The Kern Valley Health District was formed on November 23, 1964. The district was organized for the purpose of building and operating a 24-bed (12 acute and 12 long-term) hospital. The District was comprised then, as today, of an area of approximately 400 square miles. The project of constructing and equipping the hospital was determined to be a General Obligation Bond Issue and application for State and Federal aid. Approval for the preparation of preliminary plans was received in March of 1965. Financed by the issuance of $490,000 of Hospital Construction Bonds plus State and Federal financial aid (Hill-Burton) totaling another $432,000 and taxes levied by the District, the hospital was constructed and commenced operation in May 1968.
During the first year and a half of operations, 1,000 patients were admitted and some 4,500 emergency cases cared for. The need for additional acute care beds became obvious so long-term beds were reclassified. With the licensure of three intensive care beds in April 1975, the hospital bed count increased to 27.
In 1976 the Emergency Room physician coverage was increased from a call-in basis to 24 hour physician-in-attendance, seven days per week. Certain ancillary services were added throughout the following years and in 1984 twelve beds were certified for long-term care on an as-needed basis under the California Swing-Bed Program.
On July 28, 1992 a 74-bed long-term care unit was opened. The new construction also included a surgery wing of 3 suites with pre-op and post-op areas, a Dietary Department that included a kitchen, serving area, and cafeteria, a laundry area, a classroom, and a helipad. Cost of the new construction was over $20,000,000 dollars.
On July 28, 1994 our retail pharmacy, Mesa Clinical Pharmacy, opened for business at 12608 Mt Mesa Rd. The first Rural Health Clinic was licensed by the Department of Health Services on March 6, 1996. The clinic was later relocated to Birch Street in February 2000.
On July 28, 1998 the Board of Directors adopted Resolution No. 98-1 to change the name of the facility to Kern Valley Healthcare District to better describe the overall services proved by the district. The new name became effective July 1, 1999.
The Kern Valley Healthcare District serves an approximate population of 25,000 residents and some 100,000 visitors on any given weekend, compared to 5,100 residents and an estimated 7,800 visitors in 1964.
Recognized as a small rural hospital, the Kern Valley Healthcare District serves with pride and is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of quality patient care.
The Kern River Valley has a thriving tourism and outdoor recreation industry centered around its lake, rivers, and mountains. Camping, hunting, and fishing are popular activities, as are white water rafting, boating, and other water sports. During wintertime, snow sports are possible in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and backpacking are possible year-round, and rental equipment and guide services are a crucial part of the local economy. Numerous hot springs, renowned by early settlers to the valley, can be found near the top of the Kern River Canyon. Much of the Kern River Valley, including the shore of Lake Isabella, is part of Sequoia National Forest, and there are several campgrounds around the lake and along the river. The southernmost groves of Giant sequoia trees are about thirty miles northwest of the valley.