Bakersfield physician and partner talk to West Side Health Care District. Sale talks with CHW called productive


A plan to open an acute care hospital on the Westside continues to move forward.

Two men heading a group that is negotiating the purchase of the old West Side District Hospital spoke to the West Side Health Care District Thursday night and asked the district to partner with them in a plan that they have to reopen a medical-surgical hospital in Taft.

“We are very excited,” said Noel Cabezzas, who is partnering with Dr. Carlos Alvarez, who currently operates Valley Medical Group in southwest Bakersfield. “We’ve made the first step. If we acquire the hospital we would like to restart the hospital.”

Cabezzas and Alvarez and real estate broker Laura Geiger are continuing to negotiate with Catholic Healthcare West, which owns the site.

Alvarez said an offer was made to CHW.

CHW responded with a counter offer, and Alvarez and Cabezzas accepted the counter offer.

They held a further discussion with CHW officials from San Francisco, which they described as very cordial and productive.

“It was a great conversation,” said Geiger. “We were able to answer and fulfill all of their questions. We are both working towards a common goal.”

The purchase price being discussed was not disclosed.

Alvarez and Cabezzas are formulating a plan to bring the old hospital facility on East North Street up to date as a modern, acute care hospital with a full range of specialists providing treatment, including inpatient surgery.

That is going to be expensive  -- $6 million to $7 million to purchase and recondition the buildings, Cabezzas said.

It’s also going to take time and it’s not an easy proposition.

“We are not going in blindly,” Alvarez said. “The place needs to be fixed”.

There are problems with lead and asbestos and other issues with the structures at the site, he said

But the plan is also feasible, Alvarez and Cabezzas said.

“It’s not a fantasy. It’s a reality,” Cabezzas said.

Alvarez said he is in contact with several specialists who have expressed an interest in working at a healthcare facility in Taft, including OB/GYN, orthopedics, surgery, and podiatry.

At a Thursday evening meeting to the health care board, Alvarez and Cabezzas described a goal of reestablishing an acute care medical surgical hospital in steps, leading to a facility with two surgical suites and inpatient treatment.

It was just a general presentation, and Cabezzas said they will return with a more concrete presentation to discuss working with the district to begin the process of reopening the hospital “to start to restore healthcare in the community.”

“We are very excited about partnering with the board and we want to be part of the solution to the healthcare problems of the community,” Cabezzas said.

They also discussed an emergency room, which could be problematic.

The plan to start with an urgent care with expanded hours and, as revenue allows, transition to an emergency room at some point in the future

Operating an emergency room is very expensive -- $5 million a year, Cabezzas said – and only a small portion of the cost, about 12 to 14 percent. is recovered.

“It’s not a revenue center,” Cabezzas said.

They are looking at alternatives to funding for an ER, possibly through grants, he said.

They are forming a nonprofit foundation, the West Kern Foundation for Healthcare, that they said will eventually own the buildings on the site, and they will own the business in conjunction with other physicians.