By Jim Misunas
LARNED — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a longtime advocate of rural hospitals, will deliver a keynote address at a 1 p.m. ground-breaking Sunday for Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in Larned.
The ground-breaking celebrates a two-year quest for Pawnee County owning and operating its own local hospital. The $18.3 million hospital will be constructed with funding from Medicare reimbursement, profit from Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, a 1 percent sales tax and an annual 6-mill county-wide healthcare levy.
PVCH, under the ownership of Pawnee County, will start construction on a replacement building for its critical access hospital. PVCH will maintain its operating capacity of 25 inpatient beds and its emergency care facilities while increasing its outpatient capacity, as well as its focus on long-term patient care. The event is open to the public and citizens are invited to attend.
Matt Heyn, Pawnee Valley administrator, has invested more than 20 hours a week in planning for PVCH.
“We had bumps and hurdles, but everyone worked together for a common goal,” Heyn said. “This will be a day of elation because Pawnee County is guaranteeing quality healthcare for years to come. It’s a day of celebration.”
Along the way, Pawnee County waged a successful legal battle to secure a critical care access license and determine its medical future in a partnership with HaysMed.
Heyn said his investment in planning required extra hours and time away from his hospital duties.
‘‘I believe I’m only as good as the people who surround me,” Heyn said. “I poured in extra time beyond a normal routine. But I give our hospital staff all the credit because they have kept the hospital running efficiently when I’ve been gone. It’s been a long, but rewarding 14 months for me.”
The city of Larned, Pawnee County, Pawnee County Attorney John Settle and HaysMed officials have worked together effectively.
“It’s a exciting time. We’ve had an exceptional team who have worked together and I feel fortunate and humbled to be a part of that,” said Pawnee County Commissioner John Haas. “It’s required a tremendous amount of study and due diligence. There were a lot of prayerful moments and we always took our time to make sure everything was done right. It’s almost unbelievable that Pawnee County could come out of this with our desires met.”
There were anxious moments along the way, but Haas believed the commitment to operate a local hospital was the primary motivating factor.
“The citizens of Pawnee County were committed to maintaining a hospital in Larned,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous support to turn Pawnee Valley Community Hospital into a profitable operation the past 14 months. We are confident the hospital will serve the needs of the community.”
Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka said once local officials realized a new hospital would be required, he said everyone has been on board.
“This is one of the first times the entire county has worked together for one purpose, to accomplish what they set out to do,” Pivonka said. “Critical care access hospitals in rural areas are very important. It’s really a significant accomplishment for Pawnee County. We’ve seen Pawnee Valley go from losing money to a profitable institution. The partnership with MaysMed has a lot to do with that.”
Pivonka said Pawnee Valley will be a state-of-the-art hospital that will take care of basic medical needs for Pawnee County and outlying areas.