Major Trauma Patients in Stockton Not Taken to San Joaquin General

STOCKTON -- Major trauma patients, like those involved in car accidents and shootings, will not be treated at the San Joaquin General Hospital’s trauma center.

Instead, they’re referred to hospitals outside of county lines because the hospital has to prove they have enough surgical staff 24/7.

"It’s no accident that we’re the second most violent city in California and now you are literally like lowering our chances of survival,” community activist Montecuzoma Sanchez said.

On Oct. 1, the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency announced the temporary restriction. Patients north of 8 Mile road are taken to Sacramento while south of 8 Mile, Modesto is the destination.

"Having to go all the way to Modesto or Sacramento is losing valuable time in a traumatic situation where every second counts,” Sanchez told FOX40.

The CEO of the hospital, David Culberson, says, "The biggest one (requirement) is making sure we have qualified board certified general surgeons at all times,” hospital CEO David Culberson said in a phone interview. He said their team is working to recruit and retain staff members.

Sanchez said the current constraint may have led to tragedy earlier this week. On Tuesday night, Jose Nunez was shot in the head outside of his home in south Stockton.

His family said he was conscious at the time and was driven by an ambulance to Modesto. He died at Doctors Medical Center.

"I mean we can’t say for sure if it was a time constraint but that’s something that should be a little bit concerning to everybody,” Sanchez explained.

While the restriction expires at the end of the month, Sanchez believes the county should do more to prevent this type of problem from happening again.

"It was a train wreck that they could see coming you know from afar. That’s why I attribute it to mismanagement,” Sanchez said.

Culbertson told FOX40 they are hoping to take in major trauma patients by early next week. For now, they will treat patients not suffering from major trauma as they continue to operate as a Level 2 trauma center.