By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Two years after Senator Jerry Moran attended a groundbreaking ceremony, he was welcomed back to Pawnee Valley Community Hospital Friday.
Pawnee Valley Community Hospital will conduct an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Moran has provided leadership on the issue of rural healthcare and the importance of locally-run hospitals. He was escorted on a world-class tour of the hospital by Matt Heyn, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital administrator. It marked Moran’s first visit since the groundbreaking ceremony more than two years ago.
Hein said the hospital has progressed from 12 employees and $600,000 in gross revenue in a month to 115 employees and a maximum of $3.2 million in monthly revenue.
“I’m obviously pleased by the progress you’ve made,” Moran said. “Everyone should be pleased by what you’ve accomplished.”
Moran said there is no issue more critical to quality of life than healthcare in rural Kansas.
“Young families are not going to live where there is not healthcare nearby,” Moran said. “My own family would’ve had to make a decision regarding our parents if they not had local healthcare.”
Pawnee County built the $18.3 million Pawnee Valley Community Hospital after a five-year quest for local citizens to operate a local hospital and retain the hospital’s valuable critical care license.
On March 1, 2010, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital embarked on an ambitious path for local healthcare.
Larned Mayor Pivonka said securing the critical care access license for PVCH was crucial. Through the efforts of Pawnee County Attorney John Settle and Steve Six, Kansas attorney general, PVCH eventually achieved its goal of maintaining the critical care access license with the hospital.
After court hearings and mediation, $500,000 was paid from Pawnee County and the city of Larned to return ownership of the hospital facility to Pawnee County.
“A small hospital cannot be profitable without a critical care license,” Pivonka said. “Pawnee Valley Community Hospital will be a great asset now and into the future.”
The Pawnee Valley commissioners and Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka started the celebration more than two years ago with a groundbreaking ceremony.
Kathy Bowman, Pawnee County commissioner, recalled how Pawnee County relied on State Senator Janis Lee and State Senator Jerry Moran, current U.S. Senator, for support and advice.
“We accomplished it because everyone joined the cause,” she said. “It shows what a community can do when it binds together.”
HaysMed, Inc., Hays, stepped forward to form a partnership with Pawnee Valley Community Hospital. Hays Medical Center employees John Jeter, Bryce Young, Bill Overby and Dale Montgomery worked with Pawnee County civic leaders.
“HaysMed was the one hospital that helped us,” she said. “They’ve been invaluable to us.”
Bowman said the turning point was when Pawnee County citizens chose to support PVCH by choosing to get medical services locally.
Pivonka said HaysMed officials were supportive from the first time PVCH officials sought advice.
“They asked, ‘How can we help?’ Pivonka said. “They provided guidance and were a source of inspiration. Our partnership with HaysMed has been a key for profitability.”
St. Joseph Memorial Hospital closed Sept. 30, 2009. But Pawnee County voters had already established their intent for a locally run hospital by approving a 1 percent health care sales tax in August 2009.