It’s been hard to miss, but healthcare options in Tehachapi over the last three years have increased significantly. By the end of this year, residents will have at their fingertips the best care in the history of the Tehachapi Valley. Yes, it has been that type of transformation, a transformation that started with a leap of faith.
First, it was the approval of the bond measures to finance the construction of the new hospital. That building attracted a new partner a year ago in Adventist Health, which is actively working on opening the building after some inherited issues and code changes during construction.
Over the last three years healthcare providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Omni Family Health opened clinics in Tehachapi knowing that the level of hospital care was on the rise. In the process of expansion, those companies brought a new slate of options to an area that had been previously limited to local physicians.
Those local physicians did and continue to do an outstanding job. Recently one of those local physicians retired and his medical practice was purchased by Dignity Health, the fifth-largest health care system in the nation. The addition of local Dignity Health network doctors will greatly increase the options for care in Tehachapi.
Healthcare is one of our largest growing sectors. The California Employment Development Department suggests that employment in the industry will increase by 25 percent in our area in the next 10 years. That not only means more jobs to boost our economy, but also better care overall.
Those providers who entered our healthcare boom early are seeing the benefits. Kaiser Permanente has already renovated its clinic once and now offers walk-in lab testing, a service that previously required an appointment or a trip to Bakersfield. It can now be done locally at your convenience.
Omni Family Health’s Tehachapi success has led it to expand further into east Kern to provide services to residents who have gone without for far too long.
Then there is the presence of healthy competition, the driving force behind any successful sector. Adventist Health and Dignity Health have a tremendous presence in the San Joaquin Valley and now they both have put down roots in Tehachapi. We’re glad to have them both and look forward to the care they will provide.
In addition to physicians and clinics, new corporate partnerships with Walgreens and the Department of Veterans Affairs along with the recently-announced partnership with Walmart and Anthem means that prescriptions and certain over-the-counter healthcare purchases are covered and readily available. As we get older, these tools are an asset to our community.
While we may have to wait a short time for the entire investment to pay off, that initial leap of faith with the hospital bond has opened a new market that is providing never-before available options for local healthcare.
As we continue to pursue quality of life initiatives, I can’t think of anything more important than that.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager.