Kaweah Health partners with USC-affiliated hospital for urological care

Kaweah Health partners with Keck Medicine of USC to bring Visalia its first urology clinic, provides residents with needed urological care

VISALIA – Kaweah Health, in collaboration with Keck Medicine of USC, recently opened their first urology clinic in downtown Visalia to provide residents in Tulare County with the specialized medical services they need. 

The new clinic opened and began taking patient referrals on Oct. 11 and is located 325 S. Willis St., which is only a walk away from other Kaweah health facilities. Urology is a specialized medical service that focuses on the urinary-tract system and reproductive organs, and after it was revealed that Tulare County is lacking in urologists, Kaweah Health looked to deal with the issue. The medical facility partnered with Keck Medicine of USC, a licensed teaching hospital in Southern California, to get a clinic in Visalia.

“We will be able to see the majority of our community members and population who live in our primary area, and even in our secondary area cities, receiving urology care in our offices here in Visalia,” Kevin Bartel, Kaweah Health director orthopedics, neurosciences and specialty practices, said.

The clinic was brought to Visalia after it was revealed by an assessment from Sg2 Consulting, which is a part of the health care service company Vizient, Inc., that Tulare County has an urgent need for urologists. 

According to the Vizient, Inc. website, their company provides data-driven solutions and collaborative opportunities as a way to improve patient outcomes, amongst other services. Through a 2020 study from Sg2 Consulting, it was revealed that Tulare County required 11 additional urologists to reach the average of urologists needed to serve the county’s population size, according to a staff report from a Kaweah Delta Health Care District’s board of directors meeting. 

Also from the staff report, that the shortage of urologists in the county results in patients leaving the community for urology services, patients not having any access to urology services and a limited amount of urological call coverage at Kaweah Health Medical Center. Bartel said Kaweah Health has been having conversations about bringing Visalia a urology clinic for a while, and has even discussed it with Keck Medicine of USC over the last few years. He said the collaboration came to formalization in the springtime of this year.

According to Bartel, the companies invested in a piece of equipment for the facility called a blue light cystoscopy, which gives urologists a way to clearly visualize and detect conditions in patients at an earlier rate. This includes conditions like bladder cancer or other cancerous cells. The piece of equipment works by having the patient ingest medication and then use the blue light cystoscopy to look in the patient’s bladder for any cancerous cells, which would be made apparent by the medication.

“Our providers have been trying to set [the clinic] up with equipment that will help them to be cutting edge with how they can detect certain conditions, or early diagnosis, which can lead to better outcomes,” Bartel said.

According to Kaweah Health, the medical facility is operating the urology clinic in downtown Visalia in coordination with Inderbir S. Gill, M.D., who is executive director of USC Urology, a part of Keck Medicine and chair and a professor of urology at Keck School of Medicine of USC. 

“Working alongside the Kaweah Health system enables us to deliver preeminent urology care at a convenient location, lowering geographical barriers to access for these patients,” Dr. Gill said. “We are thrilled to work alongside our esteemed medical colleagues and our already strong local urology colleagues at Kaweah Health to expand the spectrum of available services for this community.”

Also according to Kaweah Health, the Central Valley region will have access to urologist subspecialists in Visalia as they are needed. This is included for conditions like female urology, male infertility, robotic surgery for cancer and non-cancer conditions, kidney stone treatment, cancer treatments, urinary leakage, microsurgery and genitourinary reconstruction.

Some additional Keck Medicine urologists at the clinic will include: Shilo Rosenberg, M.D., Gerhard Fuchs, M.D., David Alan Ginsberg, M.D., Jeffrey Loh-Doyle, M.D. and Jamal A. Nabhani, M.D., according to Kaweah Health. Additionally, Keck Medicine urologists will practice alongside local urologists Joseph Ford, D.O., Tu-Hi Hong, M.D. and Marty Prah, M.D. to ensure that Kaweah Health Medical Center patients have improved, on-call access to care.

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