Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

AHTV earns basic Emergency Department status, launches echocardiogram program

Think of any modern hospital in a big city. It's likely you'll picture radiologists checking X-rays, nurses caring for critical patients, scientists analyzing blood cultures or surgeons rushing to provide emergency operations.

Those are all the same images you can expect to see when visiting Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley. And now we have the license from the California Department of Public Health to prove it.

State health officials surveyed our hospital this month and upgraded our Emergency Department status from a standby location to one that provides basic emergency medical services. This may not sound exciting, but it's a huge step forward for our hospital and helps us elevate the care we provide to our community.

The new status – the same one that bigger hospitals in Bakersfield carry – means that we not only have a physician on duty 24 hours a day to provide care, but also a surgeon ready to perform emergency operations 24 hours a day. It also opens the doorway for our hospital to one day become a certified stroke or chest pain center.

When patients arrive at Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, they can be assured they will receive a higher level of care that we're constantly working toward enhancing.

Just this month, for example, we launched an exciting new echocardiogram program helping keep more of our patients close to home for care. This echocardiogram machine provides sonograms of the heart that can show heart size, function and chambers, and how strong the heart is beating. This information will help physicians determine the best course of treatment for their patients.

In the Tehachapi area – where heart disease claims more than 350 lives a year – such technology is critical. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the area we serve that spans from Tehachapi into the Mojave Desert. Our death rate here is about 18 percent higher than the county's rate, and more than 56 percent higher than the state's rate. This echocardiogram program will help us better serve patients experiencing cardiac distress.

We're grateful to the Guild of Tehachapi Hospital, which committed to donating more than $115,000 to purchase the echocardiogram machine to make this program possible. Members of this organization have shown again and again that they have a heart and vision for the health of this community, and we're proud to stand beside them as healthcare partners.

While we're thrilled to get great new equipment at the hospital, we know that's not what makes a hospital great. It's the people. I'm reminded of this so often when coming to work. I was touched especially this Independence Day by the kindness, love and compassion our caregivers showed toward our patients.

I had arrived at the hospital to begin pouring root beer floats for our staff, whom we invite to our parking lot each Fourth of July to watch the fireworks with their families, when our night house supervisor, George Roberts, came out the front doors with two of his patients. He looked around, found the best viewing spot for the fireworks and set them and their families up with chairs and blankets.

Those patients didn't want to miss seeing the fireworks with their families, and George wouldn't let them.

At Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, our mission is to live God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. It's a lofty mission, but I believe these simple gestures of kindness are God's love at work. I'm proud and blessed to serve in a hospital where we see that love in action so often.

Jeff Lingerfelt is the president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, which operates a hospital and rehabilitation center in Tehachapi, and outpatient primary care clinics in Tehachapi, Mojave and California City.