Kaweah Delta gets second tent for emergency department patients

Public is urged to visit doctors’ offices or urgent care clinics for non-life-threatening needs to ease demand on emergency department

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – In an effort to handle the additional traffic of flu patients, Kaweah Delta Medical Center has received approval from the California Department of Public Health to begin using a second tent outside of its emergency department (ED).

“We are pulling out all of the stops and doing everything under the sun to take care of patients during this very challenging flu season,” said Gary Herbst, chief executive officer of Kaweah Delta Health Care District. “We’ve actually never had two tents up at the same time.”

Kaweah Delta officials asked CDPH for permission to put up the second tent last week. The State gave Kaweah Delta approval today to begin using it for care. The tent, which is located east of the ED, serves as a staging area for patients who come to the hospital by ambulance, but do not have life-threatening conditions. It will immediately allow doctors and nurses at Kaweah Delta to take over care of the patient from ambulance emergency medical technicians (EMTs). This allows them to get back out and serve the community. Without the tent, EMTs bring their patients into the ED on gurneys and care for them until an examination room opens, crowding hallways.

“While this will allow us to immediately take over the patient’s care, more importantly, it allows these ambulances to get back out into the community and help people,” Herbst said. “These ambulances are dedicated to serving their communities. Not only are we trying to help make sure people get the highest levels of care at Kaweah Delta, we are helping first responders get back out there to care for people.”

Due to flu season and the recent closure of a nearby hospital’s emergency department and health clinics in Tulare, Kaweah Delta Medical Center put up a tent outside of its ED on Nov. 22 to expand the size of its waiting area to accommodate patient demands. On average, Kaweah Delta has seen 500 positive flu cases each week.

During periods of peak demand, the tent has been open, as needed, to provide a larger waiting room area for ED patients. The tent is a fully operable “room” which includes electricity, HVAC, and various supplies. It is also well-lit and rain-proof. Patients inside the tent are monitored by staff.

“Our ED is one of the busiest in the state seeing 90,000 patients each year, but the demand for our medical services has increased to the point that we have to take further steps to best care for each person seeking medical care,” Herbst said.

During this time, Kaweah Delta is also 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 ED. The following locations are available:

The following conditions/injuries (not an exhaustive list) are not life-threatening 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 ED:

  • 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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