Caring For The Increasing Number Of Patients In Our Emergency Department
During the past couple of months the Kaweah Delta Medical Center and its
Emergency Department (ED) have been operating at full capacity. Our physicians
and staff have responded very effectively and continue to focus on delivering
excellent care to every patient. As it stands, the ED is one of the busiest
in the state seeing 97,000 patients each year, but the demand for our
medical services has increased to the point that we have taken the following
steps to best care for each person seeking medical care.
- We have set up a temporary reception tent immediately adjacent to the ED
to receive, evaluate, and register patients in that setting during periods
of peak demand. This will allow us to utilize, if necessary, part of the
current ED waiting area for the treatment of patients with minor conditions.
These efforts are designed to help us see patients more quickly.
- One of the challenges for patients arriving at the ED is that they are
often not aware of the number of trauma and emergency patients that have
arrived by ambulance or helicopter and who are being treated for life-threatening
conditions. Providing life-saving care is our first priority, and may
cause delays for those with less acute conditions
- In addition to our ED operating at full capacity, the Medical Center is
operating at the limits of its bed capacity. This creates very real problems
when patients require admission to the hospital. Our staff monitors and
manages our bed capacity on an hour-by-hour basis and we have taken a
number of steps to use our licensed beds and other treatment areas in
the hospital to best accommodate patients requiring admission to the Medical Center.
- We have increased our physician, nurse, and staff complements to ensure
that patients in both the ED and Medical Center are receiving the attention
required to meet their medical and personal needs.
The four points outlined above are a brief summary of the steps we are
now taking. For the longer term, our Board of Directors has already authorized
and funded a significant expansion of our ED and development of 24 additional
medical surgical beds and 23 new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds
on the fifth and sixth floors of the Acequia Wing respectively. The Board
has also authorized a new urgent care center in the Northwest area of
Visalia on Demaree Street. Our objective is to ease pressures on our ED
and to provide the best care possible to patients with urgent medical
conditions. This new urgent care center will join our existing Urgent
Care Center on Court Street, along with our two Sequoia Prompt Care centers
in East and West Visalia in providing three levels of episodic care for
our community: 1) trauma/emergency, 2) urgent care and, 3) prompt care.
You might ask “How can I help in addressing the situation outlined
above?” The most important thing that you can do, particularly during
flu season, which is just beginning, is to take excellent care of your
health by getting adequate rest, by eating properly, and by frequent hand washing.
Should you become ill, the best thing you can do for yourself and to assist
us during this busy season is to seek medical care, when needed, from
your personal physician. When that may not be possible or the condition
is urgent, please visit one of our urgent or prompt care centers. The
Visalia Medical Clinic also has a Quick Care Center that can very capably
assess and treat urgent medical conditions.
As the flu season is just beginning, I encourage each of you to take the
precautions outlined above to remain healthy. Should you experience a
medical condition that requires immediate care, please consider whether
that care can be obtained in a setting other than that of Kaweah Delta’s
ED. However, should you have a medical need that requires our ED, know
that we are doing everything possible to ensure that you get the best care.