Kaweah Delta limits visitors, sets up tents in response to COVID-19

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Monday, a Kaweah Delta Medical Center patient tested positive for COVID-19.

That patient continues to be treated in isolation, and Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst says the hospital has identified all staff members who came into contact with the patient.

"Those that may have been exposed, we are monitoring them very closely," Herbst said. "All of them at this point are asymptomatic, meaning they're not showing any symptoms. But if they should exhibit a symptom, then we will pull them out, we will test them, we will send them home."

Because of the spread of the coronavirus, Kaweah Delta started restricting visitors at some of their sites, including their skilled nursing facility, last week.

Effective noon on Wednesday, they implemented a no-visitor policy at the hospital as well.

Herbst says exceptions will be made for patients in the following categories: labor and delivery, end of life, and those who have dementia or are developmentally delayed.

The hospital is still accepting patients, but they will be screened at three entrances.

"(They'll be) checking temperature, evaluating any respiratory conditions to make certain that they're healthy to come in," Herbst said.

Three new tents have been set up at the emergency entrance on Mineral King Avenue.

One is to triage patients, another is for patients who may show symptoms associated with COVID-19, and the last will be used to collect specimens from those patients-to be sent to the county lab for testing.

More specimen collection tents have been set up southwest of the Acequia Wing Entrance, where Herbst says they've already swabbed hundreds of people Tulare County Public Health wants tested.

Inside the Acequia Wing, the hospital has also set up an incident command center to prepare for and respond to any new challenges related to COVID-19.

"At any given time, there's 20, 25 of our leaders, physicians, nurses, administrators (there)," Herbst said. "We have dedicated phones for community members to call in."

Also announced this week was Kaweah Delta's gym, the Lifestyle Center, closing through at least April 1.

Herbst says those employees may be able to work at other sites, including the hospital, in the days to come.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to abc30.com/coronavirus/.

He also expressed concern about healthcare workers, such as nurses, who now need to find new childcare options because their kids are out of school.

But so far, he says, that issue hasn't stopped people from coming into work.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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