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Kaweah Health officials urge community to get vaccinated as hospital declares triage by code

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – The coronavirus pandemic has hit hospitals in the Central Valley in waves, but Kaweah Health Visalia is currently the hardest hit.

On Wednesday, they called its second internal disaster, known as code triage.

“Every single bed in the acute medical center was occupied,” said CEO Gary Herbst.

As of Thursday, 369 patients are being treated in the downtown medical center with no beds available.

111 of them are admitted for COVID-19, making it the hospital with the highest number of hospitalizations for covid in the state.

“90 to 95% of those 111 patients are unvaccinated and could potentially not be here, which would drastically change our condition,” Herbst said.

Meanwhile, there are more than 50 patients admitted while waiting for an open bed and 60 patients in the emergency room.

Doctors and nurses like Evan Schmidt haven’t taken a break.

“I mean, we fill the intensive care unit every day,” he said. “Our 21 intensive care beds are full and most of the time they’re all intubated.”

To lighten the workload, 17 nurses will arrive and Herbst hopes to start work on Friday. They also requested eight additional nurses.

They have tried to transfer patients, but currently no hospital in the Central Valley has an open bed.

Schmidt and Herbst say their message to everyone is to get the vaccine.

“The majority of the patients we see in intensive care who pass through are not vaccinated,” Schmidt said. “Many deaths could be avoided.”

The hospital is understaffed even with 1,600 nurses.

They are looking to fill 175 RN positions to help meet the demand.

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