Page 1




Groundbreaking Ceremony

will be Thursday, March 28, at 11 a.m. Details on page 2


Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section — Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Tehachapi News

The long, long road to a new hospital

On the Cover






Hospital Construction Committee members and City Engineer Jay Schlosser met at the construction site on March 14 to review progress as preliminary earthmoving had begun. From left are Schlosser, Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District Director Dr. Kim Horowitz, Project Manager Stacy Pray, Board President Sam Conklin and Director Dr. Gary Olsen.

Groundbreaking Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 28 The entire community of Tehachapi is invited to attend the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Tehachapi Hospital at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 28. The groundbreaking will take place at the site of the new hospital on Magellan Way in the Capital Hills area north of Highway 58 at Mill Street (north of the post office). Festivities will feature the Tehachapi Warrior Band playing the National Anthem, a helicopter fly-in by Mercy Air, ambulance support by Hall Ambulance, and support from Benz Sanitation,

There is a saying that newspapers write the first draft of history, so to provide a chronology of what it has taken to get to the point of breaking ground on a new Tehachapi Hospital on March 28, 2013, we reviewed previous issues of the Tehachapi News. The hospital replaces the current hospital on West "F" Street that was completed in 1956. That hospital was built after the previous hospital — in a building originally used as a rooming house in the 1800s — was destroyed by the devastating Tehachapi Earthquake of July 1952. There are many reasons that the community supported building a new hospital, among them that the 1956 facility no longer meets earthquake building standards. And space here does not allow us to go all the way back to the first thought that people had about the need for a new facility, but we'll start with a story written by the late Bill Mead, former publisher of the Tehachapi News, who wrote a column in the Dec. 12, 2007, edition of the News with the headline: "Meeting scheduled to review hospital progress." Oh, if he had only known how many times that headline could have been re-used! According to Mead's article, "start of construction on the new hospital must await transfer of the proposed site from Broome Ranch to the district and state approvals of construction plans. The proposed hospital site is adjacent to the Capital Hills development just north of Tehachapi Post Office." Of course, we should note that although this is the same site where construction is currently underway, it is not the same hospital plan. In fact, shortly after that story

was published, much of the effort that it took to get the hospital to that point in December 2007 — more than three years after the community approved a $15 million bond issue — was of little value because by mid-2008 the hospital board severed its ties with the original architect (litigation is still pending) and embarked on a course that resulted in a new plan and in November 2009 a new bond issue before voters — asking for an additional $50 million to build the hospital.

Broome family donation The Capital Hills commercial area north of Highway 58 near the Mill Street exit was originally part of the Loop Ranch owned by the Broome family. In a story published on Jan. 1, 2008, it was noted that the Broome Family Trust had signed a gift deed tranferring 22.36 acres of land to the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District. “This is a bell ringer for things to come,” said Alan Burgess, TVHD CEO. The district board met in a special open session on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007, to approve a resolution to accept the deed for the donated land. The resolution was read by Board President Dr. Sam Conklin, followed by a motion to approve made by Board Member William Steele and seconded by Dr. Susan Hall. The motion was then approved by a unanimous vote with one absence as Dr. Gary Olsen was out of town and unable to attend the emergency meeting. At that point, of course, the district had only the $15 million bond approved in 2004, and it must have already been clear that the hospital would cost more than that as Burgess noted that “Funding is still going to be an issue, not impossible, but a big challenge”. The district paid $888 to cover See HICKS/Page 3

Tehachapi News Tuesday, March 26, 2013 — Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section



An artist’s rendition of the exterior of the new Tehachapi Hospital now under construction and expected to be completed by the fall of 2016.

Hicks: ‘It could even be a start over type of thing’ Continued from page 2

title insurance, processing and filing, and the property closed escrow. The article noted that the “next step in the process is to get approval of the building plans from the Office of Statewide Hospital Planning and Development” which was expected early in 2008.

Enter John Hicks Tehachapi resident John Hicks also came on the scene around that time, agreeing to serve as Hospital Project Manager without pay, Burgess announced. “We are grateful to Mr. Hicks for his willingness to donate a great amount of time and

effort on behalf of our community as hospital project manager,” Burgess said. “His impressive technical education and background, along with his knowledge of what needs to be done to bring a new Tehachapi Hospital to reality, will be of enormous help to the district.” An engineering graduate of the California Institute of Technology, Hicks was retired from 33 years of service to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. He is an internationally-recognized aerospace engineer and administrator. Hicks later told a reporter that he did not vote for the 2004 bond issue because he didn’t


The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District Board of Directors sign the resolution to accept the deeded land for the new hospital donated by the Broome Family Trust in December 2008. Back row, from left: TVHD CEO Alan Burgess, Joe Demont, TVHD CFO. Seated, from left: William Steele, Dr. Kim Horowitz, Dr. Sam Conklin and Dr. Susan Hall.

