Military healthcare workers to help treat COVID-19 patients at Kaweah Delta

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The CEO of Kaweah Delta Medical Center says the coronavirus surge is here and can be directly attributed to the reopening of businesses following the state shutdown.

"I think people understandably (were) increasingly restless and wanting to get out there," Gary Herbst said. "We certainly stopped sheltering at home. And so we now have seen our positivity rate back up to 14% at the county level and now we find our COVID level at 68 patients."

In the four units where COVID-19 patients are being treated at Kaweah Delta, Herbst says there are just seven beds available.

Hospital-wide, there are 30 empty beds.

But they're creating even more capacity by setting up COVID pods in other units of the hospital.

"So they're all kind of clustered together and there's a nursing station that can look out over them," Herbst explained. "What we'd like to do is to create several four-bed or eight-bed pods that would be essentially COVID pods. So we would turn them into isolation rooms."

Herbst says they could also use beds at their rehabilitation hospital, if necessary.

In the meantime, the hospital will reduce, but not stop, elective surgeries.

They're also dealing with staffing shortages. Around 70 employees are infected with the coronavirus.

Herbst says the Department of Defense is sending them a team of 20 medical workers to help care for COVID patients in the intensive care unit.

"We're just very grateful that our military is making themselves available to us," he said.

The team of military healthcare workers will arrive at Kaweah Delta this week.

Their mission ends on August 7, but it could be extended.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.