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Kaweah Health re-opens essential services as Tulare County works to re-open for business

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

VISALIA, CA – As Tulare County works to re-open businesses and places of worship, Kaweah Health is working to bring essential services back online in the safest possible way.

On Monday, June 1, Kaweah Health will continue its phased re-opening approach by bringing its Cardiac Rehabilitation Program back online. This phased approach began May 18, when Kaweah Health reopened elective surgeries and procedures. Kaweah Health's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, helps people improve their health and recover after a cardiac-related event or procedure. Also June 1, all patients entering Kaweah Health facilities will be asked to wear a face mask (hospital patients, outpatient lab, imaging, and Kaweah Health Medical Foundation/Visalia Medical Clinic patients, etc.). In addition, to further protect patients and staff, Kaweah Health has placed Plexiglass in patient registration areas and installed stickers on floors to ensure social distancing is being practiced.

“As the community around us continues to re-open, we are seeing more patients in the Medical Center for a variety of reasons. Our Emergency Department continues to get busier as people begin to re-engage in normal activities,” said Dr. Ryan Gates, Kaweah Health's Vice President of Population Health, noting that Kaweah Health is carefully monitoring patient volumes in order to maintain capacity for any potential surge. “We’re committed to working with Tulare County and our community as we all strive to find our new normal and with how well things have gone with re-opening elective surgeries, we’re confident we will.”

Kaweah Health has taken a slow, cautious approach to re-opening services. “We are reintroducing services knowing that we have the flexibility to flex them down at any time,” Dr. Gates said. “We have taken a close look at where access has been limited to our community and are prioritizing our efforts to get those services back up and running in the safest way.”

Dr. Gates co-chairs the Tulare-Kings COVID-19 Coalition along with Annette Burgos of Tulare County’s public health department where leadership from all the hospitals, health centers, medical society, etc. work together to share best practices, resources and data that informs our County’s ability to re-open.

Already, Kaweah Health has resumed a number of services, including elective surgeries (these patients are tested for COVID-19 prior to surgery). In order to bring additional services back online, next week Kaweah Health will begin to wind down its labor pool, comprised of employees whose departments closed due to COVID-19. These employees were stationed at facility entrances conducting temperature checks and safety screenings; screenings will continue, but now will be performed in patient registration areas. The healthcare district has asked its employees who are working remotely to continue working from home until July 6. Also, this week, nearly 400 employees were tested for the presence of antibodies to COVID-19; all 5,000 employees are being offered the test.

Kaweah Health is also working to retrofit a building on its Court Street campus so that it can move its COVID-19 specimen collection site from downtown Visalia in mid-June. The move would allow the City of Visalia to open Floral Street between Main Street and Acequia Avenue, which has been closed since April and will bring the testing inside air-conditioned space just in time for the coming summer heat.

In an effort to encourage safety in the community, Kaweah Health asks the community to continue following safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Maintain social distancing (6 feet apart)
  • Wear face masks
  • Clean/disinfect frequently-touched surfaces
  • Monitor for symptoms of illness (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, or GI problems, etc.)

Kaweah Health shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its website at and on its social media accounts.