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Amid continued decline in COVID-19 cases, Kaweah Health ends COVID-19 code triage

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Amid continued decline in COVID-19 cases, Kaweah Health ends COVID-19 code triage

VISALIA – After weeks of witnessing a continued and steady decline in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Kaweah Health will on Wednesday, April 27, beginning allowing one visitor per patient in its Emergency Department. The announcement comes less than a week after Kaweah Health closed its official command center and ended its COVID-19 code triage or disaster, first called more than two years ago on March 13, 2020.

“We’ve waited for this day for a long time and while these are things to celebrate, we ask our community to remember that we still have a variety of restrictions in place as mandated by the State,” said Keri Noeske, Kaweah Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and Incident Commander. “Please be kind to our team as they continue to enforce these mandates to ensure the safety of our visitors, patients, and staff.”

Starting at 6 a.m. on April 27, one visitor will be allowed to accompany a patient in the Emergency Department (ED) while they see a provider. However, due to space constraints, once the patient has seen the provider, the visitor will be asked to wait for their loved one in the lobby while orders are carried out. If a patient is placed in a room in the ED, two visitors will be allowed in a patient’s room, otherwise the patient and their loved one can remain together in the lobby.

The announcement was made today as Kaweah Health, the largest acute care hospital in the Central Valley, cared for seven COVID-19 patients and has gone more than four weeks without a COVID-19 patient admitted to its ICU. The last COVID-19 patient admitted to its ICU was on March 25, 2022. From March 2020 through March 2022, Kaweah Health had a total of 4,990 COVID admissions and in the same time period, it administered 308,726 COVID tests.

“We know that this has been a difficult and frustrating time for so many,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked very hard to protect and serve this community and we will always be thankful for everything this community has done in support of our team.”

By California State order, masks are still required in healthcare settings for all. Additionally, while Kaweah Health does allow two visitors a day for general visitation, the State of California is still mandating strict minimum COVID-19 visitation mandates that all hospitals must continue to follow. “We know how important visitors are to our patients, and that’s why we have one of the more open visitor policies of hospitals, both locally and statewide. While this remains a challenging time for everyone, we are committed to expanding visitation as soon as possible,” Noeske said.

The State’s visitation mandate requires that visitors of patients with emergencies, including those in Critical Care Areas, Pediatrics (Peds), Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Labor & Delivery and Mother/Baby show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test 72 hours after patient admission. Acceptable proof of a negative test includes:

  • COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test results from a medical facility taken within the last 48 hours
  • COVID-19 Antigen test results from a medical facility taken within the last 24 hours
  • COVID-19 self-tests, sometimes referred to as “home tests,” taken at a Kaweah Health facility under the supervision of a Kaweah Health employee. Please note Kaweah Health does not provide home test kits. Self-tests taken at home are not acceptable.

Unvaccinated visitors with a history of COVID-19 within the prior 90 days may provide documentation of recovery (copy of lab results) from COVID instead of testing. Visitors must be at least 11 days post positive for COVID-19.

All permitted visitors will be screened for symptoms of illness (fever, new cough, new shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste) and required to wear the appropriate and required personal protective equipment while in healthcare facilities and in patient care areas, per state guidelines.

Kaweah Health is a publicly-owned community healthcare organization that provides comprehensive health services to the greater Visalia region and Tulare County. With over 5,700 dedicated medical professionals and employees, Kaweah Health offers state-of-the-art medicine, high-quality preventive services, and specialized health centers and clinics. For more information, visit #