Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) and Kaweah Health are complying with California Department of Public Health’s order that was released on Thursday, August 5th impacting visitation requirements beginning Wednesday, August 11.
When visiting using the main entrance of the hospital or the Emergency Department, visitors must either, verify that they are fully vaccinated or for unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated visitors, verify documentation of a negative COVID-19 test.
Fully vaccinated – forms of verification include an original CDC vaccine card or a digital scan or photo of it; or evidence of electronic immunization record form with the vaccination site; or California’s personal digital COVID-19 vaccine record QR code.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated – visitors are eligible for indoor visits only if they can show documentation of a negative COVID-19 test where the specimen collection occurred within 72 hours before each visit and for which the test results are available at the time of entry to the facility. Visitors may use either PCR testing or antigen testing. For the nearest testing locations, visit covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov/covid-19-testing-sites/.
No visitors will be allowed in the outpatient facilities surrounding SVMC’s or Kaweah Health’s main hospital. Visitors are restricted to one care taker of dependent adult or minors.
Effective Friday, Aug. 6, Kaweah Health Medical Center implemented a number of additional visitor modifications throughout its health system. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, patients who are not COVID-19 positive in the Medical Center can have one visitor each day (visitor can change day to day only). Children over the age of 16 can visit, as long as the child is accompanied by an adult and able to follow masking guidelines. All permitted visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new cough, new shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste) and required to wear a mask while in healthcare facilities and in patient care areas per state guidelines. Those who do not have surgical facemasks will be provided one.
Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s Chief Executive Officer, noted the significant increase in COVID-19 patients seen at Kaweah Health in the last two weeks. Kaweah Health went from 10 COVID-19 patients on July 23 to 54 COVID-19 patients on Friday. Eleven of those patients were in the ICU.
The State also mandated that by Sept. 30, healthcare workers in California must be vaccinated. “Those are going to be very challenging. Most immediately we’ll need time to determine how we are going to become fully compliant in terms of visitation by next week,” said Herbst.
Most concerning though, Herbst said is the concern that Kaweah Health and other hospitals statewide will lose nurses by enforcing the mandate. “My greatest fear now is that they will either leave the profession all together or leave the state of California and go to a nearby state. A nurse here can get a job anywhere in the nation,” said Herbst noting that already, Kaweah Health is down 140 bedside nurse positions.