Kaweah Delta kicks off elective surgery with 38 patients, all test negative for COVID-19
Kaweah Delta kicks off elective surgery with 38 patients, all test negative
VISALIA, CA – Kaweah Delta’s first day back at elective surgeries
post COVID-19 was a busy one with all of its 38 patients testing negative
for COVID-19 prior to surgery.
“As a team we were excited to get back to work and help patients,
some who have put off surgeries due to COVID-19, but were in pain,”
said Brian Piearcy, Kaweah Delta’s Director of Surgical Services.
“We know this is not an easy time for patients because of our no-visitor
policy, but it’s for everyone’s safety. We spent a lot of
time on the phone today with our patients’ loved ones giving them
updates because we know that is important.”
In anticipation of starting back to elective surgeries, Kaweah Delta put
a number of measures in place for patients coming into the Medical Center
for surgical procedures to protect patients, staff and physicians. They included:
- Testing every surgical patient for COVID-19, 24-48 hours prior to surgery
- Pre-screening all patients the night before and the morning they arrived
for their procedure
- Continuing with enforcement of a no-visitor policy, with limited exceptions.
- Screening all visitors who enter the Medical Center.
- Unviersal masking for all individuals in the Medical Center, including
surgical patients, employees and medical staff.
- Enhanced facility cleaning and usage of personal protective equipment for
- Maintaining isolated units for COVID-19 care
- Requiring medical staff and employees to self-monitor for symptoms prior
to reporting to every shift.
- As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Tulare County, Kaweah Delta is
taking a slow and thoughtful approach to opening up services so that in
the event of a surge, it has beds available to care for the community.
While starting up elective surgeries, the focus remains on keeping patient
beds available in the event of a surge, said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Delta’s
Chief Executive Officer. “We’ll slowly start to reintroduce
other services knowing that we have the flexibility to stop at any time.
If we see that surge coming, we can ramp right back. If we see the numbers
continue to fall, we can accelerate,” he said.
Throughout COVID-19 and in preparation of beginning elective surgeries,
Kaweah Delta has taken a number of steps to ensure that the Medical Center
is a safe and clean environment for patients and staff. Kaweah Delta’s
Environmental Services (housekeeping) team has stepped up efforts to do
a terminal, or top to bottom, clean of those departments that were used
to cohort suspected or known COVID-19 positive patients during the pandemic,
but will no longer remain in use for that purpose. Additionally, Kaweah
Delta’s Environmental Services team has stepped up cleaning of high
traffic and high touch areas and has continued its work to clean patient
rooms and, every 24 hours, the team cleans operating rooms from top to
bottom even those that have gone unused, with hospital-grade disinfectants
approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Kaweah Delta’s Laundry Services team has also followed CDC recommendations
to clean and disinfect laundry. Employees use gloves and gowns when handling
dirty linens, clothing and other items that go to the department from
the Medical Center and the team makes sure to wash laundry in water that
heats up to 170 degrees – current research suggests that the virus
cannot withstand temperatures at or above 158 degrees.
“The hospital is probably one of the safest places you can be right
now given the amount of disinfection we are doing, the constant hand washing,
the constant wearing of the personal protective equipment,” said
Herbst, who noted that life-saving emergency surgery cases have continued
at Kaweah Delta. In April alone, 515 surgeries were performed at Kaweah Delta.
“We never stopped doing surgeries. All of those surgical patients
who have been coming to us for months have been in the safest place they
could be,” he said.
In an effort to encourage safety in the community, Kaweah Delta is also
asking the community to adopt the following safe practices to prevent
the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Maintain social distancing (6 feet apart)
- Wear face masks
- Clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Monitor for symptoms of illness (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss
of taste or smell, or GI problems, etc.)
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.