Kaweah Delta gets back to elective surgery business

Kaweah Delta began elective surgeries on Monday, May 18, testing all patients for COVID-19 before surgery

VISALIA – While the importance of hospital’s frontline workers were brought to the forefront in the last two months, hospitals were forced to put elective surgeries on the back burner.

As the state and Tulare County moves through Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan Kaweah Delta is reopen for elective surgery business. But they are taking care to not do it recklessly.

“We’re laying out a very methodical, slow return that will allow us to continue to preserve that open bed, just in case,” 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.”

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 (six 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’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.

Kaweah Delta shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its web site at www.kaweahdelta.org/COVID19 and on its social media accounts.

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