Delta surge prompts state to require vaccinations for healthcare workers and hospital visitors; not everyone is pleased

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Here we go again: Covid-19’s delta variant is sinking its claws into Kern County, just as it’s doing around the world. Local hospitals are seeing an upswing of Covid patients and they’ve implemented some changes to deal with it — changes that even involve hospital visitors.

Starting Wednesday, by order of the state, hospital visitors must show their vaccination card or proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test in order to see a patient. Both Dignity Health and Adventist Health, Kern County’s two largest healthcare providers, also say they are limiting the number of visitors to just one per patient, with some exceptions, effective immediately.

Terri Church, chief nursing officer at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, said visitors will need to show evidence of a negative test within three days prior.

“So you can imagine how difficult that’s going to be,” she said during a roundtable discussion held to brief local media on the issue Wednesday. “So today we’re starting that and we will be asking for vaccination cards or proof that they’re actually negative for Covid.”

Healthcare workers are subject to the same decree. They must be fully vaccinated by September 30th or, again, test negative for the virus twice a week.

That order doesn’t sit well with everyone. About a dozen lab techs protested during their lunch hours outside Memorial on Wednesday.

Trang Tran, who has been a CT-scan technician at Memorial for 25 years, was one of them

“We believe that we have rights just like the patient has rights,” she said. “The patient has a right to refuse any kind of procedure or any testing that you do, and we as human beings, we have the right to choose what’s being done to our bodies.”

The changes come as local hospitals are seeing an influx of Covid-19 patients in recent weeks, dominated by the virus’s Delta strain. Memorial currently has 30 hospitalized Covid patients and the two Mercy hospitals have a total of 46, a significant increase from a month ago, when the numbers were in the single digits. Adventist Health, meanwhile, reports 73 Covid patients currently at its three Kern County hospitals. 

The good news is, local hospitals have seen this before and they have a pretty good idea of what to expect. The bad news is, local hospitals have seen this before — and they’re short staffed and tired. They’ll need to catch their breath, however, because this surge isn’t expected to peak until mid-October.

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