'Write your own history': South Valley doctors, nurses make desperate plea to stay home for holidays


The Action News story that aired on Tuesday stated, "Some nurses at Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville are putting in 140-hour workweeks to help meet the unprecedented demand for care."

Hospital officials say this isn't accurate. They say there was an instance of one ICU nurse working 140 hours within a pay period of two weeks (not one week).

South Valley hospitals are at a breaking point.

They're understaffed due to employees who are sick or in quarantine, and as admissions of COVID-19 patients continue to soar, staffed beds are scarce and emergency rooms are becoming overwhelmed.

RELATED: Central CA COVID-19 updates: Latest ICU capacities, stay-home order restrictions

They will continue to be here for the community, but right now, they say, the community needs to help them weather the impending storm.

"We continuously turn off our alarm clocks and crawl out of bed every single day to care for your loved ones," said Hannah Risvold, clinical manager of critical care services at Sierra View Medical Center. "The least that you could do is to do your part in preventing the spread."

On Tuesday, doctors and nurses from Sierra View, Kaweah Delta, and Adventist Health briefly stepped away from patients' bedsides to make a desperate plea to Central Valley residents: do not gather this Christmas and New Year's.

Joe Malli, a Kaweah Delta ICU doctor, knows it is a hard decision.

But by cancelling plans that put you and your loved ones at risk, he says you'll be on the right side of history.

"If your children don't ask you today, they'll ask you later when they're more educated-why you made the choice to get your uncle or father or mother or child sick," Dr. Malli said. "So my advice is write your history now. Take the high road, and give yourself an opportunity to tell your children what you did to help humanity, not what you didn't do."

The vaccine is here, but it's not widely available yet, and the providers say there's still no treatment that will guarantee positive outcomes for coronavirus patients.

RELATED: First COVID-19 vaccine administered at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia

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Kaweah Delta has two cases, or almost 2,000 doses, of the Pfizer vaccine.

So they say it's up to us to prevent a bad situation from getting even worse.

"In the emergency department, we're used to being the frontlines, but I'd argue that the public, the communities, you guys are the front lines, and really what you do matters," said Dr. Sakona Seng, an emergency room physician at Kaweah Delta.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 200 COVID-19 positive patients in Tulare County hospitals, including a record high of 167 at Kaweah Delta (20 in the ICU).

The first doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived in Tulare County and vaccinations are continuing at all three hospitals.
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