Kaweah Health left short-staffed due to COVID-related leave


VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Kaweah Health says they have had over 200 employees out due to COVID-related leave, which has left them short-staffed.

The hospital says that while they have yet to see the impact of the Omicron variant on its hospitalization rates, they are unable to properly staff the hospital.

“Omicron is highly contagious and highly transmissible and it’s disabling workforces, not just ours, but everyone we rely on,” said Keri Noeske, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Kaweah Health in a news release. “We’re asking everyone – our community and our staff – to be careful out there. Please exercise good practices – wear masks, get fully vaccinated, wash your hands, stay six feet apart from others. Anything we can do to prevent the spread in the community will help valley hospitals with staffing.”

In less than two weeks, the number of COVID-related leaves among employees has more than doubled, from 33 to 201, according to the hospital.

Kaweah Health says it is at 104% hospital occupancy with 40 COVID-19 positive patients, including two pediatric patients; four of those COVID-19 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit.

Kaweah Health says other Central Valley hospitals are also experiencing similar staffing issues. This has left many of them worried that if the local COVID-19 positivity percentages catch up with the state’s positivity percentage of 21%, hospitalizations will increase and hospitals won’t have the staff to meet the demand.

“Our health system has never stopped being impacted since the pandemic started,” Noeske said in the release. “We still have plenty of patients here that need us to take care of them and this rapid increase of positive cases among our staff is troublesome.”

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