The wait is over.
With its state license in hand, the new Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital is slated to open Nov. 7.
Patients are asked to continue going to the old hospital that day, and signs will direct them when to go to the new location at 1100 Magellan Drive.
“Our staff are extremely excited about serving this community,” AHTV President Jeff Lingerfelt said. “The staff here have really bought into our mission, which is living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. We want people in the community to be healthy. If you are healthy, you are going to live a much more whole life.”
He added, “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and had significant highlights in my career, but I think this was the most proud moment because I know how hard everybody has worked and it’s a huge team effort.”
Residents have waited decades for this day.
Many services that have been difficult to provide or were not accessible in the area will now be available. The 25-bed critical access hospital comes equipped with 13 emergency department rooms, operating rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, four intensive care unit beds, gastrointestinal lab rooms, radiology, ultrasound, CT and mammography services, a lab and cafe.
Even though cardiology, orthopedics, cancer treatment and other specialties are not offered at the new hospital, the hospital is seeking to work with some physicians who could help provide such services for the community, added Lingerfelt.
Tehachapi News was invited to tour areas of the new hospital not seen by the community and learn about the latest technology for patient care.
A large nurses’ station manages 13 private patient rooms individually stocked with equipment and supplies. Oxygen and heart monitors are in each area.
The department comes with a two-bed trauma room equipped with high-quality surgical lights, crash carts, a countdown timer and other supplies ready at a moment’s notice, said Sue Lewis, director of emergency services for AHTV.
A negative pressure isolation room helps protect other patients from contamination if someone has a respiratory disease. It has its own filtered heating and air system, Lewis said.
There will be up to four registered nurses assisting patients, one physician on duty around the clock and one mid-level provider. The ER is fully equipped to assist with births, strokes, burns, injuries, respiratory illness and any other life-threatening issue. Other staff can be reached at a moment’s notice if additional help is needed, Lewis said.
The need is clear: Tehachapi residents made more than 8,000 emergency room visits in 2016, according to a recent AHTV Community Health Needs Assessment study.
Intensive care unit
The intensive care unit features four $30,000 beds, using state-of-the-art technology that automatically shifts the patient to eliminate bed sores, turns into a chair and uses other methods to help critically ill patients. The technology will also help prevent physical injury to staff.
Telemedicine will also assist in caring for patients.
“This is going to give us the ability to have multiple consultants log in and actually assess the patients at the bedside from a distance. This is going to be streamlined within minutes,” said Alida Lorenz, manager of acute care and education.
A nurse will help with the assessment, allowing a specialist within the AHTV network to listen to a patient’s organs and suggest treatment.
“It's the new-age technology from a distance. It allows us access to the network of other specialties that are not in Tehachapi,” Lorenz said.
Two operating rooms and gastrointestinal lab rooms will be a place where residents can have procedures. There are state-of-the-art, high-definition scopes, and equipment that assists doctors in viewing vessels and organs. Monitors help view procedures during surgery and Skytron lighting systems can be adjusted.
“The surgery and the endoscopy suites are both new services to our community and they won’t have to drive down the the hill to have these procedures, which they have been having to do forever,” said Karla Gonzales, a registered nurse certified in gastroenterology and operations.
Two general surgeons have been hired, with another two about to join the team. There are also general pre-operative and post anesthesia care unit rooms. Bloodless surgery is also offered.
“We are staffed with an excellent group of qualified professionals, surgeons and anesthesiologists,” said Betty Dewoody, director of perioperative services. More than 15 staff members will be in this department.
Funding for some new equipment in surgery has been made possible by donations of more than $840,000 in recent years from the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District Guild.
Said Jane Welden, vice president of the guild: “There’s been a lot of effort put into getting this hospital opened. A lot of generous people from the community and a lot of volunteer hours from the guild members."