On Thursday morning, I traveled to McPherson Hospital and visit with hospital administrators, doctors, nurses and other staff members about issues that impact the way the hospital delivers quality care to patients in Central Kansas. McPherson Hospital is a 41-bed facility serving thousands of Kansans annually from McPherson County and the surrounding area. During my tour, I was able to learn about medical simulator models recently donated to the hospital through the McPherson Healthcare Foundation which will be used by staff in the obstetrics and surgical departments to practice a variety of medical procedures, including catheterization and IV placement. I was glad to visit with Dr. Tyler Hughes, a surgeon at McPherson Hospital who was named the 2012 Rural Health Practitioner of the Year by the National Rural Health Association.
McPherson Hospital and other rural hospitals across the country deliver health care to more than 60 million Americans and are the health and economic backbone for communities across our nation. These facilities are often the sole source of comprehensive health care in their areas, and are typically the largest employer and an economic engine in the communities they serve. During my visit, we discussed how certain factors that may be beyond a hospital's control, such as a facility's rural location or the age and volume of patients treated, can significantly affect the costs of furnishing care. We also discussed how federal policies create uncertainty for rural hospitals that require them to frequently reevaluate how to best allocate their limited resources to serve the unique needs of their communities. It is important that members of Congress understand these challenges because access to the health care these hospitals provide determines whether Kansans can remain in their communities and whether their children can return home to raise families of their own. Thanks to Terri Gehring, Jill Wenger, George Hamala, and Cyril Russell for leading this tour.