Health · Visalia/Tulare

Kaweah Health eyes its ticket to better doctor recruitment: housing

Kaweah Health is looking to build student housing near its hospital in Visalia.

The Visalia-based hospital district has requested $3.5 million from the California Legislature in the state budget to allow the health care provider the ability to acquire and renovate a Visalia hotel.

The renovated hotel would be dedicated as housing for visiting medical students, physician residents and other medical learners at Kaweah Health Medical Center.

As noted in a letter sent from the Visalia City Council to the state requesting that the funds be approved, Kaweah Health is the largest healthcare provider in Tulare County and currently trains 130 physician residents.

The hospital needs student housing to ensure that the highest quality residents seek out Kaweah Health. 

Currently, universities including the University of Southern California and UC Davis have partnered with Kaweah Health to rotate students in during their third and fourth years of medical school. 

“The hope is that these medical students will then apply to the Kaweah Health residency programs,” the letter reads. 

“To increase this likelihood, and to provide these visiting students with a safe and enjoyable experience, Kaweah Health is seeking to develop dedicated housing for these students.” 

With four-to-six week rotations, the city said that students currently struggle to find short-term rentals or are forced to stay in hotels during their time in Visalia, a problem that has only become worse with the hot real estate market.

The new housing would provide private bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as common spaces for the students to study, eat, exercise and do laundry. 

“The development of this residential facility for visiting medical students would be a major benefit to Kaweah Health, helping them attract high quality medical students. It would also be a huge benefit to the students themselves, who would have a safe and convenient place to stay,” the letter reads. 

“And finally, this project would greatly benefit our community – initially as a result of the financial impact to our downtown, but longer term in the form of additional physicians who enjoyed their time at Kaweah Health and in Visalia and decided to return here to practice medicine.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.