TEHACHAPI — Eager and joyful expressions were on the faces of more than a thousand Tehachapi residents who took tours Sunday afternoon of the soon-to-open, new Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley hospital.
Many people have waited years for the facility to become a reality.
“It’s the most exciting event happening in Tehachapi right now," said Judith Quijada, who has lived in the city for eight years. "It’s pretty bittersweet, since the town is growing."
She added it's nice to have a new hospital.
Many others echoed those comments.
“I’m thrilled to have a big hospital and I don’t have to go out of town to get medical service,” said Jesus Luna, who has lived in the city since 1956.
The new hospital, slated to open in November, is located on a 20-acre campus in the Capital Hills area, north of Highway 58 on Magellan Drive.
It will replace the current downtown facility, which was built in 1954. The groundbreaking for the new hospital was in 2013, although planning and various bond measures have been passed to fund the hospital since 2003.
“We are all very excited to show the community their hospital,” AHTV President Jeff Lingerfelt said. “We look forward to having state licensure that gives us the OK to open in early November.”
Staff members carefully guided residents through many areas of the hospital. This included the emergency department, intensive care unit, chapel, inpatient areas, cafeteria and outside spaces.
Residents carefully looked through the windows of offices, waiting rooms, ICU patient care rooms and saw equipment that will assist staff members in providing the best care possible. The two surgery rooms, gastrointestinal rooms and radiology were not available for tours.
Recent months have been devoted to correcting issues with doors and windows, performing electrical work, enlarging emergency room space, repairing flooring and more to bring the 79,000-square-foot building up to code to pass inspections.
The 25-bed critical access hospital comes equipped with 13 emergency department rooms, operating rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, four intensive care unit beds costing $30,000 each, gastrointestinal lab rooms, radiology, imaging, X-ray, ultrasound, CT and mammography services, a lab and cafe. The hospital construction cost to date has come to more than $102 million.
Adventist Health partnered with the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District under a long-term lease in completing the construction and bringing it up to code. In 2016, residents voted, with almost a 90 percent in favor, to allow the partnership.
“It’s an indefinite relationship,” said Mike Nixon, board president of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District. “I’m grateful that the people who have lived here, have continued to support this.”
The healthcare district is considering using the old hospital for a senior care facility or for childcare. The district is conducting planning meetings next month, Nixon said.