Over the past 30 years, Tehachapi residents have waited for a new, state-of-the art hospital. They've waited as there was a lawsuit, bond measures, delays and construction repairs.
Now they're on the cusp of seeing the new Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital open.
But first, let's take a look back at the hospital's beginnings, with a glance through Tehachapi News stories from the past.
Original hospital location
The old emergency room at 115 W. E St. originally was a two-story building called the Capdeville Hotel. It was licensed for 15 beds, but was destroyed during the 1952 earthquake. The building that stands today was rebuilt and first admitted patients on April 8, 1957.
Local doctors Madge and Harold Schlotthauer operated the medical clinic and hospital until 1969. That year, the Tehachapi Valley Hospital District purchased the 28-bed facility, according to the book "The Long Road to Tehachapi" by Judy Barras.
All the main planning for the design, funding and location of the new hospital started to move forward in 2003. The Tehachapi Valley Hospital District sought resident approval for Measure J, a $15 million bond that voters passed on March 2, 2004.
The Greater Tehachapi area was attracting new residents, and more than just emergency services needed to be provided. Residents would travel to other areas for surgical procedures. The building at 115 W. E. St. was found not to meet state seismic standards and needed a new location by 2008.
Plans to address seismic issues were made when the board hired Aspen Street Architects to create a new modular one-story hospital design and submitted the plans to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development in March 2006; the plans were approved in January 2008. The architect plans amounted to $1 million.
The original design called for placing administration and conference rooms in a separate building to reduce costs, although the number of rooms was not mentioned. The size of patients rooms was reduced. Radiology and emergency rooms were to be built side-by-side. The hospital district also planned to build three medical buildings nearby.
The district board originally thought $16.5 million would be needed to pay for the hospital, meaning in 2006, it was estimated at $222 to $300 per square foot. This changed in 2007, when the district board estimated an additional $21 million was needed due to inflation.
Another bond, Measure A, was passed by district voters for $50 million on Nov. 3, 2009 to help finance the construction. That same year the district rejected the original design and hired another firm, SWA Architects, for new hospital plans. The new architect fee would cost the district $3.6 million.
The March 26, 2013 Tehachapi News reported that the first architecture plans from Aspen Street Architects could have resulted in construction delays and increased costs if the district went with the original design.
The hospital cost again increased at a proposed new price tag of $67 million for a 65,909-square-foot building in 2009, with the new architecture design plans through SWA Architects.
The healthcare district had 17 options for land, but money was needed to purchase acreage or pay for infrastructure in some cases.
In January 2008, 22.36 acres near the Capital Hills commercial area north of Highway 58 was donated to the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District by the Broome family. It was originally part of the Loop Ranch.
The district unanimously voted to accept the land, and it was annexed into city limits, providing access to sewer and water.
The Tehachapi Critical Landuse Issues Group questioned the district’s action to move forward with hospital construction without having a full environmental impact report.
The group filed a petition called a writ of mandate with the Kern County Superior Court on Nov. 18, 2011. A writ of mandate is a court order to a government agency requesting a correction to alleged prior actions or illegal acts.
The lawsuit challenged that the hospital construction violated several California Environmental Quality Act provisions by impacting traffic, having an inadequate project description, aviation safety issues, threatening water supply and more.
In September 2012, Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman II ruled in favor of the TVHD, allowing construction on the project to continue.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the hospital was held on March 28, 2013 and bids from various contractors were accepted from that point on.
The construction was then delayed for more than two years due to firing contractors and going through the process of finding others. The foundation and other things had to be rebuilt.
In order to finish the hospital and seek additional funding, the district placed Measure H before district voters on June 7, 2016, with 89 percent voting in favor to partner with Adventist Health to assume operations.
This is a lease agreement for 30 years, and Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley has the option to renew.
The $65 million bond measures have amounted to $125,273,204 in total debt. This equals the total principal and interest, which includes refinancing on some series of debt issuances, said Janelle Austin, division chief of special accounting for the Kern County Auditor Controller. Taxpayers of the healthcare district will be paying on some bonds until 2029, and others until 2043.