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March 31, 2022 - Community Engagement Virtual Meeting


    1. Positive COVID-19 cases currently in Kaweah Health:
      As of this morning, we had 12 COVID-positive patients in inpatient beds.
    2. How many are in ICU and do we have empty beds in our ICU?
      None of the admitted COVID inpatients were in the ICU. As of this morning, five of our 21 beds in our medical ICU and six of our 20 beds in our cardiac ICU were available for admission or transfer.
    3. Hospital Census:
      As of this morning, 307 of our 332 adult inpatient beds were occupied with another 31 patients holding in the ED for inpatient admission; this equates to an adjusted occupancy rate of 102%.
    4. Vaccinated employee percentage:
      Our employee vaccination rate for those employees that are subject to the Governor’s vaccination mandate and are fully vaccinated with booster is approximately 60%.
  2. How many patients with COVID-19 have been vaccinated in comparison to those who have not?
    Some time ago we decided to no longer try to determine and then track this information for variety of reasons, primarily because it does not influence or alter how we treat a patient that is hospitalized for COVID. We initially tried to obtain a COVID patient’s vaccination status for statistical information only and to help the community understand how effective vaccines were at preventing hospitalization.
  3. Now that COVID-19 numbers have declined significantly, does this mean the hospital is no longer short staffed?
    Unfortunately, not even close. While our staff retention and recruitment is improving, it will take us some time to refill positions. We have approximately 500 full-time and part-time positions currently open (out of 5,100 total staff positions), with almost 200 of them Registered Nurses. After tomorrow when all of our State-procured travelers leave, we will be down to approximately 150. We continue to offer extra shift bonuses in the areas we are most short-staffed but the need for it is declining which is a positive signal that staffing is improving. We also have fewer employees on out leaves of absences (only 15 of those that are out on a COVID-related LOA
  4. If Kaweah Health is still short staffed is it because employees are leaving the healthcare field or are they going to other healthcare facilities?
    During the past two years, most industries, including healthcare, have lost thousands of employees to retirement, remote work options, moving out of the area, staff returning to school, and other personal reasons, including fear of virus exposure. That said, we have lost employees to other healthcare facilities or entities, including staffing agencies, where the pay may have been higher or the work was considered less difficult or demanding.
  5. When the newspaper reports COVID deaths (95 in two weeks) – what does COVID related mean? It caused their death or they just had it at the time of death?
    Tulare County Public Health has a team that reviews “potential” COVID-19 related deaths. There are quite a few nuances involved but, in general, most of the COVID-19 related deaths have COVID-19 listed on the death certificate as one of the causes or significant contributing conditions of the death. The team also looks at medical records when these are available. So the short answer is that COVID-19 actually contributed to the person’s death--not just that the person tested positive at the time of their death. For example, if someone had terminal cancer and only had cancer listed as the cause of death on their death certificate and no indication of other contributing factors from a COVID-19 infection (they didn’t have pneumonia, for example), but they tested positive for COVID while in the hospital, they would not be considered a COVID-19 related death.
  6. We spoke last webinar about the 4th shot that Pfizer was trying to get approved. What is the status of that approval and how will it affect your staff? Is it safe for ages 50+?
    This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave “emergency use authorization” to a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines for adults 50 years and older and immunocompromised individuals. As of today, a second booster shot for our employees and providers is entirely voluntary and not required. However, that could change if the Governor decides to make it mandatory for healthcare workers as he did with the initial booster shot. As for its safety and efficacy, I have to look to the FDA to make that determination, which they apparently have by authorizing its use.
  1. Where is Kaweah at in the Master Facility Plan process?
  • We have continued working with RBB to help develop a modified tower option to better serve the needs of the community.
  • Still looking at a single tower, however it might have a larger footprint and allow for a floor dedicated to surgery and recovery. Placing surgery on the second floor of the new tower would bring all of our surgical services into seismically-compliant and geographically-consolidated space, which would improve efficiency.
  • This new option also allows for each patient floor to have 40 beds per floor rather than the 30 previously proposed. This means our tower actually is shorter and could be reduced down to eight (8) stories versus nine, or even ten, with the added surgical floor.
  • While adding the OR floor increases the cost of the project we believe it is a necessary change. However, we are potentially offsetting some of that cost increase by reducing the tower height and therefore decreasing our overall building square footage.
  • We are meeting with clinical staff on April 5th to review floor plan layouts for feedback on operational function and based on that feedback will finalize the building layout and provide updated estimated costs as best we can; we should have an updated estimate by mid-May, if not sooner.
  1. Did the map get finalized for the new district boundaries?
    The Board will be conducting the final public meeting and will vote on the new district boundaries on Wednesday April 13th at 5:30PM at the SRCC Maynard Faught Conference Room.
  2. Not a question – but a comment - The new signage looks great on the 5-story building. Thank you.