Jeff Lingerfelt

Jeff Lingerfelt is the president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.

When I reflect on the health of our community, in many ways, I’m proud.

This community has done something few others would — it committed to building and opening a state-of-the-art hospital in a rural town, helping to increase health access for all for generations to come.

But I also know that there’s much work to be done.

Our community continues to outpace the county death rate for many conditions, including heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease and liver disease. Our death rate for diabetes is 14 percentage points higher than the state average.

In many cases, these conditions can be managed or avoided entirely by leading a healthy lifestyle, including a proper diet, exercise and regular wellness checks with a primary care physician.

It’s not enough that our community has built a hospital to care for us when we’re sick — we need to take the proactive steps to keep ourselves healthy. That’s why I’m proud that this Saturday, Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley is hosting our third annual Community Health Fair & Senior Resource Day.

This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to come out to your community hospital, get a free flu shot and health screening, and have a clinician go over your numbers with you. If you need to have a follow-up visit, we can schedule it on-site at one of our medical offices. We’ll have surgeons there to discuss the services they’re providing, including colonoscopies and other GI procedures, and total joint replacement.

Our partners at the American Heart Association and those in our echocardiology department will be educating the community on the signs of a stroke and heart health. The Kern County Public Health Department will provide hands-only CPR demonstrations so that you have the tools you need to save a life if someone is in cardiac distress.

We’ll also be offering smoking cessation education. We know smoking is a major contributing factor to heart disease and respiratory diseases that disproportionately affect our community, and we want to do all we can to curb those chronic conditions.

We’ll host a kids zone, offer healthy meals out of our Mountain Café, provide a food bank giveaway with the partnership of Community Action Partnership of Kern, and showcase a menagerie of resources for seniors.

At Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, we don’t want to just care for folks when they get sick — we want to keep you all well enough so you never develop a chronic condition. A big part of that involves outreach events like this, where we can offer fast, effective screenings and provide information about how you can lead a healthier life.

Together, we know we can build a healthier community, and that it starts with each one of us. We hope to see you out at the fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday.

Jeff Lingerfelt is the president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.