By Jim Misunas
LARNED — United States Senator Jerry Moran paid tribute to Pawnee County Sunday for achieving success on groundbreaking for the Pawnee Valley Community Hospital.
Moran said he appreciated that Larned and Pawnee County were insistent on determining their own future in maintaining a local hospital. They were not going to wait for a large corporation to determine whether Larned deserved a local hospital.
“The thought that Larned would be without a hospital was unbelievable,” Moran said. “The attitude of the people was the future was limitless and they showed the ability to step up as leaders and do the things they needed to do.”
Moran said the values that rural Kansans rely on are time honored.
“Most of us live here by choice and it’s a good place to raise our families,” he said. ‘There is always a belief that we can make a difference.”
Moran said viability in rural areas of Kansas is tied to medical care. He said people who rely on healthcare prefer to have that care nearby. They will move to places with the healthcare they need if they have to.
“Access to healthcare will determine the health of a city,” he said. “Without healthcare, older people will move away and families will move away. Now, everyone can raise their children here.”
There were legal issues to overcome, but once the Kansas attorney general’s office got involved, Pawnee County was able to secure the rights to a critical care access license for Pawnee Valley Community Hospital.
“Pawnee County would not take no for an answer,” Moran said. “You are a role model. Pawnee County citizens said, ‘We are were going to make a difference ourselves.’ They made it happen. Congratulations on making it happen.”
Moran, born in Plainville, and a longtime resident of Hays, said he was developed a personal affinity for Larned and Pawnee County. He recalled that Brown’s Grove Township in Pawnee County was the first reporting precinct in 1988 when he won his first Kansas Senate election.
“There is no community I feel more welcome than Larned and Pawnee County,” he said. “This place has become a second home.”
Moran was greeted by a warm welcome that started and finished with a standing ovation from the gathering.