Ventura County Civil Suit Details Gang’s Effect on Hospital
Ventura County last month filed a civil lawsuit seeking to impose an injunction against members of the Colonia Chiques gang because of the gang's illegal activities, including a "pattern of harassment and crime" at St. John's Regional Medical Center, Oxnard's only hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gang members frequently arrive at the hospital as victims of beatings, stabbings and shootings, the Times reports. The gang's activities are detailed in a 285-page declaration drafted by Oxnard Detective Neail Holland as part of the civil suit. According to Holland's affidavit, "The typical gang member emergency usually results in 20 to 30 people showing up at the emergency room," where gang members "are very loud, bang on doors, are rude to staff and disruptive, and have no regard for other patients or hospital property." In addition, the affidavit stated that the gang members "block off the entrance to the emergency room, obstructing the passage of those who need to use it"; "intimidate anyone who wants" enter the emergency department; and "continually try to obtain information from the emergency room personnel in a way that obstructs staff's ability to do their job." Gang members also are responsible for "thousands of dollars worth of vandalism" at the hospital, the Times reports.
If approved by a judge, the police-backed injunction would restrict Colonia Chiques gang members' activities within a 6.6-square-mile "safety zone," which includes the hospital. Under the injunction, gang members could receive care at St. John's, but fellow gang members would not be able to congregate there. Karen Wold, who is handling the injunction filed on behalf of the Ventura County District Attorney's Office, said, "It's horrifying what's been going on. Every time one of [the gang members] gets shot or stabbed, they create chaos at the hospital." Oxnard Police Chief Art Lopez said that hospital officials "were so happy to hear we were going to be involved with this injunction that they made their points to us and said they would appreciate anything we could do to help." Jennifer Robinson, a spokesperson for St. John's, said that hospital officials would not comment on the problems outlined in Holland's report. Ventura County Superior Court Judge Fred Bysshe is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case starting May 24, the Times reports (Wolcott, Los Angeles Times, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.