U.S. Senator Moran speaks at Kiwanis meeting

Saturday, October 17, 2015
Tammy Helm/Tribune photo U.S. Senator Jerry Moran speaks during a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Pioneer and Kiwanis clubs Thursday. His visit was part of a Kansas Listening Tour.

During a stop in Fort Scott Thursday, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran spoke to members of the community during a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Pioneer and the Kiwanis clubs.

One of the topics Moran spoke about is the importance of a hospital to a community.

He made reference to the Kiwanis pledge, which states the organization's goal of "improving the world one child and one community at a time."

"I'm of the view we change the world on person, one soul at a time," Moran said. "While what happens in our nation's capital is important, what really happens in this community, what happens in communities across our country, determines the future of our nation, and certainly goes much further in making the quality of life for people and the opportunities available.

"So while I recognize the nation's capitol matters and it's pleasing that you are all here to express your opinions, I also want to commend community leaders, community citizens who decided we're going to make good things happen in Fort Scott."

Prior to meeting with the Kiwanians and community members, Moran visited Mercy Hospital Fort Scott.

This wasn't his first visit to the hospital. Moran said he has visited each of the hospitals in Kansas.

However, since Moran's past trips, the number of hospitals is now reduced to 127 with the recent closing of Mercy Hospital Independence.

Shortly after Mercy Health systems announced that closure, hospital officials announced Mercy Hospital Fort Scott would not be changing.

Moran said one reason he wanted to come to Fort Scott was to meet with Mercy Fort Scott officials "to connect with that hospital, to be supportive of their decision to continue to provide services, to continue to be a hospital in this community.

"My primary interest in asking you to vote for me, going back to the very beginning, is the belief in rural America. What do we do today to make sure our communities have a future, to make sure our children have the opportunity to raise their families in the places that we call home?"

He said the one factor that is most important, and the one that Washington, D.C., has an active role in, is access to quality, affordable health care.

"Your hospital is an example," Moran said. "In its absence, this community would be greatly diminished. The decision that Mercy made is a great sign of the future."

He said he asked what the difference is between Independence and Fort Scott and why was the decision on those two hospitals different. Although officials at Mercy would not comment about Independence, he said they shared thoughts about Fort Scott.

"What I heard ... was the quality of leadership, the strength of the medical community, the leadership and that goes back to saying 'We solve our problems in our communities by local folks doing things that make a difference.'"

He said Fort Scott's hospital benefits in part from legislation he introduced "a long time ago." Mercy Fort Scott is one of three hospitals that are part of a pilot program giving hospitals cost-based reimbursement.

He said the pilot program is nearing its expiration date, but work is being done to extend the program.

"We're hoping the Senate will approve that plan in the next few days, so I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on in Fort Scott," Moran said.

He said his parents, who lived into their 90s were able to remain living in his hometown of Plainville because quality health care was available to them.

"We want to make certain in keeping that goal of having rural America alive and well, we do things necessary to keep hospitals open and health care services available," Moran said.

He said that also applies to physicians, pharmacies and home health care services.

The fact that more than 200 babies have been delivered at Fort Scott shows there is younger population in the community, he said.

"That's an awfully good thing," Moran said.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

Another local project that is impacted by action in Washington, D.C., is expanding the boundaries of the Fort Scott National Historic Site to include the Lunette Blair Civil War Block House.

"I decided that Anne (Emerson) was never going to go away," Moran said, eliciting some laughter from the audience.

Emerson is a member of the FSNHS Friends of the Fort.

"So we introduced some legislation and we'll work hard to get that passed," Moran said. "We appreciate this community's caring concern for preserving our history and the opportunities it presents to a community to showcase Kansas and Fort Scott."

Veterans

Moran said he turned 18 years old after the Vietnam Conflict had ended, but he said as a high school student, he learned that everyone needs to honor and care for those who served the country.

When he was first elected, he asked to be a member of the Veterans' Committee, of which is continues to serve.

He spoke of the need for all veterans to have access to VA hospital services. He said the committee pushed the Department of Veterans Affairs to open outpatient clinics for routine services for veterans who have to travel to reach a VA hospital.

In order to help local hospitals, Moran said there is now a push to allow veterans to also see their own physicians in their hometowns. The idea is for any veterans who has to travel more than 40 miles, or have to wait 30 days to obtain services, be allowed to seek medical services in their hometown.

"The VA doesn't like this law, and they are making it very difficult for veterans to access it," Moran said.