Health

Health
8:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Kansans Gather To Address Sliding Health Ranking

Rankings from the United Health Foundation show Kansas is on a long, steady decline — from 8th healthiest state in 1991 to 27th in 2013.

To address the problem, health officials from all over the state are spending two days in Wichita at the Kansas Health Foundation Symposium. The event is a call to action to make Kansans healthier.

"That is the purpose of this conference—to spark the discussion to help us reverse this horrible trend in Kansas," said Kansas Health Foundation President and CEO Steve Coen, summarizing the need for the symposium.

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Health
3:36 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Bluford Takes Pride In Truman Medical Center Turnaround

John Bluford (left), retiring CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo., reflected on his health care career in a conversation this week with R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the Kansas City Public Library. The discussion took place at the downtown branch of the Kansas City Public Library.
Credit Mike Sherry / KCPT - Hale Center for Journalism.

After only two weeks as the new CEO of Kansas City’s safety-net hospital system, John Bluford called an emergency 6:30 a.m. meeting of the Truman Medical Centers board.

After assurances that he was not going to quit, Bluford told the board members, “I understood when I took this position that the system was broken. It’s not broken. It’s structurally defective.” And that, he said, “was the baseline we started from.”

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Health
6:21 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Planned Parenthood Of Kansas And Mid-Missouri Chooses New CEO

Laura McQuade will head Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri starting July 1.
Credit Courtesy / Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has chosen a new president and chief executive officer to succeed Peter Brownlie, who retired two months ago.

Laura McQuade has served for the past six years as chief operating officer and executive vice president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York. The organization more than doubled its budget and staff during her tenure, according to a news release announcing her appointment.

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Health
4:20 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

One In Eight Kansas Pregnancies In 2013 Involved Women Who Smoked

 In Kansas last year, more than 4,800 women smoked cigarettes during their pregnancies, according to a preliminary summary of birth statistics released Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The finding means that in 2013, about one in every eight births - 12.5 percent - involved mothers who smoked for at least three months shortly before or during their pregnancies.

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Health
3:38 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Data Show Vast Disparities In Kansas City Area Hospital Charges

New figures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show large disparities between medical charges in Kansas City hospitals.
Credit Mercy Health / Flickr-CC

Considering a major joint replacement?

If you check into the University of Kansas Hospital, you might be charged more than $115,000. But if you go to Olathe Medical Center just 22 miles down the road, you’re apt to be billed just over $50,000.

Coping with renal failure? At Truman Medical Center, the bill is likely to add up to more than $14,000. But at Research Medical Center, a mere six miles distant, it’s more likely to come to $48,000.

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Health
9:45 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Wichita VA Hospital Had Secret Waiting List For Patients

The director of the VA hospital in Wichita said Friday that they kept a secret waiting list for patients.
Credit Jeffery Beall / CC

Despite assurances to the contrary, the VA hospital in Wichita kept a secret waiting list for patients. The hospital's director revealed that information Friday in a message to Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.

Roberts told the Wichita Eagle he was not happy to see that message just hours after he’d met with officials of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center, who assured him the hospital was doing just fine. But one patient of the Wichita VA facility says the news is no surprise.

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Health
9:44 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Brownback Discusses Opposition To Medicaid Expansion in Heritage Foundation Interview

Gov. Sam Brownback
Credit file photo

The inaugural edition of a Heritage Foundation news site features an interview with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback explaining “how Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion hurts states.”

The interview is featured in the Daily Signal, a new online publication “supported by the resources and intellectual firepower” of the foundation, which describes its mission as promoting “conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.”

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Health
5:43 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Grant Aims To Cure Kidney Patients’ Failure To Stick To Medication Routine

UMKC Professor Cindy Russell studies medication adherence among kidney transplant recipients.
Credit University of Missouri - Kansas City

About 75 percent of kidney transplant recipients fail to properly take the medications they need to stay healthy, says Cynthia Russell, a professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies.

After receiving a transplant, patients - many of whom previously needed kidney dialysis – typically feel healthy and often simply forget to take medications as needed twice a day.

“They are active. They are feeling good. They are just living normal lives,” Russell says.

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Health
2:39 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Robot Helps Save The Day At Rural Hospital

Sophisticated medical robots like these are being used at a growing number of hospitals in Kansas and elsewhere, including small, rural facilities such as Hamilton County Hospital in Syracuse. Chief executive Bryan Coffey credits a robot with helping turn around the hospital's troubled finances while saving residents long drives to big-city medical centers for specialty care.
Credit Hamilton County Hospital

Some small, rural Kansas hospitals are using highly sophisticated medical robots in ways that are helping ease the shortage of specialists in their areas and - in at least one instance - boosting the bottom line.

