daniel allain

Daniel Allain, assistant chief nursing officer, critical care administration at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, speaks in the trauma bay. Kaweah Delta has started a massive expansion of the emergency department. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

published on December 5, 2017 - 2:03 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

Phase 1 for expansion of the emergency department at Kaweah Delta Medical Center has started, kicking off a project that is expected to take nearly two years to complete.

One of the busiest hospitals in the Central Valley, Kaweah Delta’s emergency department was originally designed to accommodate treatment for 72,000 patients per year. The department, however, takes in approximately 90,000 a year.

“We actually hit 93,000 in 2015, and that’s what really spurred on the acceleration of this project because our fear is that number was just going to keep getting higher and higher as this community grows,” said Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst. “And Kaweah Delta is really a regional health care system, so it’s not just supporting the citizens in Visalia.”

The heightened count of patients has prompted the hospital to set up a tent to seat patients awaiting treatment. Their load has only grown with the temporary closure of Tulare Regional Medical Center. Kaweah Delta is also the only trauma center between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The expansion is expected to cost $32.8 million increase the number of available beds from 41 to 74. The waiting area capacity is expected to grow as well from 65 people to over 100.

One of the new additions to the hospital will be a “fast track” to provide care to those without life-threatening illnesses or injuries, freeing up equipment for critical patients.

“We are basically the safety nets for the communities, and when primary health care providers are full and their offices’ urgent care centers are overflowing, the emergency department becomes that primary access point,” said Dan Allain, assistant chief nursing officer, critical care administration for Kaweah Delta. “So they really do not need the intense ED [with] all the services, and the services, the monitors and everything there—those are for the sickest and the most unstable.”

Phase 1, which started Monday, will see the temporary closure of the Mineral King entrance to the hospital.

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