One month short of nine years since the day the community of Hillsboro was promised a new state-of-the-art hospital facility, about 150 residents, well-wishers, dignitaries and hospital staff gathered Saturday morning to celebrate the completion of that promise.
Vision and perseverance were common themes from the list of speakers who were invited to make comments during the 30-minute grand-opening program.
“I want to tell you how proud you should be of your community, how things came together to make this hospital possible,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, the featured speaker.
“While there’s a component in this that involves the federal government, what really took place here is individual citizens, community leaders, the mayor, the hospital board and the city council, who decided we’re going to do the things necessary to make sure we can provide health care for the citizens of Hillsboro and the surrounding community.
“In the absence of a new building and equipment and great professionals, the ability for Hillsboro to attract in the future the people they need to provide care for the citizens of Marion County disappears,” Moran added.
Mayor Delores Dalke said the long-awaited grand opening will enable her to keep a promise she has made frequently in recent years.
“For those of you who have been around me the last few years, you know that I kept saying I would keep running for mayor until this hospital is built,” Dalke said with a smile. “Well, the hospital’s built and you will have a new mayor starting next year.”
On a more serious note, Dalke said, “We are so excited about this building, but there’s a lot more to this whole hospital than the building.
“We have some of the best doctors in the whole state of Kansas here, and we have phenomenal employees who work here—nurses, and staff. That’s finally what makes up a hospital.”
Also contributing comments were representatives from the Bank of Hays, the USDA, who provided guaranteed loans, and JE Dunn Construction, the contractors who completed the $11.4 million facility on schedule despite 43 inches of rain that fell at the job site through the first six months of construction.
Clint Seibel, executive director of the Hillsboro Development Corp., said the community and everyone else involved in the project have learned a lot over the years of work and waiting.
“I think we’ve learned that good ideas take time,” he said. “This project has taken longer than we could have imagined, but with everyone’s perseverance and hard work it has come to pass,
“Secondly, I think we’ve learned that projects of this magnitude take a lot of people and the cooperation of many folks.
“Finally, I believe we’re learning that successful communities are willing to invest in themselves,” Seibel said. “Hillsboro has had a long history of engaged leaders who invested their time, resources and energy for the greater good.
“We need to use the lessons we’ve learned here to propel us on into the future, and we will accomplish even more things for our community and for our town.”
Following the program, the crowd was invited inside the facility for tours and refreshments.