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Kaweah Health and Sierra View share crisis care guidelines publicly

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

VISALIA – As California experiences an unprecedented and exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, Kaweah Health and Sierra View have joined together to share how they would triage, limit, or ration care in the event of a declared state of emergency.

The plans were posted on hospital websites on Jan. 6 as mandated by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in All Facilities Letter AFL 20-91. CDPH mandated that all facilities publicly post one of the following on their websites: their own crisis care continuum guidelines, another facility's guidelines, or the State's California Crisis Care Continuum Guidelines.

“While it is our responsibility as a healthcare facility to plan for these types of scenarios, the hope is that we never have to use them,” said Gary Herbst, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Health, the largest acute care hospital in Tulare County and the only level III trauma center from Bakersfield to Fresno. “Our goal, no matter the circumstance, will always be to save as many lives as possible, in a coordinated and compassionate way, regardless of race, disability, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation or immigration status.”

Kaweah Health's policy, posted HERE, was created in April and adopted by its Board of Directors in May. It is consistent with existing recommendations for how to provide care when resources are scarce during a public health emergency. “As this pandemic continues, we will remain in daily contact with the State, our public health department, and other hospitals in Tulare County,” Herbst said. “Together, our goal is that in a declared state of emergency, we would be able to provide healthcare in a way that is coordinated and compassionate.”

In response to the increasingly overwhelming current surge, Sierra View is utilizing the California State SARS-CoV-2 Crisis Care Guidelines as it lays out the essential framework to help best protect the health of the community. Crisis care is not a separate triage plan but rather a part of the care continuum. It is an extension of the hospital’s surge-capacity plan, which addresses the ability to manage a sudden influx of patients, and its surge capability – the ability to manage patients requiring very specialized medical care.

The CDPH guidelines do not replace the judgment of Sierra View’s operational management, medical directors, legal advisors, or clinical staff, or consideration of other relevant variables and options. The purpose of California State SARS-CoV-2 Crisis Care Guidelines are to provide information to support Sierra View operations. Sierra View’s policy and guidelines can be found HERE.

“We stand in solidarity with our fellow Tulare County hospitals as we face the current unprecedented Covid surge in our hospitals and with the expected holiday surge that is yet to come,” stated Dr. Hudson-Covolo, SVMC Chief Nurse Executive. “We are in frequent communication with the Tulare County Public Health Department leadership, as well as the Bakersfield CDPH Field Director. Should we need to advance to crisis care, we will work together, jointly to provide care to our best abilities using the framework guidelines provided by the State of California.”