Kaweah Health officials urging community to get vaccinated as hospital declares Code Triage

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted hospitals across the Central Valley in waves, but Kaweah Health Visalia is currently hit the hardest.

Wednesday, they called its second internal disaster, known as a Code Triage.

"Every single bed in the acute medical center was occupied," says CEO Gary Herbst.

As of Thursday, 369 patients are being cared for in the downtown medical center with no bed space available.

111 of them are admitted for COVID-19, making them the hospital with the highest amount of covid hospitalizations in the state.

"Ninety to 95% of those 111 patients are unvaccinated and could potentially not be here, which would change our condition dramatically," Herbst said.

Meanwhile, there are more than 50 admitted patients waiting for an open bed and 60 patients in the ER.

Doctors and nurses like Evan Schmidt haven't caught a break.

"I mean, we fill the ICU every day," he said. "Our 21 beds in the ICU are filled and most of the time, they are all intubated."

To alleviate the workload, 17 nurses will arrive and Herbst says hopefully, begin working Friday. They also put in a request for an additional eight nurses.

They've tried transferring patients, but currently not one hospital in the Central Valley has an open bed.

Schmidt and Herbst say their message to everyone, is to get vaccinated.

"A majority of the patients that we see in the ICU and who pass are unvaccinated," Schmidt said. "A lot of the death could be avoided."

The hospital is short-staffed even with 1,600 nurses.

They are looking to fill 175 RN positions to help meet the demand.
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