From the November 2007 Idaho Observer:

Evidence indicates civil detainee died of neglect

Coalinga State Hospital, California’s two year old $388 million facility for confining sex offenders after serving their entire prison sentence, is coming under renewed fire in the wake of Thursday’s death of patient Frank Valado, age 45.

Valado collapsed while playing basketball with other Civil Detainees in the institution’s gymnasium Thursday evening. Patients witnessing the incident said that staff response to Valado’s collapse was completely inadequate and that, effectively, he received little or no treatment after being stricken.

They reported that an officer present in the gymnasium refused to radio in an alarm, despite their requests that he do so, but instead simply left the room. A patient got the attention of another officer by pounding on a gymnasium window looking out onto the main courtyard. That officer then radioed the alarm that brought other staff to the scene.

One patient began performing CPR on Valado and others present confirm that Valado partially regained consciousness. Then, a number of staff entered the gym, including two women, at least one of whom, Kathy Bryant, is a Registered Nurse. Officers ordered Michael Cheeks, who had been administering assistance to Valado, to halt his efforts and, along with the other men in the gym, to get up against the wall.

Bryant was then heard to say "I’m not putting my mouth on that man’s mouth!" an apparent reference to her unwillingness to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Valado.

Patients also report that the other (unidentified) woman at the scene was searching for an oxygen tank and mask which she was unable to locate.

A crash cart was brought into the room but it was discovered that it did not include a defibrillator. Patients later stated that they knew that there was a defibrillator on the other side of an always locked door to the gym but staff made no attempt to retrieve it or any other. Throughout this, Valado remained unassisted on the floor.

The other patients were then ordered to leave the gym. A gurney was brought in and Valado was taken to the Medical unit. However, no doctors were on duty at the time so staff then called a doctor to drive to the facility. However, before the doctor arrived at CSH., Frank Valado died.

The "Watch Commander" reportedly ordered all police staff to remain for the next shift, even if it was their third continuous shift on duty. The administration is said to have been seriously concerned for the possibility of patient anger and unrest due to the poor response by the hospital in Valado’s death.

Mike St. Martin, a Detainee Spokesperson who has actively sought to bring attention to what he sees as grossly negligent standards of medical care, said he was "unsurprised" by the lack of appropriate medical response by CSH staff, stating that, since the beginning, the institution had demonstrated an utter disregard for the well-being of patients in the facility. "The only thing about this place that says ‘hospital’ is the sign out in front. But that sign also says ‘No emergency services available.’ Well, they got that part right! We refer to this place as a ‘hosprison,’ since that its primary function is to act as a prison while pretending to be a hospital. The medical department here is a ticking time bomb with irresponsible delays, incorrect treatment, poor training, and medical care grossly deficient for an aging population. One can only hope that more people don’t have to die before sweeping changes can be made," St. Martin explained.

"I wrote to Attorney General Jerry Brown in April of this year detailing the terrible medical conditions here and, to date, I have not received a response from him or his staff".

Since Executive Director Norm Kramer assumed authority in September, Dr. Peter Bresler has stepped down as Chief Physician and Surgeon while remaining as a staff physician. Patients bitterly complained of their treatment by Bresler, with one saying he had been told by Bresler that treatment for his seriously distended hernia would be considered "cosmetic" and thus not surgery that he would approve. It has been alleged that he was fired from a previous job as a result of "dropping a baby".

Deficient medical care and rubber stamped clinical assessments were among some of the chief complaints leading to the still ongoing strike by Civil Detainees, now in its third month.

For Mike St. Martin’s streaming audio report on Frank Valado’s death as well as continuing coverage of the Detainee strike, visit

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