Planning for a new healthcare campus for Taft took another step forward with presentation from a prominent Bakersfield physician on the next steps to take.
Dr. Don Cornforth gave a brief overview to the West Side Health Care District Board Wednesday evening.
Cornforth is a friend of Bb Hampton, who co-founded the West Side Health Care Foundation along with Dr. Vibul Tang.
Both Hampton and Tang, along with other members of the foundation, attended the meeting along with former Taft Mayor Wayne Deats, a major donor to San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield.
Cornforth didn't just talk to the board about some of the steps to take in developing a new healthcare campus on the site of the old Westside Hospital, he said he's interested in participating, too.
His overview focussed on the problems Taft faces and the steps to overcome them, including medical providers like himself and others that would be interested in offering services here.
What infrastructure Taft has is fragmented, he said, and a healthcare campus would put those services, from diagnosis to treatment and ancillary services like pharmacy, together in one location.
Cornforth emphasized the importance of telemedicine, an idea that has been discussed before.
Through telemedicine, specialists can be brought in to help diagnose and treat patients by communicating x-rays, CAT scans, EKGs and other diagnostic tools through the internet.
It's already dramatically expanding access to specialists for rural communities in Kern County, Cornforth said.
He outlined what Taft has, and what it can realistically hope to get in the near future.
Currently Kaiser brings in a large medical van once a week to treat patients, and that provider is also interested in becoming more involved, Cornforth said.
“Kaiser patients don't just get sick once a week,” he told the board.
Cornforth said Quest is interested in coming in with radiology services.
Other services in addition to telemedicine, could also be added. Taft lacks full time obstetrics care, and even a nurse practitioner in that field would be a big improvement, he said. An expansion of pharmacy services, and even weekly visits to Taft by specialists in a variety of fields are also feasible with the right facilities.
He ended the presentation with an optimistic note on the financial side of building a new facility.
“I believe we can raise the money to build the building,” he said.
He also offered a course of action, starting with a feasibility study and following up with a plan to design the facility taking advantage of the old hospital property, establishing a budget and identifying funding sources and contacting all potential partners.
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