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Healthcare leaders Adventist Health and Kern Medical partner to create area’s premier medical network


Kern County’s healthcare poised for generational leap as leading providers join forces to recruit top talent, creating a “more healthy” region with better care, improved access and top specialists.

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (Nov. 16, 2021) –Two leading healthcare institutions in Kern County – a premier private hospital system and the designated safety-net public healthcare provider – have announced an unprecedented partnership, making them the focal point of healthcare expansion and surgical advancement in Kern County.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, Adventist Health Kern County, of West Coast-based Adventist Health, and Kern Medical, home of the county’s public system, will bring together their respective strengths to multiply the choices patients have for treatment and create across the county a sought-after, powerful network for patients and physicians.

Leaders from each organization say that they see immediate avenues to expand patient care, but even more, they share a vision to elevate healthcare in the region through what this partnership brings. The impact to Kern County residents will be positive – better care, improved access and the availability to more physicians, while keeping the ability to choose the physician and hospital they have always used.

“Too many people choose to travel out of Kern County to receive healthcare that they perceive is better than is available in Kern County,” said Russell Judd, CEO of Kern Medical. “The current system of care is fragmented and the divided environment of healthcare in Kern County needs to change. Adventist Health and Kern Medical are in a unique position to change the healthcare landscape in Kern County.”

The partnership, giving each health system the ability to tap the resources of the other, will create the largest healthcare coalition in Kern County, with more than 30 locations, over 4,500 healthcare professionals, and more than a 1,000 physicians and physicians-in-training.

Judd, who recently announced his year-end retirement, said the deal has been long in development, with incoming Kern Medical CEO Scott Thygerson serving as one of the key architects on the leadership teams working in close collaboration.

Daniel Wolcott, president of Adventist Health services in Kern County, said system leaders have always understood that this partnership is a strategic sharing and leveraging of resources, and not a merger, but nevertheless the two leadership teams have come to feel as one during the many months of planning and preparation.

“We all want to transform the health and well-being of Kern County,” said Wolcott. “The citizens of Kern County deserve the best healthcare possible, with a comprehensive healthcare system and seamless capacity to care for all levels of care inside our community. The partnership between Adventist Health Kern County and Kern Medical will bring this vision to life.”

The area’s medical professionals and political leaders have long expressed frustration with Kern County’s inability to attract and retain the number of physician specialists – from neuroscience, to urology, to gastrointestinal – that a population of nearly a million would typically support.

Thygerson, incoming Kern Medical CEO, said some people may wonder how a commercial-insurance-focused, faith-based health system such as Adventist Health and an academic, public-health system like Kern Medical can successfully collaborate.

“If you understand healthcare, you understand it is a perfect fit,” said Thygerson. “Each healthcare system draws on the strengths of the other, to really create a system that defines what we mean when we say, ‘comprehensive, high-quality care.’ It’s an exciting time, and a great future for Kern County.”

About Adventist Health Kern County

Adventist Health Kern County, with hospitals in Bakersfield, Delano and Tehachapi as well as the AIS Cancer Center, Quest Imaging and many other medical offices and services throughout the county, is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system. Adventist Health serves more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii in addition to others across the U.S. through its Blue Zones company, a pioneer in taking a systemic and environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities. Through this work, Adventist Health is leading a 21st century well-being transformation movement. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides care in hospitals, clinics, its innovative Adventist Health Hospital@Home program that provides virtual in-patient care at home, home care agencies, hospice agencies and joint-venture retirement centers in both rural and urban communities. Our compassionate and talented team of 37,000 includes associates, medical staff physicians, allied health professionals and volunteers driven in pursuit of one mission: living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. Together, we are transforming the American healthcare experience with an innovative, yet timeless, whole-person focus on physical, mental, spiritual and social healing to support community well-being.

About Kern Medical:

Kern Medical, an academic public hospital owned and operated by the Kern County Hospital Authority, is affiliated with UCLA and Ross University Schools of Medicine. Kern Medical’s operations includes a 222-licensed bed hospital, 10 outpatient clinics, the area’s only Level 2 Trauma Center, a Level 2 neonatology intensive care unit, and a medical group with nearly 200 providers. Its academic physician training programs include four ACGME residencies with over 115 residents, two fellowship programs, and provides over 200 medical student rotations.