Health Care District celebrates start of work on new outpatient clinic

Fifteen years after Taft's acute care hospital was closed, the West Side Health Care District broke ground on a new $9 million outpatient clinic.

Friday's ceremony took place almost exactly where the entrance to the old Westside Hospital once stood.

The ceremony marks a new beginning and another step to rebuilding the community's health care infrastructure.

"This is a symbol of a new beginning for us," Health Care District Board President Eric Cooper said.

In the fifteen years since the hospital was closed in 2003 by Catholic Healthcare West, the district first opened a small urgent care clinic in an office suite, then moved to a larger building on the old hospital grounds that was too small from the beginning.

Now, its building a much larger outpatient clinic to better serve the needs of the community.

"Today we are taking our first steps," Cooper said. "This project has been a dream for a decade now for the West Side Health Care District.

The new 12,800 structure is scheduled to be completed in the late winter or early spring of 2019.

Two Kern County Supervisors paid tribute to the Health Care District at the groundbreaking.

Taft and the Westside have been moved from the Fourth District to the Second District.

David Couch, who has represented the area since 2013, and John Antonaros, chief of staff for Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, both attended.

Antanors presented a commmendation on behalf of Scrivner.

Couch said the new clinic reflects the "can-do" attitude of the community.

"You as a community do it yourself. You pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Couch said. "I'm very proud of Taft."

Taft Mayor Dave Noerr said the new clinic will be "an incredible asset for health care in Taft."

Assemblyman Vince Fong spoke at the groundbreaking and representatives of Congressman Kevin McCarthy and State Senator Jean Fuller also attended and presented commendations.

AQll five members of the Health Care Board – Cooper, Ginny Miller, Jan Ashley, Adele Ward and Darren Walrath – took part in the groundbreaking

The clinic is going to be funded with a $5 million federal loan, Health Care District money and a fundraising campaign by the West Side Health Care Foundation.