Celebrating 150 Years
For 150 years Kern Medical has been at the heart of healthcare in Kern County.
Today as a leading Central Valley health care organization, Kern Medical offers a general acute care hospital and trauma center, comprehensive primary care and specialty clinics, and highly skilled doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers.
The story of this journey to a premier position in the region is a tale, much like the history of the County, of rapid growth.
We are proud of the progress we’ve made in medical research, education, patient safety and care. And as we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we will be honoring our service and those we have served by looking back – and in so doing we hope to make possible greater advancements in the future.
The Early Years: Establishing a Bakersfield Hospital
Since our founding in 1867 as a one-room adobe hut in Havilah (about an hour east of Bakersfield), Kern Medical has served as a cornerstone of the community.
In 1875, the first hospital building was established on G Street by William McFarland at a cost of $1,400 and doubled as a morgue. Henry S. Bachman served as the sole doctor for the community that numbered fewer than 1,000. Today, Bakersfield High School stands on the former G Street Hospital site.
In 1895, a new two-story hospital, known as Kern General, was constructed on six acres at 19th and Oak streets. It was equipped with 40 beds, staffed by five doctors and eight nurses, and was noted for its up-to-date surgery. The hospital served the county well for 30 years, but the growing health needs of the community necessitated the construction of a new facility.
In 1922, planning and construction began on that facility, located at Flower St. and Mt. Vernon Ave., where we remain today. The first 66 patients were transferred from the Oak street building to the new facility on September 27, 1925.
20th Century: A Tale of Rapid Growth
In 1934, a physician residency program debuted and quickly became an integral part of our mission.
The war years saw our operating budget surpass $1 million for the first time. About 500 employees worked at the hospital, and the patient count averaged just over 600 per day.
The 1952 earthquake destroyed portions of the hospital with the administration building hit hardest. Subsequent renovations expanded Kern General into a modern accredited facility, with the dedication of B and C wings on November 25, 1956.
By 1961, we saw an average of 900 patients per day, including 500 inpatients, 95 ER patients and 300 clinic patients.
In 1975, the hospital officially became known as Kern Medical Center.
In 1982, the D wing portion of the hospital was completed, and 10 years later, the hospital started construction on the Emergency Care Center.
21st Century: Setting the Stage for the Future
On November 15, 2001, Kern Medical Center was designated as a Level II Trauma Center. To date, we continue to provide the only advanced trauma care between Fresno and Los Angeles.
In 2016, we once again changed our name – this time to Kern Medical, to better represent our comprehensive model of care. We also expanded to the west side of Bakersfield with new Stockdale and Truxtun physician offices.
Also in 2016, Kern Medical transitioned from being owned and operated by the County of Kern to a Hospital Authority, enabling us to better serve our patients as a safety net provider, academic training center, and leader in trauma and specialty services.
In addition to caring for 10,000 inpatients and 125,000 clinic patients a year, we are the community’s only academic teaching hospital with over 200 medical students, physician residents, and fellows undergoing training in eight residency and fellowship programs.
Most importantly, we remain committed to serving the people of our community. Our care, while sophisticated, comes with compassion, respect and kindness in a community of diverse needs.
Here’s to another 150 years.
Kern Medical. Health for Life.
Yesterday, today and in the future, we remain committed to serving the people of our community. We invite you to take an in-depth look each month at some of the providers, patients and health advancements that make up Kern Medical.
March 2017: #LibbyStrong
In April of 2016, Libby Otten was thrown from a Jeep, which rolled over her, crushing her legs and shattering her pelvis. She was airlifted to Kern Medical’s Trauma Center where orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrea Snow implanted steel rods in her legs. Complications came later when internal bleeding forced Dr. Gomez, chief of orthopedic surgery at Kern Medical, to abort Libby’s second surgery on her pelvis. A typical survival rate for cases like this is 50 percent. But the Kern Medical team was determined – they repaired blood vessels, put a ring of steel in the pelvis and started Libby on her path to recovery. Meanwhile, the entire Bakersfield community came to rally for Libby, with #LibbyStrong t-shirts and viral Facebook posts. Libby thanks her recovery to the full team at Kern Medical, their compassion and expertise, her family and everyone who gave words of encouragement. Knowing that she had to learn to walk again, Libby graduated high school in June, walking across the stage with only crutches. After a summer of rehab and recovery, Libby is now a freshman at California Baptist University in Riverside, studying to become a speech pathologist.
Read the full story >>
Kern Medical Facts
As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we will be honoring our service and those we have served by looking back – and in so doing we hope to make possible greater advancements in the future. We invite you to journey along with us as we unveil 150 Facts about the history of Kern Medical.
- In 1867, Kern Medical was established as a one-room adobe hut in Havilah (about an hour east of Bakersfield). The cost was $200, or $3,484 in today’s dollars. This was only one year after the county of Kern was officially established.
- Kern Medical offers the only advanced trauma care between Fresno and Los Angeles. This eliminates the need to fly critically injured patients to a distant trauma center.
- Kern Medical cares for more than 200,000 patients every year. There are also more than 200,000 emergency department visits per year in the U.S. for food allergies.
- In 1934, Kern Medical (then, Kern County General Hospital) established a physician residency program. Thousands of physicians have gone on to serve the Kern County community, California and our nation.
- Did you know that the average cost per X-ray at Kern Medical in 1939 was $2.80? Today, an x-ray could cost as much as $350 depending on your insurance.
- In 1992, Kern Medical delivered 5,985 babies, or about 3% of the city’s population that year.
- From 1875 to 1895, Kern Medical was located downtown on G Street where Bakersfield High School now stands. During that time, the population of Kern County was roughly 3,000. Today, Bakersfield High has almost 3,000 students.
- Kern Medical started publishing its own magazine, Health for Life, in the fall of 2016.
- In 1894, construction began on the corner of 19th and Oak Streets for what was known as Kern County General Hospital. It was a two-story building with 40 beds. As the population of Kern County was growing, it was crucial to be able to treat more patients every day.
- Between 1928 and 1968, Stony Brook Sanitarium served as Kern County’s only tuberculosis treatment center, where more than 200 people were treated for TB in a given year. Hans Einstein, the sanitarium’s assistant medical director in the 1950s, completed his residency at Kern Medical (then, Kern General Hospital).
- In 1952, Kern Medical (then, Kern General Hospital) was accredited by the Joint Commission, only one year after the Commission’s founding. The accreditation makes a strong statement to the community about our efforts to provide the highest quality of care and patient safety.
- The earthquake of 1952 shattered 75% of the hospital. The A wing and the Family Practice building were the only structures to remain intact. Today, you can find our Chemotherapy, Eye and Orthopedic Clinics in the A wing.
- On April 6, 1937,singer and songwriter Merle Haggard was born at Kern General Hospital. This was also the year the Kern County Health Department was established. Merle passed away on his 79th birthday on April 6, 2016.
- There were 3,427 babies born at Kern Medical (then, Kern Medical Center) in 1987. Since then, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has increased by more than 4 years.
- On July 7, 1991, Kern Medical (then, Kern Medical Center) received a $700,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to be used to hire additional staff, upgrade technology and broaden training for residents. The grant also benefited the growing number of AIDS patients.
- In 1981, Kern Medical (then, Kern Medical Center) was recognized by California Children Services for its superior infant care. Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was also recognized for its high level of service. Today, we care for about 50-60 newborns in our NICU every month.
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