Peggy Mendiburu is the new chief executive officer at Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District — and she wants to hear from residents as the district continues to chart a course into the future.
The new CEO is in a unique position. She previously worked for the district as an executive assistant when it operated the old Tehachapi Valley Hospital on E Street. Then she worked in the same role for Adventist Health, which leases the new Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital in Capital Hills.
Following the resignation of Caroline Wasielewski in November, the district recruited for a new CEO and Mendiburu was hired effective Feb. 6.
With just one other employee, Business Manager Lisa Hughes, the healthcare district is a pretty small operation. It is governed by a five-member elected board. Board members are President Mike Nixon, Vice President Bill Steele, Treasurer Duane Moats and Directors Lydia Chaney and Carl Gehricke.
Although the district no longer operates the hospital, its mission continues to be improving the quality of life and health of residents, Mendiburu said. To that end she hopes more district residents will respond to an online Community Health Needs Assessment available on the district's website, tvhd.org. Connecting with the Health Needs Assessment will be one of the options in the slideshow on the website.
In addition to gathering basic demographic information, the assessment asks participants to let the district know what resources or services may be lacking or insufficient in the community. It also asks about health education needs and a final important question — if you could change one thing that you believe would contribute to better health in our community, what would it be?
Individuals may also call Mendiburu or send an email to share their thoughts or suggestions for the district. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The district’s office is located at 116 W. E St., Tehachapi, and the phone number is 661-750-4848.
In addition to continuing to pay off bonds that were used to help pay for the hospital’s construction, the district manages property it owns in downtown Tehachapi and is considering construction of a new community resource center on the E Street property where the old hospital stood until its demolition in late 2021.
But Mendiburu said that future plans will depend greatly on community input.
In addition to the ongoing community needs assessment, the district looks for opportunities to partner with other organizations to advance health locally.
At its meeting on Feb. 21, the board approved a community garden partnership with Tehachapi Humanitarian Relief Group that will allow that group to create a new community garden on district property downtown, Mendiburu said. The district will provide water for the garden on property just to the north of the former hospital.
Mendiburu added that the humanitarian relief group is in need of additional volunteers and support. It hopes to have the new garden operational no later than the fall. More information about the group is available online at tehachapihumanitarianrelief.org or by email: email@example.com.
The district has also partnered with Houchin Community Blood Bank, the city of Tehachapi and Tehachapi Vineyard Church for blood drives, Mendiburu said. The next drive is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22 at the church, 502 E. Pinon St. Reserve a time to donate by signing up on the HCBB website at bit.ly/3KHd1wm.
Another upcoming community activity which the healthcare district will help sponsor includes National Night August on Aug. 1. Mendiburu said the event will return to Philip Marx Central Park this year.
And the district will work with Rotary of Tehachapi to assist its youth group Interact with a mental health day proposed for May.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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