Kaweah Delta adds emergency department beds
One of the busiest emergency departments in the state adds eight new beds as expansion project continues
VISALIA – There are more mosquitoes carrying diseases this year, more mountain lion sightings in residential areas, valley fever cases are on the rise and car accidents continue to mount. Luckily, there are now more beds at Tulare County’s largest hospital.
Late last month, Kaweah Delta Medical Center announced it has added eight new beds to its emergency department. While eight beds may not sound like a lot, it’s an important increase in the daily capacity of one of the busiest emergency departments in the state.
Kaweah Delta is the only trauma center between Bakersfield and Fresno. Its emergency department (ED) was built to serve 72,000 patients per year, but today, sees more than 90,000 patients per year.
“This is an important step in our efforts to modernize, expand and improve our emergency department to help meet the needs of our growing community,” said Gary Herbst, chief executive officer of Kaweah Delta. “We’ve opened up eight new beds in a new area adjacent to the emergency department for people with minor illnesses and injuries, but in doing so, we’ve made more beds and space available in our ED for patients who require a higher, more critical level of care. These beds are ultimately allowing our team to focus on caring for people who have true emergencies.”
Kaweah Delta enlisted the help of its community to test out the eight-bed area known as Zone 6, prior to its opening and ran a series of mock trials, testing everything from care to and ran a series of mock trials, testing everything from care to processes to the patient experience. Meg Salinas, a member of Kaweah Delta’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, was one of about 30 people who volunteered to be patients during the mock trials.
“These beds are going to help immensely to take off a lot of the overload in the emergency room. It will make things go much faster,” said Salinas, who as a council member has learned when to go to the ED versus when to go to the doctor or an urgent care. “It’s been really helpful for me because the more knowledge I have, the more I can help my family when they ask me whether they should go to the emergency room. I can help them and say, ‘Let’s go this direction instead.’”
After patients go through the ED registration process and the triage nurse takes their vitals, they enter a new Physician-at-Triage area. There, medical providers examine patients in this separate and enclosed space and order any labs, x-rays, or other tests a patient may need. Patients stay there for lab draws (the space has a TV and small waiting area), before heading back out to the ED waiting area until the team has the results to determine the next course of care. When Kaweah Delta’s ED expansion is complete, lab services will move from the basement to this area.
Also with the opening of Zone 6, Kaweah Delta’s former ED security weapon screening has moved to the Mineral King Wing near the Guild Courtyard gift shop. This allows Security Services to screen more people entering our Mineral King Wing, not just the ED, and adds another layer of security for Kaweah Delta patients and visitors.
Kaweah Delta’s ED is undergoing a multi-phase expansion that is expected to be complete in 2020. The $33 million project will modernize, expand, and improve Kaweah Delta’s ED facilities to better serve patients and meet the needs of the growing community by almost doubling the number of beds and the size of the waiting room.
Kaweah Delta has added a patient navigator to the ED who makes sure that patients are getting the care and information they need. In addition to answering questions and helping patients understand the process of care in the ED, the patient navigator, a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) can also monitor patient vital signs. Kaweah Delta has also made changes to ensure that after patients are seen by a registered nurse upon arrival and have vitals taken by an ED technician, they are seen by a doctor within 30 minutes of arrival so that any needed tests can be ordered.