Modesto Bee — Dignitaries and media members got their first look at California's massive new prison hospital Tuesday, but many of its well-paid staff members have been working there for months.
Psychiatric technician Sod Kommavong commutes up from Ceres. Donna Miles drives over from Tracy. Tonya Juneau just moved to Stockton from Southern California. And R. Addison is trekking down from Jackson every day until she can find a closer place to call home.
With about 2,500 doctors, nurses, technicians and mental health personnel, plus prison guards and support staff being hired, the new California Health Care Facility is stimulating the Northern San Joaquin Valley's economy.
State prison inmates with serious physical or mental health problems will begin arriving in mid-July. The nearly $900 million facility is expected to fill up with 1,722 patients by December.
Running the place will pump $1 billion a year into the local economy, predicted Jeffrey Beard, California's secretary of corrections and rehabilitation.
"This new (facility) is just the latest example of the state's dedication to providing inmates in California with mental health and medical treatment that rivals any prison health care in the country," Beard said at Tuesday's event. "We are serious about the health and well-being of the inmates entrusted to us." continue reading...