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Thursday, May 15 2014 05:00 AM

Healthcare district eyes new services

While the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District is building a new hospital, it also has its eye set on rolling out increased services before its new facility in Capital Hills opens in 2016.

Evan Rayner, TVHD's interim chief executive officer, highlighted some of those services as a recent Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council breakfast.

"We want to beef up service before the new hospital opens," Rayner explained. "It takes months to ramp up new services, recruit the physicians, the nursing and other personnel, get them to the write folks and coordinate with state agencies."

TVHD's ambitions include reopening its surgical services and adding four more beds to the current 16 it has to handle "more acute cases or seniors that might be able to use some skilled nursing services."

The existing hospital has one operating room that is being renovated. TVHD is actively recruiting orthopedic and general surgeons and already has a neurologist and a pain management specialist on staff.

"We don't want to wait for the new hospital," Rayner said. "We want to actively start services for the community so they don't have to go down either side of the hill."

Another ambition is activating occupational health services, but Rayner estimated pre-employment physicals may be six months away.

Local dialysis services are -- expected to begin in July 2014, next door to Dr. Mark Pesche's office on Valley Boulevard.

"The folks that need to go to either Bakersfield or Antelope Valley for dialysis can now be serviced here locally," Rayner said. "We're kind of excited to see how that works."

New frontiers

Rayner explained that TVHD is exploring new frontiers, including telemedicine for remote consultation, adjusting or working on contracts it has for services, and aggressively pursuing cardiac care.

Telemedicine received a plug for its potential. With its partnership with Dignity Health Memorial Hospital for telemedicine stroke treatment, the district is working with Bakersfield Memorial and will utilize a hand-cart unit.

The unit has a high-definition lens the allows a doctor to remotely focus on any part of the body, has a privacy phone for confidential conversations, an electronic stethoscope and a high-speed Internet connection to deliver data like video.

Hospital project continues

THVD's construction schedule for the Capital Hills hospital project has been reshuffled a little due some small challenges with some contractors.

Rayner said despite these snags, the goal remains the same: to be certified and open by the first quarter of 2016.

Rayner estimated the Capital Hills hospital project is about 35 percent complete.

The 70,000 square-foot facility will be rated to withstand an earthquake of at least 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale from the inside out.

"While the building can shake, some of the critical systems, like IT systems, have to shake with it," Rayner said.

The requirements are issued by California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

With the new hospital scheduled to open its doors in 2016, questions linger over how the current facility will be used.

According to Rayner, TVHD is limited in what it can do with the current facility. It may look at using it for some clinical, outpatient therapy and rehabilitation operations.

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