In wake of no-visitor policy, Kaweah Delta will use tech to connect patients and families
In wake of no-visitor policy, Kaweah Delta will use tech to connect patients
VISALIA – A Visalia hospital is determined not to let the temporary
no-visitor policy it implemented earlier this week to protect staff, patients
and community members from COVID-19, get in the way of connecting patients
with their families.
Beginning on Friday, March 20, Kaweah Delta Medical Center will begin issuing
iPads to patients who do not have devices capable of live streaming technology
so that they can virtually visit with loved ones during their hospital stay.
“Having a baby is one of those happy moments in a hospital, but otherwise
it can be a scary, anxious time when you most want to be surrounded by
family and loved ones to comfort and support you,” said Gary Herbst,
Kaweah Delta’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are a compassionate
organization and we understand that’s a very important part of the
healing process, so we want to be able to provide alternative means where
family members can still stay connected to their loved ones.”
When a patient would like to use an iPad, they simply ask a member of their
clinical team for one. Patients will be given an iPad for up to 10 minutes
to ensure that all patients have an opportunity for a virtual visit. When
patients finish with the device, clinical staff will clean the iPad with
germicidal disposal wipes and clear the call history.
Kaweah Delta is relaxing enforcement of its video and photography policy
to allow these virtual visits. However, patients may not use these devices
in the following instances: in the Emergency Department, at Kaweah Delta
Mental Health Hospital, during deliveries until the newborn is deemed
stable by the physician, when being treated by employees or physicians, etc.
“We will do everything we can throughout the organization to make
those devices available and to help our patients and families make those
connections,” Herbst said. “These are decisions that we are
really grappling with because I will tell you, first and foremost, we
remain a very compassionate organization. We’re balancing compassion
with that desire to protect our community from contracting the virus and
stop the spread.”
Kaweah Delta’s no-visitor policy was implemented on Wednesday, March
18. Exceptions are made for:
- End of Life patients
- Labor & Delivery/NICU/Pediatric patients
- Dementia/developmentally delayed patients
If an exception is made for a visitor (must be the same visitor throughout
the patient’s stay), they must pass a temperature and respiratory
infection screening. Family and loved ones looking for patients can call
559-624-2000 for patient updates.
On Friday, March 20, Kaweah Delta expects to begin using three tents to
help screen patients who show up to its Emergency Department. Two of the
tents are fully operable "rooms" and includes electricity, HVAC,
various supplies. They are well-lit, rain-proof and were previously used
to expand ED waiting areas during cold and flu seasons.
ED staff will use one tent to triage all patients who come to the ED, but
will use a second tent to isolate patients with respiratory symptoms.
Hospital staff will use the third, smaller tent, to collect a specimen,
a nasal swab, from individuals who meet criteria for COVID-19 testing.
Patients can then put on a face mask and drive home to self-isolate until
they get their results from the County. Testing itself is not done at
Kaweah Delta, but specimens are sent to the Tulare County Public Health
Laboratory, which conducts testing to determine whether an individual
is positive for COVID-19.
“Obviously, there will be those patients who need immediate treatment
- we still have heart attacks, strokes, traumas and they will come right
in, but everything else will come through the tents,” said Gary
Herbst, Kaweah Delta’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re
trying to protect our community from contracting the virus and stop the
spread. This is spreading rapidly and you see across the nation hospitals
are locking down for protection.”
Kaweah Delta will continue to share COVID-19 information and regular updates
with the community on its website at
www.kaweahdelta.org/COVID19, via media statements, and on its social media accounts.
Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency advises if you think you
have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory
illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, please call your primary
physician or 2-1-1 rather than walking into a medical office or hospital.
Your physician will connect with Tulare County Public Health to determine
if testing is appropriate.