The Tehachapi Hospital is now Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.
As of Nov. 1, Adventist Health officially took over the operations of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District facilities with a big ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the old hospital. Adventist Health also will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the new hospital once it's complete, along with clinics in Mojave and California City.
“This is an amazing, wonderful day for Tehachapi,” Mayor Susan Wiggins said. “Our town will have a state-of-the-art hospital with the partnership of Adventist Health.”
It's been a long journey to this point. Over the past decades the TVHD had struggled to get a new hospital built, with many fits and starts, along with public bond measures. Groundbreaking finally took place for the new facility in March 2013.
More problems came to light and it was obvious the new hospital wouldn't have been completed without additional funding. The TVHD and Adventist Health worked together to develop a plan in which the two would partner, and Adventist would contribute some $25 million to complete the hospital. The public approved the partnership by a 90 percent “yes” vote in June.
It took until this past week to get all the paperwork completed for Adventist Health to take over what is now being called Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.
“This completes the circle for anyone wanting to move here,” said Councilman Ed Grimes. “We have good schools, a good police force, now we have a beautiful new hospital. Nothing but good things can come from this.”
Ida Perkins, president of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, said she receives calls all the time about healthcare related issues in the city.
“Now, I can say we have this state-of-the-art hospital and a partnership with Adventist Health, which also is a part of San Joaquin Hospital. We have older people looking to retire here but they want to make sure their healthcare needs are met," Perkins said. "We have it and I think it will bring in additional medical services.”
David Eastman, interim AHTV president, said the partnership gives the area a bright future.
“We finally made it,” he said. “It's clear people love this area and don't want to leave. This gives them a choice. This is a ribbon-cutting but it completes our ties with Tehachapi.”
Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett followed up on Eastman's statement about the “bright future” ahead. Garrett donned a pair of sunglasses.
“I think we hit the jackpot and the lottery all at once,” he said. “This is such an asset for everyone involved. It also was great that all the employees were asked to stay, and just about all of them did.”
Those who stayed showed off their new name badges with a new logo.
“With the new badges, it finally hit home we're not just a building,” said Jimmy Phillips, executive director of marketing. “It is so great that residents don't have to drive an hour for their medical issues. Lives can be saved with immediate help.”
Chief Nursing Officer Juliana Kirby was excited to have additional resources at her disposal.
“Wow, now we can deliver babies,” she said. “I've heard lots of stories of mothers who almost didn't make to the hospital. Expectant moms will love having the choice to come here.”
Adventist Health is a faith-based company, and describes itself as attending to both the health of the body and spirit. Kirby approves of that.
“We see a lot of death and dying, so it's nice to be able to bring that spirituality to our patients,” said Kirby, who as been with the health district for 18 years. “We've had so much support in the changeover.”
Sharlet Briggs, interim San Joaquin Community Hospital president and CEO, said this day was like a harvest.
“The seeds were planted years ago and they germinated,” she said. “It's time to reap the harvest. We run 20 hospitals, and 13 are in rural areas, and Tehachapi is right there in the middle. You put your trust in us, but it's your hospital. We're just grateful to be a part of it.”