VISALIA, CA – Kaweah Delta is developing plans that will allow it to resume some hospital services as early as next week and elective surgeries by mid-month.
A key component of bringing more services online will be a process to test all surgical patients to determine if it is safe for them to have surgery, said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Delta’s Chief Executive Officer. Kaweah Delta will also administer the COVID-19 antibody test to its employees.
“It’s important that we are able to test every single patient the day before surgery,” Herbst said. “We’re laying out a very methodical, slow return that will allow us to continue to try to preserve that open bed, just in case. 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.”
Next week, Kaweah Delta will bring some outpatient services back online including its Sleep Disorders Center and Pulmonary Function Testing before opening up inpatient and outpatient elective surgeries later in the month.
“We deliberately stopped doing non-essential elective surgery to create that surge capacity that really has never materialized,” Herbst said. “A lot of these surgeries we have put off are important. Patients are looking for that painful knee to be replaced, that shoulder, that torn rotator cuff to get repaired. They are still in pain, but they have been putting up with it. We want to get those surgeries done.”
Despite scaling back elective surgeries, life-saving, emergency 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,” said Herbst, who noted that Kaweah Delta still runs 6-8 operating rooms all day long. “We continue to perform C-sections, do open heart surgery, neurosurgery, trauma, in a very safe way. 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.”
While Kaweah Delta has taken care of patients with COVID-19, it was careful in its approach.
“We’re the hospital that is taking care of the COVID patients, but we are really good at it. We’ve created dedicated units, where we have dedicated staff and physicians that are highly experienced and trained in caring for these patients,” he said. “They know exactly what personal protective equipment to use. They are constantly disinfecting, they are greatly minimizing exposures to our employees and our patients. I want to assure our community that it is very safe to come to our hospital today.”
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.