Current Board of Directors Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District Sam Conklin, M.D., President Kim J. Horowitz, M.D. Gary D. Olson, M.D. Duane Moats Henry Schaeffer Previous board members (since 1998): Binne Callender, Barry E. Breen, Susan Hall, M.D., Terri L. Kahn, Patrick C. Lantz, Elizabeth M. Lask, Priscilla L. Mester and William J.B. Steele. believe $15 million could pay for a new hospital in Tehachapi. “I was skeptical,” Hicks said. “It was clear that there was no way they were going to be able to build a hospital for $15 million. I think people were misled in some ways.” Hicks dove into the project as a volunteer and soon let the board know that he didn’t think the modular design of the project awaiting approval in Sacramento would work. He noted that the new hospital’s modular construction plans may result in increased costs and more delays. See PUBLIC/Page 4


Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section — Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Tehachapi News

A brief history of emergency room coverage in Tehachapi Aspen Street Architects developed this design for the hospital and it was actually approved by the state in January 2008; however, the board at the time had concerns about the modular design and scrapped the plans, returning to the drawing board.

Public grows impatient Continued from page 3

“It could even be a start all over type of thing,” Hicks said. And it was. By the end of May 2008, the board severed its ties with Aspen Street Architects and embarked on a course to redesign the hospital.

New bond issue To say the public was disappointed would be an understatement. They were mad. Letters to the editor appeared with headlines like: “Stop the wasteful spending.” Having been asked to pass a $15 million bond issue and having waited nearly four years only to


hear that the project might have to start over sent many people over the top. Although Hicks ended his relationship with the district as Hospital project Manager in February 2008, he remained supportive of the need to move a different direction, writing in a letter to the editor on August 2009: By all professional estimates of the state, architects and contractors, we could never have built a new hospital of any size for $15 million either today or back in 2004. The voterapproved funds were not wasted, but have sat in the bank earning interest these last few years while See NEW DESIGN/Page 5


Tehachapi Mojave California City Tehachapi Hospital Tehachapi Hospital 115 West E Street Rehabilitation Center 105 West E Street 2041 Belshaw Street 9350 North Loop Blvd PO Box 1900 116 West F Street Tehachapi, CA 93561 Mojave, CA 93501 California City, CA 93505 661.823.3000 661.824.4511 760.373.1785 Tehachapi, CA 93581 Tehachapi, CA 93561 661.823.0235 - Fax 661.824.2773 - Fax 760.373.1786 - Fax 661.823.3000 661.823.3070 661.823.3079 - Fax 661.823.3090 - Fax

Dr. Sam Conklin was elected to the Board of Directors of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District in November 2004, eight months after voters approved the first $15 million bond issue. He was among board members voting in 2008 to scrap the plans approved by the previous board and move in a new direction. In July 2008 he wrote the following article, providing an overview of emergency medical service in Tehachapi: BY SAM CONKLIN, M.D.

In 1969 Dr. Vincent Troy was the only physician practicing in Tehachapi. He provided 24 hour coverage for the emergency room plus working full time in his office. That meant leaving home, or office, or getting out of bed anytime day or night and driving to the hospital for every emergency that presented at the hospital. That was a Herculean effort by anyone’s measure. At the time he told me he had not left Tehachapi in the previous five years. In 1969 I had an office in Mojave. Dr. Troy asked me to join him in his office. We agreed to alternate weeks covering the emergency room calls, which would lessen his load in covering the Tehachapi emergency room, and I could still be of service to residents in Mojave. Shortly after that Dr. Bryan Hiebert, a surgeon who had returned from Viet Nam and was working at California Correction Institution, joined the group and we were able to spread the coverage of the emergency room for each physi-

Dr. Sam Conklin

cian to one week out of three. Our group took care of emergencies at no cost to the Tehachapi Hospital. Our reimbursement was what patients or their insurance could pay and like all emergency service there were many who needed medical help at a time when they could not afford to pay. The patient load in the emergency room continued to increase to the point that our group of three physicians could no longer cover the emergency room and still keep up with our heavy office patient load. So in the early 80s the hospital was impelled to hire physicians to cover the emergency at night from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. Our group of three continued to provide daytime coverage in the emergency room. During the 80s other physicians were attracted to Tehachapi and were pressed into the rotation covering the emergency room calls for the ever increasing number of emergencies coming into our hospital. In the early 90s the hospital took the next step and hired physicians to cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tehachapi News Tuesday, March 26, 2013 — Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section

