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Kaiser Begins Reopening Closed Clinics in Orange County, Starting With La Palma

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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(Orange County Register)

Kaiser Permanente is starting to re-open medical offices in Orange County that it shuttered in March, when the coronavirus pandemic was expected to swamp local hospitals.

The company said this week that it reopened its medical office in La Palma to staff, and is preparing to let patients back to other temporarily shuttered local clinics.

A few specialty departments at the La Palma clinic — ophthalmology, optometry, pediatrics, and podiatry — opened Monday, June 8, and family medicine opened Wednesday, said Kaiser spokesman John Stratman.

“La Palma staff are slowly returning back to work as we gradually reopen to full capacity,” Stratman said.

The health care provider, one of Orange County’s largest with about 600,000 members, is planning a soft opening of specialty departments at two more medical offices — Lakeview in Anaheim and San Juan Capistrano. Family medicine will resume at both facilities later next week.

Kaiser will continue to reset Orange County medical offices that were repurposed due to COVID-19 through July.

Asked why Kaiser has started to reopen medical offices amid the ongoing pandemic, Stratman said, “We are gradually re-opening facilities as appropriate in alignment with federal, state, and local health authority guidance.”

In March, Kaiser began closing clinics from La Habrato San Juan Capistrano to consolidate staff and equipment around hospitals while limiting coronavirus exposure between workers and patients.

Some Kaiser locations that weren’t closed, such as Euclid Medical Offices in Anaheim, absorbed staff from nearby clinics for routine care, such as vaccinations and wound treatment.

Others, such as Mission Viejo Medical Offices, were dedicated to process patients with respiratory symptoms — potential coronavirus cases. Doctors there would decide whether patients needed to be tested or hospitalized for COVID-19.

During the pandemic, health networks in Orange County pivoted to tele-health services, conducting initial doctor’s visits by phone rather than in person to direct sick people to the right places.

Stratman said Kaiser has followed guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control to screen patients before they walk into hospitals and medical offices by taking temperatures and asking questions to gauge possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Everyone who walks in gets a mask if they don’t already have one, he said.

Kaiser in March also launched drive-thru COVID-19 screening sites, first at its Anaheim Medical Center and later at its Irvine Medical Center.

The measures were taken ahead of an expected surge of coronavirus cases in April.

But while the tally of known cases grew every day that month — and continues to do so — coronavirus hospitalizations by late April hovered around 200, well below the county’s total number of hospital beds. At that time, however, not all Orange County hospitals were reporting known COVID-19 cases in their care to the county’s Health Care Agency on a daily basis.

As of June 11, there were 294 people in Orange County hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to county data.

Category: Healthcare, COVID-19, Member News

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