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Kaweah Health puts up tents to expand and improve its COVID-19 testing capabilities

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

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VISALIA – Kaweah Health has put up three tents to expand capacity and further improve the safety of COVID-19 testing for Tulare County residents.

Three tents, up since Friday, are available to assist Kaweah Health in collecting specimens, a nasal swab, from people who Tulare County Public Health wants tested for COVID-19. Kaweah Health is setting up a larger tent near the Emergency Department as well.

Tents are used by appointment only, when approved by Tulare County Public Health. Appointments take just a few minutes and allow individuals to return home to wait for results from Tulare County Public Health. Once the County approves individuals for testing, Kaweah Health schedules the appointment and notifies individuals of the location for their test.

“This is a proactive measure we took to expand our screening capabilities and to further protect patients, staff and our community,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health's Chief Executive Officer. “This is another step we are taking to keep possible COVID-19 patients away from people who do not have the virus, but we need our community’s help, too.”

People should not walk up to these tents, into a medical office, or into a hospital if think they should be tested for COVID-19. Instead, people who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 person or to a person who is under investigation for COVID-19, should do the following:

  1. Call their physician for directions; or
  2. Call the Tulare County Public Health line, 2-1-1
  3. If you are experiencing severe respiratory distress or fever, proceed to the closest emergency department, but call ahead, do not just walk in. If coming to Kaweah Health’s Emergency Department, call ahead to 559-624-2862, do not walk into the ED.

The larger tent near the ED is one that Kaweah Health has used before to expand its Emergency Department waiting area during cold and flu seasons. It will be set up as a fully operable "room" which includes electricity, HVAC, and various supplies. It will be well-lit and rain-proof. Patients inside the tent will be monitored by staff.

Kaweah Health has a dedicated team that works on infection prevention measures year-round, but established a dedicated task force in February that has been meeting regularly to help Kaweah Health improve its plan as COVID-19 has evolved. Additionally, it has activated an incident command center in the Medical Center that is being 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 patients to one visitor (children cannot visit) across the healthcare district (all others must wait outside buildings), except for at its skilled nursing program, where no visitors are allowed except for end-of-life patients. Additionally, Kaweah Health implemented temporary entrance changes that will limit the number of people going into areas where patients may be present. It has also cancelled all public events, removed volunteers from its sites, cancelled business travel, and asked its more than 5,000 employees to cancel internal meetings planned for 14 or more individuals 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.