A press release from Kaweah Health
Due to a rapid increase in patient hospitalizations, both with and without a COVID-19 diagnosis, Kaweah Health called a Code Triage on Monday, August 16, 2021 at approximately 1:30 p.m. A Code Triage is a disaster or problem that may affect the hospital and/or the patients and puts us at a heightened level of crisis preparedness so that we are better positioned to respond to emergencies.
On Monday as of 6:00 p.m., there were 340 inpatients being cared for in the downtown medical center and zero beds available for additional patients needing hospitalization. As of 6:00 p.m., there were 163 patients seeking care in the Emergency Department, 63 of which were awaiting admission. The remaining 100 patients were waiting to be seen by emergency providers or were holding for additional examination.
Patients are being cared for in overflow areas using nursing staff from other clinical and non-clinical teams. Currently, Kaweah Health Medical Center has 89 admitted patients with COVID-19, with six additional COVID-19 positive patients holding in the Emergency Department. More than ninety percent (90%) of all currently admitted patients with COVID-19 are being treated for a primary diagnosis of the virus. The surge of patients began on Saturday, August 14 and has steadily increased since that time.
“We cannot discharge enough patients to handle the number of admissions that are coming in,” said Keri Noeske, Kaweah Health Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “We are asking people to please reach out to their primary care doctors, day or night, for medical needs versus using the Emergency Department for non-life threatening issues. Right now, we have 63 patients waiting for beds and only 45 patients ready to be discharged.”
The medical center is still accepting patients but is significantly impacted. Wait times in the Emergency Department are exceptionally long, particularly for patients who are not in need of life-saving care. The community is highly encouraged to seek care from their primary care physicians or Kaweah Health’s Urgent Care Centers for non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries before seeking care in the Emergency Department. Kaweah Health has increased staffing in an effort to meet the rapid influx of admissions but the volume of patients seeking care is outpacing staffing efforts. Staff volumes are appropriate for a normal volume of inpatients, but not for the immediate surge underway.
“When coupled with staffing shortages, this intense patient demand is putting a significant strain on our organization,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health Chief Executive Officer. “Declaring an internal disaster mobilizes our resources and initializes our Incident Command Center.”
Kaweah Health has contacted other hospitals throughout the State to assess their capacities and request assistance transferring patients to their facilities for care. All hospitals in our region are reporting similar emergency situations and have no room to take additional patients.
Kaweah Health Urgent Care Site Hours and locations are as follows:
Court Street – 1633 South Court Street, Visalia, 93277
Daily 8:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Demaree – 3600 West Flagstaff Ave., Visalia, 93291
M-F 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The surge continues to evolve. For the latest COVID-19 information, visit www.kaweahhealth.org/COVID19 or follow Kaweah Health on social media. @kaweahhealth.