Bakersfield Memorial Hospital CEO Ken Keller talks about how COVID-19 has impacted hospitals

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 2021 was another challenging year for Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and Lauren Small Children’s Center. Its staff treated far more children for COVID-19 than in 2020. But the fine staff at BMH and Lauren Small Children’s Center took care of business.

Now, there are plans for yet another major addition to the wide array of pediatric medical services at L.S.C.C.

17 News spoke with Ken Keller, President and CEO of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

Jim Scott: $12.5 million raised here in Kern County since 1991 to benefit Memorial Hospital and Lauren Small Children’s Center. What does that mean to you?

Keller: “That 12 and a half million represents the commitment, the support the giving nature of the people within Kern County that have helped us to establish the Lauren Small Children’s Center and to continue to grow it to what it is today.”

Jim: “Tell me how you spent the money that you raised last year during our Day of Giving.”

Keller: “As you know, we hit our major milestone and ended up generating significantly more funds than what we anticipated and we were very energized and very thrilled and very thankful for that. What we use the money for was purchasing additional equipment to take care of children primarily in the last year in our neonatal intensive care unit and in pediatrics in general. This year what we’re really kind of thinking about is respirators, and ventilators and having those other additional equipment to advance what we’re doing in our NICU.”

Jim: “So this is the second year you’ve had to deal with everything that the pandemic has brought with it. How has that impacted operations this year?”

Keller: “Well, the number of pediatric COVID admissions is actually tripled between last year and this year.”

Jim: “What’s on tap for 2022 here at Lauren small children’s center?”

Keller: “As you know, we’ve developed Lauren Small Children’s Center into basically, using words that you and I’ve talked about before, a pediatric hospital within a hospital. The one thing that’s going to be the capstone is the next phase, which we’re working on the planning of right now. And that is a plan for a dedicated pediatric operating rooms. So that’s to come in. We’ll have more information over the coming months.”

Jim: “This is a full blown success story, is it not? It’s nothing short of that.”

Keller: “It absolutely is. It’s growing the service in a way such that we are tailoring and putting it together again to meet the needs of the children here. Understanding that what we build today is going to be able to serve the next 2030 years. I come back to my original point and that is thank you to Bakersfield in Kern County for what you’ve done to support Bakersfield Memorial the Lawrence Mahler Children’s Center through CMN. It is a partnership that we know we’re going to continue to use the information use the resources, the tools that you give us to meet the needs of the children here in Kern County.”

Pledge line: 336-0500 or text KGET to 51555.

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