By Doug Keeler
Midway Driller Editor
The West Side Health Care Foundation met with the West Side Health Care District again last week and Supervisor David Couch as the two groups continue to plan for the rebuilding of the community's health care system.
A new medical complex could be coming in the near future, and the district might be considering hiring an administrator.
A medical complex, or health care campus, is an idea that everyone supported.
"We want to build a healthcare campus that we can grow and grow with the community," said Health Care Board member Teri Jordan.
Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler also suggested that in an email shared with the committee. The district has operated for more than a decade with no administrator, and Couch strongly suggested right away that the district considering hiring one.
"We're saving $150,000 per year," said Board President Chuck Hagstrom.
"The one thing you need is an administrator," Couch replied.
"Right," said Health Care Board member Sheri Black.
The two groups are planning a public meeting in the fall to update the community on the progress being made, and the foundation is planning to make its first major donation to the district.
But Thursday's meeting was about removing the last of the wreckage of the old West Side Hospital and laying the groundwork for the future.
Hagstrom said they are looking at demolishing the old hospital in the early spring of 2014.
The future planning has been delayed by the lengthy process of preparing the old hospital for demolition and opening a senior care facility in a building on the hospital grounds
The district made a major move this summer when it took over operation of the Westside Urgent Care.
The urgent care was the first major step the district took after Catholic Healthcare West closed West Side Hospital in 2003.
If the urgent care can support itself, then expanded hours and other medical services might be in the future.
"If we can sustain that, maybe we can sustain something bigger," said Jordan.
Foundation Chairman Bob Hampton brought Bakersfield physician Dr. Don Cornforth to the meeting.
Cornforth's suggestion of synergy – bring the current local medical providers together to increase patient offerings and make it more convenient--- meshed with an idea that the district and foundation have already been discussing – a health care campus.
"What synergies could we create?" Cornforth asked.
It is being planned to sit on the current hospital site once the old structure is demolished.
The board and foundation are considering a modular type complex, built to expand as more and more services are offered.
Page 2 of 2 - The current urgent care site, 3 times the size of the first urgent care center, is already too small, said Hagstrom, and a new urgent care will be part of any new complex.
Expanded hours for the urgent care, eventually one that will be open are another goal, but only as revenue will support it.
A contract with the city to provide medical services to inmates at the community correctional facility, could also help fund expanded urgent care hours.
He also suggested providing office space that could be used by different providers on different days to bring more services to Taft. That kind medical center could help in recruiting more doctors to Taft.
Dr. Vibul Tang, a member of the Health Care Foundation, said he has tried without success to recruit young physicians to practice in Taft.