New design, higher costs as voters asked to approve second bond measure in 2009 Continued from page 4

the current TVHD found a viable design that would satisfy the state and meet the 2013 deadline. A new design has recently been completed that will be lower risk in meeting cost estimates/schedules and of more conventional construction. It will be better able to meet state seismic requirements while delivering additional new services such as operating rooms, maternity and delivery, intensive care, direct emergency helicopter, etc. In late August of 2008, the board hired a new manager for the construction project, Golden Hills resident Norm Clendenin. He remained in that role through 2011. Through that period the board went back to the voters for a $50 million bond issue, hired a new architect and developed a new design that was submitted to OSHPD, the state agency that must approve hospital designs. Tehachapi News reporting through the early part of 2010 is sketchy, but as we have pieced it together, Clendenin was in favor of another location. He was not alone. A number of people expressed concern to the board and publicly that the location had issues and that a location more centrally located to the population center of the Greater Tehachapi Area would be better.

Oversight committee In October 2009, just days before the second bond election, the board picked seven local residents to oversee usage of the proposed $50 million bond.

Selected residents were local architect Kevin Haub, former district board member Priscilla Mester, certified public accountant Duane Moats, retired Tehachapi High School Principal George Novinger, nurse consultant Carla Pitman, retired attorney Jerry Palmer and retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Jerry Wolf. The members of the committee have changed since it was established — and the committee did not meet at all during


We are proud to congratulate and be a part of the Tehachapi Valley Health Care District in bringing the dream of a new Tehachapi Hospital to reality!

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the litigation (more below), but Novinger is now the chairperson and members are Chris Podratz, Susan Staabs, Bill Steele, Jerry Palmer, Kevin Haub and Richard Burdine. The work of the committee will begin in earnest when the district begins to sell the bonds to fund the construction, which was recently approved by the board. See BOARD/Page 6

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Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section — Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Tehachapi News

Board committed to Capital Hills location Continued from page 5

Commitment In November 2010, a contentious election found eight in the running for three board seats and much discussion about whether Capital Hills was the right location for the hospital. When the dust had settled, the three incumbents — all local physicians — had been reelected. Dr. Susan Hall, Dr. Kim Horowitz and Dr. Gary Olson remained on the board along with Conklin and Bill Steele. More public meetings — and plenty of angry letters to the editor in 2010 and throughout 2011 — during and after the election showed that the community was growing impatient. Soon after the election the board took action to confirm its choice of Capital Hills as the building site — subject to the environmental review that was needed. And that, of course, opened another chapter.

The lawsuit At a number of the public meetings concerning the hospital, Tehachapi resident William Nelson challenged the board on its actions, particularly when in the fall of 2011 the board adopted what is called a "Mitigated

CONGRATULATIONS, and we are proud to be a part of such an important milestone for the Tehachapi Community.


