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February 3, 2022 - Community Engagement Virtual Meeting


    1. Positive COVID-19 cases currently in Kaweah Health: 120
    2. How many are in ICU and do we have empty beds in our ICU?16
    3. Hospital Census: 325 Adults in Beds and 48 admitted patients in ED beds holding for inpatient beds
    4. Vaccinated employee percentage: 82% of employees and 96% of medical staffare vaccinated
  1. What is the percentage of patients who are vaccinated vs. unvaccinated and, of the vaccinated patients, what is the percentage of those who have had the booster?
    This is not a reliable piece of information to share at this time. We will work on trying to develop a way to get the data without overwhelming the resources. When we were reporting this with the County in the fall, we had one person who did a lot of investigating. As numbers increased and resources became tighter we stopped investigating every admission. When patients reported they were vaccinated, we verified it in the Immunization Registry. This system is not designed to recognize variations in people’s names. Therefore, if they put a hyphen, a lower case letter instead of an upper case, added their middle name or middle initial – it would not show up. We had to try many variations of a name to verify the vaccine; and even then all we knew was we could not find it, not necessarily that they were vaccinated or not. We still ask the question but we have not asked our patient care team to ask and document about boosters at this time. We will work to add this question and verification for the future. What we do know is the booster is 90% effective in preventing hospitalization against the Omicron variant.
  1. What differentiates the Omicron from the Delta and are you seeing different symptoms leading to hospitalizations?
    The symptoms are primarily the same but in Omicron we have heard more reports of GI type illness than we did with former variants. Hospitalizations have increased after the drop in the fall, but people have shorter lengths of stay and we are not seeing patients, vaccinated or not vaccinated, needing care in ICU as frequently as we did in our surge last year before vaccinations were available. Omicron spreads easier in the population, regardless of vaccine, than the Delta variant did. Each week one of our clinical documentation specialists reviews records and identifies how many patients with COVID were admitted, what their length of stay was, and if COVID was the primary or incidental reason for admission. We test everyone for COVID and with this variant being so contagious and spreading through so many people, it is not surprising to find people with little to no symptoms having COVID but being admitted for some other diagnosis. We call this an incidental finding. We are treating them for another diagnosis but also have to consider COVID as well. We have about 55-60% of the total patients with COVID who are being treated primarily for COVID. The rest have COVID as a secondary diagnosis. We are still reporting these as required by the state and federal government. We are also still using isolation precautions for them to protect other patients and staff – which is normal practice in the hospital setting. We do this for patients who are positive for the flu, chicken pox, TB and many other easily spread diagnoses.
  1. Are we seeing less death with the Omicron?
    Yes- we are seeing less severe cases and death with this variant but continue to be cautious since it spreads easily and can cause people to become ill or hospitalized.
  2. How is Tulare County doing compared to other counties in the state regarding positivity rates?
    We are trailing behind the State in this current pandemic but we followed the same pattern with a rapid increase and a quick descent. We were ranked fifth in the State a week ago, now we are 12th with a 7-day positivity rate of 27.4%. One week ago we were 32.3%. The State positivity rate is now at 13.4%, down from 17.8% one week ago and 21.1% wo weeks ago. We have been about two weeks behind the rest of the State with this surge, but we will continue to come down. I don’t think our ranking of 12th in the State indicates anything other than the rapid course this strain has taken and how we are progressing.
  3. Have you had a high percentage of fully vaccinated employees receive the booster?
    We have 60% of our employees and 85% of our medical staff who have reported receiving their booster. We have a February 24 deadline for everyone to turn in their documentation or declination, so we are still gathering numbers.
  4. Are your employees going to be testing indefinitely, or will this continue into the foreseeable future?
    While I have no one anywhere in the regulatory offices who has indicated a potential end to testing and quarantining requirements, I do feel we are not far from moving out of a pandemic state. This variant presenting in a milder form has given hope of a continued trend of the virus being less devastating when people contract it.
  1. Can you talk about Redistricting?
    1. Why are we doing it?
      All local governments that elect by district must, every ten years, redraw their district lines to assure that all districts have nearly equal population. Local redistricting involves any county, city, school district, community college district or special district that is divided into districts or divisions. We fall under the “Special District.” These local government agencies are required to review their current district boundaries with new population figures from the 2020 census and engage in a redistricting process right along with the state.
      If districts are drawn that keep communities intact, people are better able to elect representatives who will further their interests. Frequently, local redistricting draws little attention. But it is no less important for citizens to be represented and have fair districts drawn at the local level than it is at the state and federal level.
    2. How often does it need to be done?
      This redistricting process should be done every 10 years. We have not done this process in over 30 years so it is long overdue. If you are interested in being a part of the process, you can come to our next public meeting February 9, at 5:30 at the Sequoia Regional Cancer Center Conference Room. We encourage you to take a look at our current maps and find more information on our website at