” he said.
Could the stimulus package help?
Jennifer Mathis, director of policy and legal aid at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, DC, which supports Disability Rights California in its litigation, said the state should draw on federal housing funds, including those from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, HUD, and Medicaid Community Services dollars to support this effort.
“A good solution is to get people out,” said Mathis. “It helps that these vaccination efforts go ahead … but beyond that, I think it’s still very important to reduce the census in these places and allow people to make the transition.” Said Mathis.
Additional funding from President Joe Biden’s US rescue plan of $ 1.9 trillion would be another tool to get people out of state hospitals, Mathis said.
The provisions of the proposed stimulus package include home and community services for eligible individuals, as well as hazard and overtime compensation, paid training and personal protective equipment for home health workers.
“The answer has to be to focus on bringing people out. If you only focus on infection control in the facilities, people have very limited lives and in many cases physical distancing is impossible, ”Mathis said. “It’s difficult to do proper infection control without making people’s lives very, very limited. That is the nature of the institutional framework, especially with this virus. “