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Baja to Build Operating Room in Tijuana Prison to Protect Hospital Doctors

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Aired 4/19/09

Baja California's Secretary of Public Health says the state will build an operating room at the penitentiary. That's to protect doctors at Tijuana's General Hospital from attending to suspected drug cartel members. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Many doctors at Tijuana's General Hospital say they're afraid to work there knowing that wounded drug cartel members could be rushed in for treatment at any moment.

Last April, drug cartel gunmen blasted their way into the emergency room to rescue a wounded cohort. They killed two policemen in the process and then holed up inside the hospital for half the day.

The Hospital went on lockdown again last month after eight gunmen injured in a grisly shootout were rushed in for treatment. Doctors were forced to turn away non-emergency patients for a few days afterwards due to security concerns.

Since last month, doctors have implored government officials to stop the violence in Tijuana and protect them.

Health officials say the new operating room at the state lock-up could take up to five months to complete and will have three to five beds.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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