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Kaweah Health announces first COVID-19 inpatient; second patient screened at hospital

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Laura Florez-McCusker

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Officials announce no visitor policy to keep patients, staff safe

VISALIA – On Monday, March 16, Tulare County Public Health Branch officials notified Kaweah Health that a patient at its Medical Center tested positive for COVID-19.

The individual is currently a patient in critical condition at the Medical Center and Kaweah Health is working closely with Tulare County Health & Human Services, as it begins its investigation into the case. The patient is in isolation and all employees and physicians in contact with the patient are wearing personal protective equipment. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Kaweah Health is working to identify all employees who came in contact with the patient, and will test and treat anyone who displays symptoms. This patient is the second patient to test positive for COVID-19 in Visalia. The first case was announced on March 13 after having been screened for COVID-19 at Kaweah Health.

In an effort to further protect patients, staff, and community members, Kaweah Health will implement a temporary no visitor policy at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at its Medical Center. Exceptions will be made for active trauma, labor, minors, and end-of-life patients, along with patients in need of critical procedures. Family and loved ones looking for patients can call 559-624-2000 for patient updates.

“As the rest of the country implements increasingly-restrictive measures to protect us from the coronavirus, Kaweah Health will move forward with similar protections for our patients, their families, our staff, our physicians and our community,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health's Chief Executive Officer.

Kaweah Health will position staff to help admit patients for their procedures at the following three Medical Center entrances:

  • Mineral King Entrance, 400 W. Mineral King Avenue. (entrance for emergency department, obstetric/labor, infusion, and lab patients)
  • The Surgery Center (located on the southwest side of the Medical Center) (entrance for surgery and endoscopy patients)
  • Acequia Wing, 305 W. Acequia Avenue.

Kaweah Health has also activated an incident command center in the Medical Center that will be staffed 24/7 to ensure that the organization can immediately respond to any situations that may arise. Senior administrative and clinical leaders will be staffing this command center. They are in frequent contact with Tulare County Health & Human Services, local hospitals, and other local healthcare providers to coordinate our responses to evolving community needs.

Kaweah Health has taken a number of measures to put the health and safety of patients and visitors first. They include limiting visitors, implemented temporary entrances, cancelling all public events, removing volunteers from its sites, cancelling all business travel, and asking its more than 5,000 employees to cancel internal meetings and use teleconferencing or online meetings instead.

Kaweah Health will continue to share COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its website at, via media statements, and on its social media accounts.

Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency advises if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, please call your primary physician or 2-1-1 rather than walking into a medical office or hospital. Your physician will connect with Tulare County Public Health to determine if testing is appropriate.