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Jeff Lingerfelt: Rest assured, we are prepared for this pandemic

Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley


April 11, 2020


I want to take an opportunity to address some of the questions and concerns we've heard in the community about how we are preparing for a potential surge of patients locally.

But first, I want to thank our community for the outpouring of love, support and kindness we've seen these past few weeks.

We've received many donations, nice notes of gratitude, encouraging drawings from children thanking our team and even pictures of sidewalk art that families are creating at home to spread hope, and not germs.

Just recently, a group of community members came to the hospital with signs of support and flashed them in our windows. [see story on pg. 11]

We can feel our community's love, and our team appreciates the support.

I also want to publicly thank all our nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, imaging techs, lab workers, environmental services professionals, plant operations team members and everyone else working at our hospital and clinics to ensure that our community is safe.

At Adventist Health, safety is our top priority.

We have been working with federal, state and local public health experts to ensure we're aligning to best practices to keep our team members and our patients safe.

Because we are part of Adventist Health, we have access to supplies and equipment not only from our local supply lines and our partners at Kern County EMS, but also from across our multi-state system, including ventilators, masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment.

It also provides us access to a pool of nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians and other healthcare professionals to care for our community if the need arises.

We have been hearing questions about the state of preparedness of our hospital.

Rest assured, our hospital leaders have been working tirelessly for weeks to develop a comprehensive plan if we experience a surge of patients in Tehachapi.

I want to go through some of your questions one-by-one.

We've heard concerns about the number of beds and ventilators at our hospital.

While it is true that we are a small critical access hospital, there are exceptions made for us during national emergencies allowing us to go well beyond our normal capacity. This hospital was designed to be flexible in how we respond to emergencies like this one. We have planned, for example, the conversion of pre and post-op surgery units into areas where critical care can be delivered.

With our preparedness plans, we have the capacity for many more beds, and we have the support from our system to staff those additional patient care areas with the healthcare providers, ventilators and other equipment and supplies to care for our community.

We've heard questions about whether we are transferring patients with COVID-19 away from our community hospital.

I want you to know that we are prepared to care for those patients, and have the appropriate rooms necessary to keep our patients and caregivers safe.

Some of you may have seen our tent outside the hospital. This is another precaution we're taking to screen those with respiratory illnesses, and helps us limit the exposure of potential COVID-19 patients.

We are prepared.

But know this – although we are prepared, we pray that we don't have to initiate these plans. We pray that we don't see a surge in patients. There's one way we can ensure that: stay home. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands often.

We invite all our friends and neighbors in Tehachapi to pray for our community during this time, to pray for our healthcare providers on the frontline of this pandemic and to pray for all of those providing essential services in our hometown.

We've seen our community come together to do incredible things. Let's come together now to beat Coronavirus.

–Jeff Lingerfelt is the president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley.


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