Kaweah Delta’s staff influenza vaccination rate is among highest in the state

Kaweah Delta’s efforts to keep patients and visitors safe by requiring all staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a face mask during cold and flu season have made it a leader in the state.

Kaweah Delta’s staff influenza vaccination rate has been 98 percent for the past two years, which exceeds the national Healthy People goal of 90 percent, said Shawn Elkin, Kaweah Delta’s Infection Prevention Manager. Kaweah Delta’s staff influenza vaccination rate ranked the hospital in a tie for the fifth highest in the state beside Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USC Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital, UC San Diego Health Hillcrest and La Jolla Jacobs Medical Center, both in San Diego, according to a new report published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) (for more information on this report, click here).

“This is really impressive and no small undertaking,” Elkin said. “With healthcare personnel influenza vaccination rates of 98 percent for two years straight; these results are evidence that healthcare personnel at Kaweah Delta are concerned about the patients they care for.”

Influenza vaccination coverage among health care personnel is an important measure of a hospital’s health care quality, according to CDPH. Health care personnel who receive annual influenza vaccination make an important contribution to prevent transmission of influenza to high-risk patients, their families, and the community.

Kaweah Delta, which has seen a 21 percent increase in the number of staff getting a flu vaccination since 2015-16, is also a key player in helping increase the aggregate healthcare personnel vaccination rate in California hospitals from 72 percent to 84 percent in the 2017-18 flu season, according to the report. Back in 2015-16, Kaweah Delta began requiring all staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a face mask during cold and flu season. Since that time, Kaweah Delta’s rate has gone from 77 percent to 98 percent, Elkin said.

Also in an effort to keep patients safe, Kaweah Delta has a year-round visitor policy in place, which helps facilitate a quiet, healing environment for patients, said Kathy Wittman, Kaweah Delta’s Infection Prevention Data Coordinator. The policy notes that the minimum age a person can be to visit patient floors is age 12, otherwise they can wait in the hospital’s lobbies accompanied by an adult (unless they have received special approval for extenuating circumstances).

There is still time to get a flu vaccination, even if people have already had the flu, Wittman said. “It is possible to have the flu more than once in the season. This flu vaccine is a good match; it was updated this year to provide better coverage to the different strains of the flu,” she said.

When people experience cold and flu symptoms, Kaweah Delta is urging the public to seek care from their personal physicians for conditions that are not life-threatening or will not require hospitalization. When that is not possible or the condition is urgent, but not life-threatening, people are urged to visit an urgent care facility or a walk-in clinic instead of the emergency department. The following locations are available:

  • Kaweah Delta Urgent Care: 1633 S. Court St., Visalia, 624-6090
    Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
  • Kaweah Delta Urgent Care: 3600 W. Flagstaff Ave., Visalia, 624-6800
    Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
    Kaweah Delta
  • Sequoia Prompt Care: 1110 S. Ben Maddox Way, Visalia, 624-5800
    Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays (Closed on Christmas and New Year).
  • Visalia Medical Clinic’s QuickCare: 5400 W. Hillsdale Ave., Visalia, 738-7555
    Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays

If you do not have a physician and need one, a same-day appointment may be available by calling:

  • Visalia Family Medicine Center: 202 W. Willow Ave. (5th floor), Visalia, 624-4820

Additionally during this time period, Kaweah Delta is urging patients for their protection and for the protection of others coming to the emergency department, to bring just one guest.

The following conditions/injuries (not an exhaustive list) can be treated at Kaweah Delta Urgent Care, Sequoia Prompt Care, or Visalia Medical Clinic’s QuickCare:

  • Fever or flu symptoms (cold, sore throat, cough)
  • Sprains, broken bones, fractures
  • Mild asthma/breathing difficulties
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cuts (minimal blood, stitches or staples)
  • Ear infections
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • Animal bites
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Burns or chemical exposure
  • Infected wounds

The following conditions/injuries should be treated at Kaweah Delta’s Emergency Department:

  • Heart attacks/strokes
  • Uncontrollable severe bleeding
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Coughing blood or vomiting blood
  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or vision changes
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in mental status/confusion
  • Open bone fractures

If you are experiencing any of these conditions, please call 911 immediately.

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