One short year ago, more than a thousand people cheered with excitement and anticipation as the ribbon was cut at the grand opening of the much-awaited, state-of-the-art Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital.
Nov. 7 will mark the anniversary of its opening.
"It's just thrilling to see the new hospital," Jane Weldon, president of the Guild of Tehachapi Hospital, said recently.
That sentiment was echoed by longtime resident Del Troy.
"Their help for us to be able to finish it and open is a big accomplishment as far as I’m concerned," Troy said. "They save lives."
So much has been accomplished.
In just one short year, general and orthopedic surgeries have been performed, and other healthcare goals have been achieved.
More than 120 surgeries, 64,000 inpatient and outpatient lab tests, 7,000 imaging tests and more than $800,000 in donations for new equipment have helped meet the needs of the community.
"It went from 12,000 people being seen in the ER (emergency room) annually to 70,000. So it's a significant growth," said AHTV President Jeff Lingerfelt. He added, “We are serving not only the Tehachapi area, but Mojave and California City.”
The hospital, with donations from the Guild of Tehachapi Hospital, can now evaluate residents who may have heart problems with a newly purchased echocardiogram machine.
If it were not for the echocardiogram machine, 24 patients would have had to go other places in a 52-day period, said Lingerfelt.
"We are continuing to evaluate continuing services. Cardiology is a part of that and how we can perhaps enhance the telemedicine network," Lingerfelt said.
The hospital has been upgraded to emergency status, some types of infusion therapy are offered and solar panels are coming to offset energy costs.
“What that shows us is that ambulance providers have a greater confidence in our ability to handle trauma situations, so we are seeing, I think about a 15 percent increase in ambulance traffic and a more complex patient who is present at the emergency department,” Lingerfelt said.
Future goals are on the horizon.
The hospital hopes to soon offer urgent echogradiogram readings and purchase a new 64-slice CT scanner and a 3-D mammogram machine. The solar project underway will offset 95 percent of the hospital's energy and is expected to begin next June, said Lingerfelt.
Adventist Health has so far contributed more than $44 million toward construction of the new hospital, making the building costs total more than $109 million.
In the last 14 years, the community committed to $65 million in bonds to build the hospital, with another $60 million in added interest, spearheaded by the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District.
“It is an amazing milestone. Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District is grateful that Adventist Health was able to complete the vision and mission for the community, and help people at the new hospital,” said Caroline Wasielewski, chief executive officer for the TVHD, in an email.