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Reno County Commission Replaces Medical Consultant

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By Lucky Kidd

 

RENO COUNTY, Kan. — After close to two hours of public comment and discussion a sharply divided Reno County Commission voted 3-2 this morning to appoint Dr. Deanna Marshall as the Medical Advisor to the Reno County Health Department. Commissioners John Whitesel, Randy Parks and Don Bogner voted for Marshall, while Chairman Daniel Friesen and Commissioner Ron Hirst backed current advisor Dr. Scott Pauly.

Prior to a lengthy discussion among themselves severs people addressed the Commission, including State Senator Dr. Mark Steffen, who has been long at odds with Pauly and the Health Department over how they handled COVID-19. Dr. Steffen said this is simply a matter of job performance, saying he “failed” in how he handled it.

He added, the time has come to move on.

“The hospital’s moved on, there’s basically nobody administratively left, very few physicians who took care of COVID patients left, it is time to move on for the best interests of the citizens of Reno County,” Dr. Steffen said.

Casey Swartz, who two weeks ago sharply criticized Steffen who supported appointment of Dr. Marshall, said qualifications and experience should be the only consideration. “Dr. Pauly is reasoned, articulate, professional and experiences. His knowledge of the facts is spot on. He’s the most qualified candidate,” Swartz said, adding that Reno County has been fortunate to have him as medical advisor.

Two Reno County school board members addressed the commission, with differing points of view. Hutchinson USD 308 Board member Cheryl Thompson was critical of Dr. Pauly’s support of vaccine and masking mandates among other things. “Mandates only put fear in people, divided families, closed businesses except liquor stores, affected churches and schools, and our kids are still behind in school,” she told Commissioners in calling for Dr, Marshall’s appointment citing a lack of trust in Dr Pauly.

Backing Dr. Pauly’s reappointment was Buhler USD 313 Board of Education president Laura Meyer Dick, who noted while they are still seeing some impacts, their overall test scores have gone up. Meyer-Dick said she’s known both Marshall and Pauly for many years, but felt Dr. Pauly would do a better job based on interaction she had both on the school board and the board of TECH.

“I was able to experience firsthand his knowledge and concern for our community and the well-being of its citizens.” Meyer-Dick told the board.

Citing the differing political views of the current County Commission majority, she added there were things she did not agree with Pauly on.

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Commissioner Hirst first made a motion to appoint Pauly, after which he said comments made by him during an interview with both candidates convinced him he was the right person. Hurst said Dr. Pauly “was the only candidate who actually brought up present health situations to today and didn’t look backwards.”

Commissioner Don Bogner, who ultimately voted for Dr. Marshall, said he had been back and forth on who he would vote for, calling the vote the worst decision he’s ever had to make in his life. He expressed concerns about misinformation throughout the COVID pandemic, and comments he’s heard regarding the Health Department, pointing out this has nothing to do with the department, only with the medical advisor to it.

For Commissioner Randall Parks, this is a very personal issue, having lost two relatives and a close friend who were hospitalized after taking the vaccine.

“They were perfectly fine until after they took it. Their health failed, they went to the hospital, they were given further treatment, walked in breathing, the OSAP was fine”, Bogner said. “But they came out dead a couple of days later.” Bogner also knows of two vaccinated people that are wearing pacemakers, and with that he’s convinced the vaccine can negatively impact certain people.

Commissioner John Whitesel said the big issue for him is that senior leadership in the Health Department was of one mind on COVID. “Leadership in the Health Department, including Dr. Pauly, seemed to have the same or similar opinions on this,” Whitesel said, adding that common narrative in his view caused a lot a fear and made things worse than they could have been.

Whitesel, who at the time the pandemic began in the spring of 2020 was on the Haven USD 312 Board of Education, told his fellow commissioners many peer-reviewed studies he looked at, including some from highly respected entities, often had buried in them a paragraph that, in effect, said they were not sure what they were saying was completely accurate.

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