It’s true: our hospitals are advancing so quickly that it’s almost hard to keep up! That’s why it’s so important for us to meet with our local hospitals each year and discuss what’s changed over the past year and what’s ahead. With upgrades, new facilities, expanded programs, and more experts to serve our community, local residents have more reason than ever to be assured that their health is in some of the best hands in the industry right here at home.
Ken Keller, vice president and chief operating officer of administration for Memorial Hospital, said that there are four areas where they will be focusing on, primarily, for the next 18-24 months. “Our first area is our pediatric capabilities,” he began. “We will be opening a new unit that has thirty-five pediatric beds between December 15 to January 16.” They are constructing with children’s needs in mind and are building a children’s healing garden, as well. This endeavor includes expanding their emergency department so that it includes the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for emergency care. This special ER will have a separate entrance for the children, as well.
Their heart and stroke services are also being honed in on, and they are focusing on heart and vascular care that is available to the community. They’re in the process of great expansion and upgrades to the existing interventional cardiology lab areas and upgrades to the electrophysiology lab. Memorial is also investing in improving their existing building so that it is up-to-date cosmetically and technologically. “The focus of this specific project is around bringing in new space and promoting a healing environment for our patients that is also user-friendly for visitors.”
Lastly, they are continuing to extend the capabilities of their surgery, labor and delivery, and emergency areas.
Kern Medical Center
Things just keep getting better at Kern Medical Center. “We had the responsibility to achieve big things when the new management team was hired,” stated Scott Thygerson, chief strategy officer for KMC. “We had to bring in financial stability while transitioning from a county to a freestanding hospital. Both are going well. The switch will make us more nimble and effective in a post Affordable Care Act world.”
The hospital has also been doing far better financially, with an over $20 million turnaround. They have also acquired several new physicians who will bring their expertise in endocrinology, pulmonology, rheumatism, and ophthalmology to the community. These specialists will be able to bring a new level of care to patients with ailments ranging from diabetes to lung cancer.
A remodel of certain areas has been maintained, and there are now private rooms for maternity patients; waiting areas in the ICU, surgery, labor and delivery, and radiology departments; and they even had a very exciting announcement. “We are launching the first neurological ICU in all of Kern County,” Thygerson concluded. “This is phenomenal as we are the only trauma center serving the area.” Off campus, they’re also opening a new site on Stockdale Highway for additional physicians offices.
Bakersfield Heart Hospital
Laura Sabedra, manager of marketing and public relations at Bakersfield Heart Hospital, had some exciting information to share. “Almost the entire executive team is new and they have made a shift from several directors to ‘working managers’ who work side-by-side with their staff,” she began.
“There is a great sense of camaraderie with this new leadership team in place and we have seen results in our patient satisfaction scores,” Michelle Oxford, CEO, added.
Their Cardiac Rehabilitation program is new to the facility, meaning that their patients can be seen in the hospital and then return there for education and exercise designed to help them recover.
Located across from BHH is their brand new Brain and Spine Center. “[We] utilize minimally-invasive, multidisciplinary methods to effectively treat simple and complicated brain and spine disorders. The exceptional skill of our surgical team, a higher level of staffing by registered nurses combined with quality medical care all contribute to our positive patient experiences,” Sabedra detailed. BHH is also teaming up with Central Cardiology cardiovascular surgeons to bring clinical trials like the LIFE and TOTAL studies to Kern County. “Bringing the most advanced medical technologies to our community directly supports our mission to provide outstanding patient care,” said Brij Bhambi, MD, BHH chief medical officer and Central Cardiology chief of staff.
San Joaquin Community Hospital
San Joaquin Community Hospital is as innovative as ever. “We found out at the beginning of the year that we received the distinguished hospital award from Healthgrades that put us in the top percent, nationwide, for things like quality and patient safety,” said Jimmy Phillips, director of marketing and communications for the hospital. “So Bakersfield has a hospital that ranks in the top five percent nationwide. This was a very proud moment for us.”
