Visalia hospital Chief Executive Officer answers community's COVID-19 questions
Visalia hospital Chief Executive Officer answers community’s COVID-19 questions
VISALIA – Why has the Department of Defense sent a team to Kaweah
Delta? What is Kaweah Delta’s plan when beds fill up? Is Kaweah
Delta cancelling urgent, non-essential surgeries? Does Kaweah Delta send
out COVID test results by mail? What is the average age of hospitalized patients?
These are just some of the questions that Tulare County residents asked
in the Visalia hospital’s most recent online video conference of
Gary Herbst, Kaweah Delta’s Chief Executive Officer.
Question: Why has the Department of Defense (DOD) sent in a healthcare team to Kaweah Delta?
Answer: Last week, Kaweah Delta welcomed 21 U.S. military healthcare workers –
most from Travis Air Force Base – to assist staff in caring for
COVID-19 patients for 30 days. The team is part of 190 military healthcare
workers that are being deployed through the state’s emergency management
system to hospitals throughout the state that are caring for large numbers
of COVID-19 patients. Kaweah Delta accepted the DOD’s offer to assist
with patients due to staffing challenges as a result of approximately
70 staff members quarantined. These are primarily registered nurses, licensed
vocational nurses, and certified nurse assistants. In the meantime, Kaweah
Delta is hard at work to develop solutions to staffing challenges. Those
include incentivizing clinical staff to work additional shifts, hiring
additional clinical staff, training all registered nurses on staff with
a license so, that in the event they are needed, they are prepared to
serve at the bedside, and hiring more student nurse interns.
Question: Is the hospital full of COVID-19 patients?
Answer: No, Kaweah Delta is averaging 90 percent capacity, but it is not 90 percent
full of COVID-19 patients. Kaweah Delta has 333 patients available to
adults, which excludes Maternal Child Health (the nursery, the Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit, Mother-Baby, Labor and Delivery, Pediatrics, etc.
Kaweah Delta leaves those beds out of the total available beds because
it does not put COVID-19 patients in those areas.) Of those 333 beds,
as of 8 a.m. on July 20, 289 of those beds have patients in them, of which
65 are COVID-19 positive, so the vast majority of patients are in the
hospital for other reasons that require hospitalization – car accidents,
heart attacks, open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery.
Question: What is the plan if Kaweah Delta’s beds fill up?
Answer: Kaweah Delta does have surge contingencies in place. As of 8 a.m. on July
20, Kaweah Delta has 44 beds open in the medical center, 24 of them in
COVID-19 designated areas of the Medical Center. In some areas of the
Medical Center, Kaweah Delta could go to double occupancy, shut down its
endoscopy unit and turn it into an inpatient unit, along with other options.
If beds were no longer available in the Medical Center, Kaweah Delta could
use open beds at its Rehabilitation Hospital on Akers, which during COVID
has had about 30 or more beds open, to care for patients. For example,
instead of admitting surgical patients into Kaweah Delta Medical Center,
Kaweah Delta could admit them to the Rehabilitation Hospital for post
recovery, which would free up beds in the Medical Center downtown. Additionally,
Kaweah Delta could use open beds in its short-stay unit also inside its
Rehabilitation Hospital. There is also the Porterville Development Center,
which is only currently being used for patients of skilled nursing facilities
who were COVID-19 positive, but no longer require acute care. That could
be an alternative option for patients.
Question: In light of the Lifestyle Center closing, is Kaweah Delta cancelling urgent,
non-emergency surgeries again as well?
Answer: At this time, no. We continue with emergency and urgent, non-emergency
surgeries. When Kaweah Delta restarted urgent, non-emergency surgeries,
it did so in a way that would allow the Visalia hospital to ramp up or
ramp down as decisions are dictated. Urgent, non-emergency surgeries are
really quality of life surgeries. These could be patients in a lot of
pain, a hernia, a joint replacement, etc. Kaweah Delta is running 11 operating
rooms and is doing 8-11 non-emergency surgeries per day. Right now, Kaweah
Delta is continuing to be very careful and cautious.
Question: What is the average age of hospitalized patients?
Answer: We have about 40% of our patients with COVID who are under the age of
60. Our youngest patient hospitalized with COVID is 25 years old and many
of our patients are in their 40s and 50s. Our critical care areas are
split 50/50 with patients over and under 60 years old.
Question: Does KD send out COVID test results by mail?
Answer: No, Kaweah Delta does not notify people of results by mail.
Question: What is the turnaround for a COVID-19 test these days?
Answer: It all depends, especially in recent weeks. If your specimen is collected
at Kaweah Delta's Floral Street collection site, the turnaround could
be: Same-day for local healthcare workers, 24-48 hours if done by the
County lab, 14-17 days if done by a commercial lab (mostly asymptomatic
patients). Anyone who has symptoms and would like to be tested needs a
physician referral. If they do not have a physician, they can call 211
or Kaweah Delta’s COVID-19 Hotline at 559-624-4110.
Kaweah Delta shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community
on its website at
www.kaweahdelta.org/COVID19 and on its social media accounts. #