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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
contributing writer 

What do we need? Tehachapi healthcare district seeks public input for resource center


December 4, 2021

Tina Fisher Cunningham

The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District is looking for "a new vision for the community," the district's CEO Caroline Wasielewski told the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council (GTEDC) on Nov. 3.

The quest for a new vision offers the public the opportunity to be involved in shaping the community's healthcare resources.

Now that Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley operates and manages the new district-owned hospital, she said, "our task is to provide healthcare without running a hospital." The five-person board of directors is overseeing the transition to a new healthcare strategy.

The new vision will be built from the ground up, as the old hospital – opened in 1956 – disappeared under the wrecking ball, and the property on the 100 block of West E Street is a level lot. Only the dramatic Deodar cedars attest to the existence of two prior hospitals on the site.

The healthcare district board has voted to build a community resource center on the property, naming it in honor of Dr. Sam Conklin, who served the community for over 40 years as a doctor and as a board member. The center will provide a meeting place for community groups. Conklin had advocated for a fresh new center to serve the needs of the public.

By contract with Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, which operates and manages the new hospital on Magellan Drive, the healthcare district cannot compete with Adventist.

"It will be healthcare but not hospital related," Wasielewski said. "There will be a Zoom room where people can interact with doctors. It will be a place to help people who need something and don't know where to go.

"A big part is education," she said. "We are looking for ideas related to wellness and healthcare."

The district is conducting a needs assessment to find out what the community needs. Resources that may be provided include nutrition, cooking, early childhood development classes, autism education and resources, senior daycare, fitness and training.

The district will be partnering with the Senior Center and Mountain Pathways, she said.

The public is encouraged to submit ideas for the community center and to visit the district website ( to fill out the needs assessment survey. To bring ideas directly to the board, the next Community Outreach Committee meeting is Dec. 7 at 12 noon at the district headquarters, 116 West E Street. The next board meeting is Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. Please note the earlier meeting time.

In other GTEDC business

Winegrower Jim Arnold said that a new 10-acre vineyard in Brite Valley has added acreage to the Tehachapi Mountains American Viticultural Area.

"We're making progress," Arnold said.

Pat Doody reported that the Visitor Center is now open four days a week and that the Tourism Commission is refurbishing all handouts.

The Tehachapi Art Commission's plein air "paint out" in May was a success, drawing 38 nationally-recognized artists from around the country.

Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner's field rep Laura Lynn Wyatt said that several of the proposed redistricting plans would be detrimental to Tehachapi and the eastern half of Kern County. The plans would leave eastern Kern with one supervisor instead of the current two. She said it was important to get involved in the issue, as the supervisors were to vote on it on Nov. 8.

"This is a serious problem," Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett said.

"One representative for East Kern would leave us at a profound disadvantage," Christina Scrivner said.

Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley President David Butler said the imaging pavilion will open on Nov. 22.

He said there were 12 patients with Covid as of Nov. 1. Eleven were unvaccinated and one was vaccinated.

Adventist Director of Philanthropy Christina Scrivner bid farewell to that position, saying it was her "privilege and honor" to work with the patients and hospital.

Kern Economic Development Corporation Richard Chapman said STEM students need to be encouraged in Kern County. The KEDC has a talent retention program that links students to paid internships.

"If we want our kids to stay, we have to offer them opportunities," Chapman said.

Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District Manager Tom Neisler said the 2022 State Water Project is at zero percent allocation.

"We've never had zero percent before," Neisler said.

He said that state representative Vince Fong attended the pump plant tour.

California Correctional Institution Community Resource Manager Alexis Quiles said that police and fire department men grew their beards out to mark men's health awareness month. The Inmate Council is active in supporting two local Special Olympics athletes who were to compete at the World Games in Florida.


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