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Negative Declaration" of environmental impact in connection with the hospital construction project. Basically, that means that the board believed that any environmental impacts had been identified and could be mitigated without the need for a more extensive — and expensive — full TEHACHAPI NEWS FILE PHOTO BY ED GORDON TVHD Project Manager John Hicks points out a utility connection location to CEO Alan Burgess Environmental and independent architectural consultant Nick Nowicki in February 2008 as the hospital district Impact Report that began to move forward with plans for the hospital after scuttling an earlier project. would further delay the project. The Writ of Mandate, filed Nov. 18, 2011, In November 2011, a group calling itself the contended that the board's approval of the “Tehachapi Area Critical Land Use Issues new hospital resulted in several violations of Group” filed a petition for Write of Mandate with Kern County Superior Court. CEQA in the areas of Inadequate Project A groundbreaking for the hospital that had Description, Fair Argument Standard, Aviation been planned for December of that year was Safety Impacts, Land Use Compatibility delayed and the district spent the next ten Impacts, Geotechnical Impacts, Traffic months in litigation. Impacts, Growth-Inducing Impacts, GreenA Writ of Mandate is a court order to a govhouse Gas Emissions, Emergency Response ernment agency, such as the Healthcare DisImpacts, Water Supply Impacts, Aesthetic trict, to follow the law by correcting its prior Impacts, and Noise Impacts. actions or cease illegal acts. After hearing arguments from both sides, In a press release delivered to the Tehachapi Twisselman said he was going to adopt and News on Nov. 21, 2011, Nelson, who was iden- confirm on record, his tentative decision from tified in the court documents as a “founding earlier in the day that the petition for Writ of member” of the group, was quoted as saying: Mandate be denied. “Understandably, the public with its hopes “We're very pleased with the judge's deciconditioned by the district, will be disappoint- sion,” said hospital attorney Scott Nave. ed by this turn of events. The stakes are so “Judge Twisselman put a lot of thought, high, and the district’s conduct has been so time, and effort into his ruling.” cynical and brazen, we were left with no other Nave said that at all times the hospital has choice” [than to file suit]. done its best, to in good faith fully comply Nelson and Jo Anne Huckins, who have both with the law in moving this project along. previously been critical of the board’s actions “We are pleased we can proceed now,” he related to the hospital project, both spoke added. “And look forward to providing the during the public comments questioning the community with a beautiful new hospital openness of the process involved in the manfacility.” agement of the project. Earlier in the proceedings, Twisselman disHuckins was once a president of the cussed his tentative decision — before hearing Tehachapi Hospital Foundation who helped arguments from the attorneys. He told a raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, but packed downtown Bakersfield courtroom that appeared to withdraw her support following he was inclined to deny the petition filed the board's commitment to the Capital Hills against the Board of Directors of the site. Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District by the Win for district Tehachapi Critical Landuse Issues Group. The litigation delayed, but did not stop, the Twissleman also stated that the rules reguhospital construction project. lating the environment must not be subverted In September 2012 the lawsuit was tossed to an instrument for suppression and delay of aside by Honorable Kenneth C. Twisselman II. See JUDGE/Page 7

Tehachapi News Tuesday, March 26, 2013 — Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section


The Daughters of the American Revolution, a charitable organization, is having a


on Saturday May 11th at Alpine Medical (20211 Valley Blvd.)

The proceeds will go to help our Veterans and support project literacy in Tehachapi to help our students. Any unsold items are given to Help and Hope to help our local needy.

HOW YOU CAN HELP 1. Donate items ( tax deductible) for our yard sale, (i.e. furniture, clothing, jewelry, books, electronics, household items, etc.) in fact anything of value. Call Jean at 301-1268 anytime. We can store the items. Tax deductible monetary donations are also appreciated.


A sign for Measure A, a $50 million bond to help construct a new hospital which passed on Nov. 3, 2009, is shown on the site for the hospital in Capital Hills. It was the second bond issue passed by local voters; the first was for $15 million in March 2004.

Judge ruled in favor of district, but litigation was financial set-back and delayed project Continued from page 6

social or economic recreational development and advancement. “CEQA requires a good faith effort and full disclose, it does not mandate perfection,” he added, “Nor does it require an analysis to be exhaustive.” He also went on to say, that the absence of information in an EIR, does not per se constitute a prejudicial abuse of discretion. He concluded by saying, that the court finds no substantial evidence in the record supporting argument that this project may have a substantial impact on the environment, nor does does the court find substantial evidence the agency's analysis of the project has potential environmental impact.” “I've never been happier with a court decision,” Burgess said.

“The judge really put a lot of time and effort in to it. He was just eloquent and he backed everything up with case law. It was very logical, rational and thought through. It has really rallied the community behind the hospital in a way nothing else could have. All people want to know is when we're going to build the hospital — we need a hospital; when are we going to have it, when are you going to break ground? Thats the number one question I get. The community needs it.” Although the litigation stalled the project, Burgess said there has been some progress this year. “We haven't let the grass grow while this has been going,” he said. “We've done an awful lot in the last year. Cassette radiography, in the radiology department brings that up to standard See BOARD/Page 8

2. Shop at our sale on Saturday May 11th from 8:00am to noon at 20211 Valley Blvd. Mark your calendar.

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Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking Commemorative Section — Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Tehachapi News

Gas station owner wants Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors to share in excitement Adil Saleen, owner of the Sunnyview Gas Spot — known by most as the Texaco station on Capital Hills Parkway next to Danny’s — is really exicited about the new hospital under construction nearby. He’s so excited, in fact, that on the day of the groundbreaking he plans to sell gas at less than his wholesale cost — and he’ll be giving away 16 ounce coffees from 6 a.m. to noon that day and 16-ounce fountain sodas from noon to midnight.

The special is good only on the day of the groundbreaking, Thursday, March 28. Workers on the hospital construction project will likely find Sunnyview a convenient stop while they’re working — and by the end of the year they’ll also be able to get Subway sandwiches there, as Saleen plans to open a new Subway outlet at the location. Sunnyview Gas Spot is located at 1050 Capitol Hills Parkway.

