Kern Valley Sun visits Kern Valley Hospital


Mark Gordon, Chief Nursing Officer at Kern Valley Healthcare District (KVHD), recently gave the Kern Valley Sun a hospital visit.

It’s called Healthcare District because it’s more than just a hospital. There is also a medical clinic and a pharmacy. Gordon pointed out the inpatient pharmacy as we walked from his office to the front, but also mentioned that there was a main pharmacy on the main street.

In the lobby is where COVID-19 testing takes place; there is no public access from the front. There is a staff coordinator at their COVID-19 testing site and an infection control nurse as well as another in training. KVHD currently has two transport vehicles. Health Systems gave KVHD a grant that purchased two vehicles and paid the drivers. KVHD pays for gas, insurance and maintenance.

Gordon plans to write another grant for “current health systems to buy us another vehicle that we can drive up and down the canyon to take residents to and from appointments there in Bakersfield, we don’t do that appointment visits here right now,” he said.

This is a free service offered by KVHD. They pick up patients from their homes and bring them to their physiotherapy appointments or to the clinic. They even offer patients a ride to “the other clinic we compete with,” Gordon said. They also pick up patients to take them to the pharmacy. For security reasons, only one person at a time is allowed in the van. One vehicle is wheelchair accessible.

Continuing the tour, Gordon highlighted the acute care area, emergency room, radiology and respiratory therapy departments. He demonstrated how they can sort in private. The emergency room is old, that’s why they are renovating it.

“Everything will be open,” Gordon said. “All these inner walls are collapsing. We will have an open base and a central nursing station here where you can see all the patients. Construction plans are currently under review.

The highly ranked Skilled Nursing (SNF) facility was in the yellow zone due to the COVID-19 outbreaks, so it was not included in the tour. SNF has 75 beds and approximately 46 are currently occupied. Many SNF patients are in hospice, while some are only there for 90 days of rehabilitation.

The staff created a healing garden just two months ago. They took donations and did all the work themselves to create a garden with sunflowers and 9-foot-tall tomato plants. They also have a Coca-Cola break room and a new staff salad vending machine.

The last thing Gordon showed off was KVHD’s latest technology – a stroke robot. The robot’s head moves and its eyes can zoom. Gordon said: “The cameras on these things are so intense and precise that they can actually look at the retinas in the back of your eyes.” Usually, the robot is installed at the foot of the bed so that the doctor can examine the patient through the robot. Then the nurses are the hands of the doctor and he guides them. Within five minutes of arriving, stroke patients can have a CT scan, the doctor can see the results and is on the phone speaking with the patient and staff to guide their assessment of that patient.

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