Kaweah Delta Chief Executive Officer answers community's COVID-19 questions
Kaweah Delta Chief Executive Officer answers community’s COVID-19 questions
VISALIA – As the number of cases rises in the Central Valley, many
people have questions and concerns about COVID-19. Gary Herbst, Kaweah
Delta’s Chief Executive Officer, recently took to social media to
answer questions and provide information for Central Valley residents.
Here are some of the questions asked, along with Herbst’s answers:
Question: Is every patient admitted to the hospital being swabbed for the coronavirus?
Answer: No. We have many patients as you can imagine that come to the hospital.
They come for a variety of reasons – trauma, heart attacks, strokes,
surgery, etc. When they are not exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus –
fever, coughs, temperatures of 100.4 or higher - we do not just automatically
swab them. If we did, this country would quickly run out of supplies.
We would run out of the things that are required to collect specimens
and we would absolutely run out of the testing supplies. We have to be
very judicious and very prudent in our use of supplies.
Question: Are hospital staff being given adequate personal protective equipment?
Answer: There are very carefully designed protocols of when to use personal protective
equipment (PPE). That applies to healthcare providers and to patients.
Generally, the first person to receive PPE is the patient themselves.
If a patient comes in and has an active respiratory issue, whether coughing
and expelling micro droplets, we put a mask on them. This is to protect
the providers, the people taking care of them. We then determine who is
going to be caring for the patient and what PPE they should be wearing,
which is always gloves and then often: gowns, N95 surgical masks, shields,
etc. Each patient is assessed to determine what the risks are and we provide
appropriate equipment to those caring for them. PPE is changed out when
appropriate following the CDC’s algorithm to keep staff and providers
protected. Like all hospitals, we have been running low on supplies, but
when the President declared a national emergency, it freed up the national
stockpile and we received N95 and surgical masks to add to our supply.
Question: How many ventilators does Kaweah Delta have?
Answer: Ventilators are machines that help people breathe when you need to intubate
a patient who has pneumonia and is struggling to breathe on their own,
something that happens in advanced stages of COVID-19. Kaweah Delta has
104 ventilators, nine are designed for pediatric patients, the rest for
adults. We have some in use, but we have 50 in stock and in inventory
that are not being used.
Question: Is there any chance that Kaweah Delta would change to a no-visitor policy
with no exceptions?
Answer: Like Kaweah Delta, other hospitals, have implemented no-visitor policies,
many with exceptions to allow certain types of patients to have one visitor
- minors, end-of-life patients, Labor and Delivery/Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit/Pediatric patients, disabled or developmentally delayed patients.
I do not see any scenario with respect to someone having a C-section that
their partner would not be allowed in the room. Things are changing daily,
but it may be that they will just have to wear additional PPE.
Question: What are you doing to keep patients and their families connected?
Answer: Kaweah Delta Medical Center is 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. When a patient would
like to use an iPad, they simply ask a member of their clinical team for
one. Patients are given an iPad 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 has taken a number of measures to put the health and safety
of patients and visitors first. They include institution of a no-visitor
policy, screening patients outside of its Emergency Department for COVID-19
symptoms, implementation of temporary entrances, cancelling all public
events, removing volunteers from its sites, cancelling all business travel,
and asking its more than 5,000 employees to cancel internal meetings and
use teleconferencing or online meetings instead.
This week, Kaweah Delta launched a new, free screening hotline intended
to assess people who may have COVID-19 symptoms from the safety of their
home to avoid the unnecessary exposure of themselves and others. The free
hotline allows an individual with COVID-19 symptoms, to schedule a same-day
appointment with a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners call the individuals
for a phone screening to determine if they need to visit a COVID-19 testing
site or medical facility. Anyone can call the hotline at (559) 624-4110,
but people with primary care physicians should call their physician for
an assessment first. COVID-19 symptoms include the following within the
last 14 days:
- Fever of 100.4 degree F (38 degree C) or higher
- Excessive dry cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Travel via plane, train, or cruise
- Exposure to someone with confirmed case of COVID-19.
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.