From left to right are community members Jan Roberts, Linda Flores, Linda Lovendahl and Scott Ostrem, who enjoyed a free Wellness class on Jan. 17. The participants built themselves a free salad jar at the healthy diet class.

Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley is seeing an increase in patients, offering new workshops and identifying ways to help the community become healthier now that the new hospital is open.

“Our whole aim is for people to live healthier, but to also drive down the cost of healthcare,” said Jeff Lingerfelt, president of AHTV. “We are trying to identify the areas that are most needed in the community. General surgery is number one and orthopedics is number two.”

There has been a 35 percent to 40 percent increase in the number of patients visiting the emergency room since the new hospital opened and the community is taking advantage of the location, rather than traveling to Bakersfield or Palmdale, said Lingerfelt.

A team of general surgeons is available weekly for consultations at the Adventist Health Medical Office in Tehachapi, located at 105 W. E St. Adventist Health plans to add specialists into that rotation soon, so more people can be treated locally.

Workshops and programs to help people become healthier are in the works, as local and nationwide organizations are teaming up and striving to help the community.

In January, workshops focused on goal setting, exercise, food education and freedom from smoking. These classes are part of Weeks of Wellness and are free to the public.

“I think it's a really exciting community initiative that we are doing,” said Harold Pierce, communications manager for AHTV. He added that when the community is healthy and when education is provided, people are more likely to successfully deal with health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Linda Baumgartner, a new city resident and participant in the Wellness Workshops, said, “My goal is to work on healthy eating habits. This class is a great reinforcement to eat great foods we enjoy that are grown here in California.”

Adventist Health and the American Lung Association will together host a special program to help tobacco users kick the habit.

Zoila Schrader-Medina, lead staff coordinator for the program at Adventist Health, said advertising should begin in February for interested community members to sign up.

“We have eight weeks of classes for the program. Each week is centered on an obstacle before the quit date and education they would need on diet, weight, or dealing with depression. We are giving them resources to help them achieve their quit date,” Schrader-Medina said.

To join this program, interested residents can send an email to schradz@ah.org.