It has been a long journey to get to this day. For me it started in 1987 when I first got involved with the Hospital District and the attempted building of a new $4.5 million hospital. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last 30 years. By the late 1990s it looked like we would never get a new hospital much less keep the old one open.
However, the community did keep the hospital open and then four doctors were elected to the Board of Directors over two years. Their goal was a new hospital. First they raised the $15 million bond. Then they learned that a new hospital was going to cost a lot more so they raised another $50 million bond. Then they got the new hospital designed and started construction.
That was when things got complicated as the costs of new hospital construction in California was rising faster than anyone could believe. By the time construction really got under way, the final bill was pushing $90 million. The CEO and CFO at the time were sure that they could find the extra money needed and the board pressed on with the construction. By fall 2013 the CEO and the CFO had moved on, another doctor had retired, a new CEO was starting and the opening on the board needed to be filled. I was asked to apply for the position and agreed.
The board selected me at the November meeting and my new term started. Two months later I was elected president of the board. We had some real issues to deal with at that time The hospital was not making any money, the credit that was supposed to be available to finish the new hospital didn't exist, and there was no way the community was going to pay for another bond.
After a few months of dealing with all of that that, the new CEO got a better offer and moved on. We did have a new CFO and our search for money to finish the new hospital continued. In October we had a meeting with Adventist Health in Bakersfield. They had interest in working with us but first we had to put out a request for proposals for a partner to finish and operate the new hospital.
Dignity and Adventist were the only applicants, with the Adventist proposal being the best choice. Their offer of $27 million of prepaid rent would finish the new hospital and they would lease and operate the hospital for the next 30 years. That had to be approved by the voters and Measure H answered the question with a "yes" vote.
By November 2016, the legal contract was finished and Adventist Health took over the operation of the current hospital and worked with us to complete the new hospital with some improvements they desired. Here we are at the beginning of November 2018 and the new hospital has opened.
I want to thank the members of our Healthcare District for their support and patience through this long journey. We now have a $100 million state-of-the-art modern hospital serving our valley in the mountains. We also have an excellent team operating the new hospital. We all have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Mike Nixon is president of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District.