By Shirin Rajaee

STOCKTON (CBS13) – A grieving Stockton family is now questioning if their loved one could have survived if he was transported to a closer hospital.

Since last Friday, the only trauma center in San Joaquin county is having to turn away major medical trauma patients after being temporarily restricted to accept such cases. These cases involve victims of shootings, stabbings, and crash injuries.

“This was our family member. What if the hospital could’ve taken him in? He probably could’ve still been here with us, ” says Trinidad Villasenior.

Trinidad’s cousin, 32-year-old José Nunez Junior, died after being shot in the head in front of his family’s Stockton home Tuesday night.

Nunez was alive and conscious while being transported to the hospital. The nearest trauma center was San Joaquin General Hospital, 6.5 miles away and a 13-minute drive. But since the hospital can’t accept major trauma patients, Nunez had to be transported to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, a trip that was 27 miles away and took roughly 34 minutes.

“I was really shocked at the time that he had to be sent so far away — not even airlifted,” said Jackie Gonzalez, Nunez’s aunt.

The county’s only trauma center hospital has been found out of compliance with several staffing requirements by the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services agency, or EMS. The main requirement is that all trauma doctors be board certified.

San Joaquin General Hospital CEO, David Culverson, says, “The biggest thing they feel is most important for us is that we have board-certified critical care physicians in our ICU. That’s really important for everyone to know that once it’s established we will have better physician staffing here in the hospital.”

The hospital is working 4-5 board certified physicians and are sorting through the credentialing process. They’re hoping to be fully operational by October 31st if not sooner.

Now all major trauma patients are being transported as far as Kaiser South in Sacramento and to Modesto hospitals: Doctors Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center.

AMR has not added any additional units yet, but they are monitoring the situation.

“This time it was us, but this could keep happening,” says Villasenior.

Families like Nunez’s say with each day that this is delayed, lives are on the line.


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