Board changes with resignation, election Continued from page 7

and did the same thing with the hospital information system electronic health records that’s all going to go with us (when the new hospital is built). “We did a lot of work on this building (current hospital) to bring it up to code as much as we can so that when we move into the new hospital that it will be an easier job to just do a few things in here to change the flow so that we can actually begin to re-outfit this for out-patient care,” he added.

Hall resigns During the months that the district was waiting for a decision on the lawsuit, there was another change in the makeup of the board. Dr. Susan Hall submitted her resignation from the Tehachapi Healthcare District Board of Directors at its May 16, 2012, meeting.

In presenting her resignation Dr. Hall said, “As you are aware, I have taken on significant duties as a physician on the medical staff of the hospital. As a result I am doing more acute patient care. Therefore I have decided to resign from the Board of Directors. “I am first, and foremost, a physician in this hospital and the community. I ran for the Board of Directors to help get the new hospital built. As soon as this CEQA situation is resolved I believe everything will move forward rapidly. We have a great construction team lined up who are professionals and will get the job done. Hall’s reference to the California Environmental Quality Act is related to litigation filed against the district by an organization called Tehachapi Area Critical Land Use Group.

The litigation challenges the adequacy of environmental review for the proposed construction of a new hospital. “Also, while serving on the board, some internal issues at the district came up,” Hall said. “There were some difficult decisions made, but I feel strongly the staff of the hospital we have now are the best to take us forward no matter what happens. “Do not be concerned that my decision was in any way influenced by those who have slandered and lied about this board,” she said. In August 2012 local accountant Duane Moats was appointed to fill the vacancy on the board left by Hall's resignation.


As Realtors®, there are two areas in a community that are vital to the success of our industry. One is schools and the other is of course, Health Care. The impact of a new hospital for Tehachapi is one that will affect the real estate industry for many years to come. There are many people who have moved to Tehachapi to retire. Most of the time when they make that decision they are in good health and feel as though they can live forever. owever, as age begins to take its tool they have medical needs they may have never even considered. It s our understanding that the new hospital will offer more other needed services. These are the things that will benefit the retirees moving into Tehachapi, as well as retain our existing residents that will no longer need to relocate to be near specialized facilities and doctors. The addition of a maternity ward, when it can be opened, is also a plus. Many young people are coming of age where

incumbents Conklin and Steele facing a challenger — Henry L. Schaeffer. Schaefer had placed well, though he was unsuccessful, in the 2010 election and in early results it appeared that the incumbents had won again. But when all votes were counted and the election certified it was determined that Conklin and Schaeffer were elected — with Schaeffer garnering 135 votes more than longtime board member Steele.

2012 election

Current year

Just months after Twisselman's decision two seats on the board were up for regular election in November 2012, with

As 2013 began, the district board took further steps to prepare for hospital construction, including using eminent domain to take an

they can purchase homes. These families will be in need of labor and delivery. This is a service that has been absent from the area for many years. One of the first questions asked to us as Realtors is “Do you have a hospital?” Realtors hear comments quite often from people who need to sell their homes to be closer to doctors and hospitals, or who wish they could stay in town to have a baby. And last but not least, I really would like to have a nice hospital where I can take my children in case of an emergency. This new hospital will have a positive impact on residents of all ages and will be an asset to our community and a boost to the real estate industry. LINDA COSTELLOE-CLOUGH is President of the Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors.

easement across property owned by A.G. Touchstone, LLC, for the construction of a street to obtain access to the new hospital. Next was to give final approval of the transfer of 37-acre feet of water rights to the City of Tehachapi — a condition of receiving a building permit from the city. Both the easement and the water rights transfer were critical pieces of preparing the project for groundbreaking according to Project Manager Stacy Pray. And it began to award contracts, while still unsure about exactly where the remaining money to fund the hospital will be found.

The financial challenge Having gone to the voters twice, the district has been looking for other ways to finance the shortfall between available funding — the two bond issues and other money that has been raised or set aside for the hospital project — and the $87 million price tag. Burgess has said there have been offers of donations — and the district is looking for grants and loan possibilities. Meanwhile, construction is moving forward with an expectation that the hospital will be complete by fall of 2015.

Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking  
Tehachapi Hospital Groundbreaking  

Timeline news of the new Tehachapi Hospital, covering the beginning plans of this facility to the groundbreakind ceremony taking place on Ma...