Kaweah Delta completes emergency department expansion project

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News received a tour of Zone 5 on Tuesday, part of Kaweah Delta Medical Center's $33 million emergency department expansion.

It's not serving patients yet, but construction is complete on the new 24-bed unit.

"That was our greatest fear is that construction would stop," Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst said. "Because it was going full speed ahead but fortunately, it didn't. So the construction team continued throughout the entire pandemic to continue working on this project."

Altogether, 41 beds have been added to the emergency department, for a total of 73 beds.

The department's medical director says the additional space ultimately means they can provide a higher level of care for patients in the South Valley.

"It will allow us to maintain a level of privacy and confidentiality," Kaweah Delta E.D. Medical Director Sakona Seng said. "I think the days (are gone) of working out of hall chairs, hallways, or even at times, winter seasons you guys have seen us operate out of tents in our parking lot. "I think all of us on the physician side recognize that's not how we want to necessarily continue."

South Valley hospitals became overwhelmed with patients during the winter COVID-19 surge.

While conditions are now improving in Tulare County, Seng says we're not out of the woods yet.

"Should it turn the other direction, we've got more flexibility in order to take care of patients," Seng said.

Hospital officials say the massive expansion will also attract new healthcare workers.

The hospital is hiring and will host an interview event for registered nurses next week. For information, visit their website.

"They want to work in modern, technologically advanced facilities where they have the tools and the resources," Herbst said.

Last but not least, the emergency room expansion includes a larger waiting room, and can now hold more than 100 patients and family members.

Though for now, the hospital is only allowing a visitor to be with a patient once they're taken to an exam room.

On Monday, the California Department of Public Health will conduct a site survey of Zone 5.

Patients could be treated in those beds before the end of the month.
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