BY Monica Lambert
This is the second in a series of interviews with candidates for the four open seats of the Kern Valley Healthcare District’s Board of Directors.
Michael Hess is a lifetime resident of the Kern River Valley. His grandfather settled in the KRV over 100 years ago. Michael grew up in Weldon, the youngest of eleven kids in the Hess/McDonald household.
As a teenager, he worked on the Kissack ranch. He admired Grace and Bill for all they did for the valley and faithfully honors the legacy created when they donated the land the hospital sits on. He feels it’s up to valley residents to preserve and support this gift, and keep the hospital viable for future generations.
“I have a strong background in construction, and as a licensed electrician I understand the challenges of this earthquake retrofit problem,” Hess told the Kern Valley Sun. “I am well-versed in problem-solving and can look at this retrofit from a different vantage point than the average person.”
He also worked as a planner for Southern California Edison and has the knowledge to help manage the retrofit.
Additionally, Hess owned an electric company where he worked with all levels of staff in the planning and execution of projects.
When asked about other issues the board is facing, he said, “Attracting and retaining excellent staff, improving working conditions and providing incentives are all necessary elements to helping our hospital become state of the art.”
Big on common sense and logic, Hess believes that all of these elements are intertwined. Meeting the compliance issues for retrofit will allow the hospital to stay in business.
Upgrading the 50-year-old facility will allow for more varied outpatient and inpatient services, which will in turn improve cash flow.
Attracting a qualified and excellent staff will persuade valley residents to choose the facility over going down to Bakersfield for medical services.
“It’s very dependent on all of these elements coming together,” he stated. “This is how our hospital will survive.”
If elected, Hess, who is retired, has the time to give full attention to the hospital board position.
“I’m a planner and a problem solver,” he said.
For full transparency, Hess’s wife, Deborah, is the manager of Public Affairs/ Marketing for the Kern Valley Hospital District.