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February 23, 2023 - Community Engagement Virtual Meeting


  1. Current Census at KAWEAH HEALTH
    1. Census
      As of 7:00 this morning we had an overall adult occupancy rate of 90.4% in the acute medical center, including seven admitted patients holding in the ED; 11 of 41 ICU beds, 19 of 54 ICCU beds and nine of 237 medical/surgical beds were available for occupancy.
    2. How many are COVID-19 patients?
      We currently have 22 COVID-positive adult patients housed in the acute medical center; no pediatric patients; one patient in the ICU on a ventilator.
    3. Are pediatric beds still in short supply at Kaweah?
      RSV activity continues to remain relatively low with only 10 reported cases last week of which five had to be admitted. Of the 12 beds on the pediatric unit, four were occupied this morning.
  2. Governor Newsom is ending the COVID-19 State of Emergency on February 28.
    1. How does that affect Kaweah Health?
      It will rescind many of the exceptions that were temporarily granted relative to use of non-licensed space for patient care, licensing of staff, staffing ratios, etc. Hospitals can directly request “program flexibility” to extend certain exceptions for their hospital only if they can demonstrate unusual circumstances (i.e., continued surge of patients).
    2. Do masking requirements end?
      No indication has been given that hospitals can relax masking requirements after February 28th.
    3. Do vaccine requirements end?
      There has been no guidance of changes to vaccination requirements for healthcare workers and whether they will end. However, we are no longer required to conduct weekly testing surveillance of non-vaccinated employees.
    4. When will the hospital totally open up to visitors?
      When CDPH and OSHA lift all visitor restrictions and medical center and ED occupancy rates drop to more normal and manageable levels.
  1. Staffing Update
    1. How many open positions do we currently have?
      As of February 21st, we had 487 open positions of which 184 were registered nurses, 59 were LVNs and 16 were certified nursing assistants.
    2. What is our current number of travelers?
      We currently have 105 traveler nurses on site at Kaweah Health Medical Center.
    3. Did Kaweah reduce the rates they were paying to travelers?
      Since November, hourly rates have been averaging around $125-$130, down significantly from the $200+ rates we were paying during the summer and fall. That said, we have still paid $36.1 million in contract labor since the beginning of the fiscal year, more than any entire year throughout the pandemic except for FY 2022 where we spent $41.4 million in contract labor. From March 2020 through January 31, 2023, we have spent a cumulative $97.1 million in contract labor.
  2. January Financials – is Kaweah trending in the right direction?
    Yes. While we still incurred an operating loss of $2.3 million for January, it is far less than the $8 million loss we experienced in July and August or the $12 million loss we sustained in September. In the first three months of the fiscal year, we had a cumulative operating loss of $28 million; for the past four months of the fiscal year, our cumulative operating loss is $11.4 million. If our revenue enhancement and cost cutting initiatives continue in the right direction, we hope to start breaking even or generating small operating profits over the last few months of the fiscal year.
  1. Can you give an update on how things are progressing with the legislators around Medi-Cal reimbursement rates?
    There has been a tremendous amount of non-stop advocacy efforts by the California Hospital Association, me and several other hospital CEOs. I have personally met with over 60 legislators and staff from the California Congressional Delegation and over 100 State legislators and their staff as well as Dr. Mark Ghaly, the Governor’s Secretary of Health & Human Services. We are asking the Governor to place a $1.5 billion one-time line item in his FY 2024 State budget to help get California hospitals back on their feet and to significantly overhaul the Medi-Cal reimbursements system. So far, no assurances but I think the bankruptcy and closure of Madera Community Hospital along with bankruptcy filing by several other California hospitals has got attention that was not previously there.