On Wednesday afternoon, I traveled to Dodge City to tour the Western Plains Medical Complex (WPMC) where I learned more about how health providers there are working to improve care in Ford County and the surrounding area. WPMC is a 99-bed hospital that serves as a regional patient referral center for Southwest Kansas. The hospital was recently named one of the nation's Top Performers on Key Quality Measures by the Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the U.S. This quality recognition was based upon performance measures in surgery, pneumonia, and heart attack care. WPMC is one of only eight hospitals across the state -- and the only hospital in Southwest Kansas -- to earn this recognition.
This visit gave me the opportunity to meet Michael Burroughs, who became CEO of WPMC this past March. I was pleased to learn that the hospital recently introduced four physicians to the Dodge City community, including: ophthalmologist James Meehan; orthopedic surgeon Jeffrey Gilles; pulmanologist Roman Reznik; and infectious disease specialist Tienchia Narach. These doctors will play an important role strengthening Southwest Kansans' access to quality health care services. Their arrival is a reminder that the federal government should create an environment that helps -- not hinders -- the ability of our Kansas communities to recruit and retain highly qualified medical professionals. Our Kansas quality of life depends on it.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over our nation's health programs, it is valuable to me to visit Kansas hospitals and talk with health care providers to fully understand how they utilize resources to care for patients and support their communities. The visit provided an important opportunity for me to learn more about issues affecting the way Western Plains delivers health care services to residents of southwest Kansas, including potential impacts of budget sequestration and legislation I sponsored to extend Medicare reimbursements to hospitals. Thanks to Michael and his staff for inviting me and thanks to Judy Davis, emergency room director; Dr. Ben Short, emergency room physician; Gregg Bonnoy, pharmacy director; Deb Goodwin, marketing director and Debbie Kyzar, chief financial officer for taking time to visit. Special thanks to Jeff Forrest for leading our tour.