New pediatric wing, garden debut at Memorial Hospital


The halls are lined with photos from Dr. Seuss books and the walls are covered with colorful murals reflecting Kern County — visitors walking on the Kern River and wild animals roaming.

Outside, a soothing garden features plants in the shapes of animals, fountains, Christmas lights and flowers.

On Tuesday, community members celebrated the opening of the Bolthouse Family Pediatric Department and Helen Taylor Cobbs Children’s Healing Garden at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital’s Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center.

The new pediatric acute care unit expands the number of rooms from 20 to 35 and is staffed 24 hours a day by pediatricians and nurses who specialize in treating kids.

The garden, designed and built by Monji Enterprises, is “a whimsical place of respite for patients, family, visitors and staff,” according to hospital officials.

The project has been in the works for 2 1⁄2 years.

“The number of families and young children have grown, and so many had to seek medical services outside of Kern County,” said Georgina Bicknell, director of pediatric services. “We want to provide a facility that is comparable to all of the other organizations out in L.A. and in Northern California.”

Several families and corporations helped fund the hospital additions. Bill Bolthouse said his family contributed “because we wanted to support the community, and we knew it was a real need.”

The event began with a big thanks from the vice president of philanthropy, Sue Benham, and hospital President John Van Boening to the many families and individuals who contributed.

“It all comes together,” Van Boening said. “The whole community is involved, and that’s what makes me feel so good about it.”