Something else that undoubtedly made the hospital proud was the fact that they opened the new Quest Imaging location, which is directly across from the AIS Cancer Center. Being a full service diagnostic imaging radiology center downtown, the facility also features MRI, ultrasound, specialized screening and procedures for cancer patients, and 3D mammography. “This is the first place of its kind in Bakersfield,” Phillips said. “This gives us a complete campus.”
SJCH also debuted a new Adventist Health Physicians Network, integrated more specialists with their hospital, and also added an additional 10 beds to their emergency room. Expansion is in their sights, as Tehachapi is seeking out a system partner for their new hospital that is currently being built, and they selected Adventist Health. “That could be a sister campus,” Phillips relayed, “but it will all be solidified in 2016 for sure.”
Mercy and Mercy Southwest
Walter Ray, director of business development at Mercy and Mercy Southwest hospitals, said that both Mercy campuses have seen some changes. “This year, we have opened a new twenty thousand square foot orthopedic outpatient clinic at Mercy Southwest. We also have put in a radiographic and floroscopy (R&F) room and will be beginning construction for one downtown, as well,” he asserted.
The partnership between Mercy and the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center has led to expansion in the infusion center space to better accommodate the increase in patient volume.
Additionally, they have also added all new digital equipment to the outpatient women’s imaging center on the Southwest campus. Ultrasound, mammography, and needle guided biopsy for early detection of breast cancer will be improved as a result of this.
In the next year, Ray stated that there will be no slowing down. “Two additional outpatient specialty clinics will be developed and opened as well as a new CT at Mercy Downtown,” Ray stated. “We will continue to grow our oncology services at Mercy and recruit additional physicians to our women and orthopedic programs, as well.”
HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital
There’s a lot of good on the horizon for Bakersfield’s only acute rehabilitation hospital but some of the best parts have stayed the same. “All acute rehabilitation hospitals are strictly regulated by Medicare and have guidelines that must be followed in order to maintain their hospital status,” said Genevieve Bronco, director of marketing and admissions. “At HealthSouth, each patient must be accepted and overseen by a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician. Our patients receive therapy three hours a day, five days a week by licensed therapists.” And Bronco detailed that expansion was in their sights and that they accomplished this goal in November of this year. They now have an additional 20 beds, which brings them up to a grand total of 86 beds.
Along with the fact that the new beds are in private rooms is the wonderful point that each room boasts state-of-the-art equipment. “In addition, two deluxe rooms have been created with bariatric patients in mind, including wider doors, larger restrooms, and built in patient lifts for employee safety,” Bronco elaborated.
With more hospital space comes more staff, and their talented team has grown in order to keep up with the demands of the hospital. Twenty new positions were added to the staff, providing more opportunities for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and registered nurses, amongst others.
Good Samaritan Hospitals
Both hospitals that fall under the Good Samaritan name have been abuzz with improvements lately. CEO Ganesh Acharya reported that their facility on Olive Drive has been striving to accommodate the public’s needs, and they’ve been succeeding. “We have done renovations to the interior and have made updates to make the facility more appealing,” he said. They have also increased their capabilities in their lab and radiology areas and have also brought on a new hospitalist group as well as a new general surgeon.
Their urgent care, a brand new facility, is open till midnight every day, and they’ve invested in new equipment. Their White Lane facility is also in full swing, continuing their expansion of services and bringing in more specialty programming to better serve their patients. “We are looking at starting a new partial hospital program for outpatient services,” Acharya said. “This will be just a step below being actual inpatient care.” They have also continued their quest to tailor child and adolescent services for residents in need and have been bringing on more therapists and other specialists for such care. Their chemical dependency programs have also been expanded, furthering their scope of unique care in Bakersfield.
So you see, this past year has been a great one for expansion. And all signs are pointing toward another banner year in 2016, as our local hospitals will work hard to make sure we’re getting the best of the best. When it comes to the health and well-being of Bakersfield and Kern County, we’re in good hands.