As California experiences an unprecedented and exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, Kaweah Delta Medical Center and Sierra View Medical Center have joined together to share how they would triage, limit or ration care in the event the continuing pandemic worsens to the point that becomes necessary.

The plans were posted on the hospital websites on Jan. 6 as mandated by the California Department of Public Health.

While it is our responsibility as a healthcare facility to plan for these types of scenarios, the hope is that we never have to use them,” said Gary Herbst, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Delta, the the only level III trauma center between Bakersfield and Fresno. “Our goal, no matter the circumstance, will always be to save as many lives as possible, in a coordinated and compassionate way, regardless of race, disability, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation or immigration status.”

Kaweah Delta’s policy can be found here https://www.kaweahdelta.org/Latest-News/2021/January/Crisis-Care-Continuum-Guidelines.aspx It was created in April and adopted by the Board of Directors in May. It,s consistent with existing recommendations for how to provide care when resources are scarce during a public health emergency, Kaweah Delta stated.

“As this pandemic continues, we will remain in daily contact with the state, our public health department, and other hospitals in Tulare County,” Herbst said. “Together, our goal is that in a declared state of emergency, we would be able to provide healthcare in a way that is coordinated and compassionate.”

In response to the current surge, Sierra View is utilizing the California State SARS-CoV-2 Crisis Care Guidelines which lays out the essential framework to help best protect the health of the community, Sierra View stated.

“Crisis care is not a separate triage plan but rather a part of the care continuum,” Siera View stated. “It is an extension of the hospital’s surge-capacity plan, which addresses the ability to manage a sudden influx of patients, and its surge capability – the ability to manage patients requiring very specialized medical care.

The CDPH guidelines don't replace the judgment of Sierra View’s operational management, medical directors, legal advisors, or clinical staff, or consideration of other relevant variables and options, Sierra View stated. “The purpose of California State SARS-CoV-2 Crisis Care Guidelines are to provide information to support Sierra View operations,” Sierra View stated.

Sierra View’s COVID Crisis Care policy and guidelines can be found on its link in which it provides updates on the coronavirus at https://www.sierra-view.com/covid-19-resources/

Sierra View Chief Nurse Executive Dr. Jeffery Hudson-Covolo said the worst of the post-holiday surge could still be to come.

We stand in solidarity with our fellow Tulare County hospitals as we face the current unprecedented COVID-19 surge in our hospitals and with the expected holiday surge that is yet to come,” Hudson-Covolo said. “We are in frequent communication with the Tulare County Public Health Department leadership, as well as the Bakersfield CDPH Field Director. Should we need to advance to crisis care, we will work together jointly to provide care to our best abilities using the framework guidelines provided by the State of California.”

Information on state SARS-COV-2 crisis care guidelines can be found here: https://www.sierra-view.com/documents/covid-19/California-SARS-CoV-2-Crisis-Care-Guidelines-June-8-2020-rs.pdf

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