Hamilton County Hospital, in Syracuse, Kan., was on the brink of closing little more than a year ago because of financial and staffing problems, but use of a robot has been a key factor in the facility’s dramatic turnaround, according to chief executive Bryan Coffey.

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Health
9:46 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Chronic Pain Expert To Speak In Kansas City Tonight

Judy Foreman

Judy Foreman, a nationally recognized expert on chronic pain and its effect on the nation’s health care system, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.

Foreman, a Boston-based science writer and a nationally syndicated health columnist, is the author of the book “A Nation in Pain,” an in-depth look at how pain is perceived – and misperceived - and treated in the United States.

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Up To Date
9:00 am
Tue June 3, 2014

America's Chronic Pain Problem

Credit vaXzine / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’ve got a shooting pain in your back that won’t quit or nagging, achy knees, you might be one of millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with Judy Foreman to discuss her new book, A Nation in Pain. We'll get to the bottom of why our society fails to fully treat nearly 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain.

Guest:

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Central Standard
1:15 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Kick It Like A Habit: Giving Up Old Behaviors And Developing New Ones

Excessive television, overindulging in junk food and soda: Can we replace bad habits with good ones?
Credit public domain / Wikimedia Commons

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." 

But making excellence a habit is easier said than done. For most people, the word habit evokes thoughts of junk food or television, not excellence.

Psychologist Bruce Liese stopped by Central Standard to talk about the ins and outs of habit formation, and help us recognize the difference between a good habit and a bad one. He offered advice on getting to the root causes of our most deeply ingrained patterns and offered insight into the common problem of relapse. 

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Health
4:38 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Supporters Stage Kansas Statehouse Rally

Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, spoke on Friday to supporters of Medicaid expansion in front of the Kansas Statehouse.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

Supporters of expanding Kansas Medicaid eligibility to more low-income adults rallied Friday at the Statehouse to call attention to the issue as legislators formally ended the 2014 session.

The federal health reform law initially required states to expand Medicaid eligibility. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2012 that upheld the law made expansion optional for states.

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Health
2:40 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

City Warns Residents About Using Red Garbage Bags

Public works officials in Kansas City, Mo., are warning residents not to leave biohazard bags on their curbs — because the city won't take them.
Credit Wikimedia -- CC

Kansas City’s Public Works Department wants residents to know: If your garbage bags have a biohazard logo on them, the city won’t take your trash.

Some residents have recently bought red biohazard trash bags from a door-to-door salesman.

Public Works spokesman Sean Demory says that during the past month, garbage crews have spotted a few hundred of the bio-waste bags mostly on the east side between 47th and 63rd streets.

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Health
6:58 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Blunt: Death Of Combat Veteran Points To Deficiencies In V.A. Care

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (center), R-MO, spoke at a roundtable discussion at Truman Medical Centers' Behavioral Health Services. Joining Blunt at the head table were Charlie Shields (left), chief operating officer of Truman's Lakewood facility, and John Bluford, president and CEO of the Truman system.
Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

The weekend shooting death of a former Army paratrooper in Kansas City highlights deficiencies in the care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said during a visit to to Kansas City on Thursday.

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Health
5:36 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Kansas City Ranks High In Medical Access, According To New Report

Kansas City ranks No. 4 among cities in the United States in access residents have to quality doctors and hospitals, according to a report released by Vitals, a website that collects data on doctors and provider quality.

The report considered provider-to-resident ratios, doctor quality, ease of getting an appointment and wait times.

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Health
8:31 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Father Favors Kansas Diversion Bill For Mentally Ill Combat Veterans

Jim Brann, a retired telecommunications executive from Overland Park, testified Wednesday in favor of a bill aimed at providing treatment to mentally ill veterans who have committed crimes.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

The father of a combat veteran who says that mental illness played a role in his son’s bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps is asking Kansas legislators to introduce a bill aimed at reducing the likelihood that a mentally ill veteran would spend time in jail or prison instead of being treated.

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Health
5:00 am
Thu May 29, 2014

KC Checkup: Five Questions For Pam Seymour

Pam Seymour is executive director of Shepard's Center of KC Central.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

The older you get, the more complicated and expensive health care becomes. A study from the National Institutes of Health shows that half the money that’s spent on Americans’ health is spent on care after age 65.

That’s why changes to the health system – like the Affordable Care Act and Medicare reform — can be especially concerning to older people.

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Health
5:38 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

First Peanut Allergy-Friendly Royals Event Of Season Thrills Handful Of Fans

Twin brothers Camden and Preston Tyrrell watch the Royals with their father, Chris.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

For fifteen-year-old Antonio Franco, going out to something like a baseball game can be complicated, even dangerous.

“I accidently ate the wrong kind of cookie,” he says, remembering a severe allergic reaction. “We ended up having to rush to the hospital.”

Franco is one of an increasing number of children and teenagers who have severe food allergies, especially to peanuts. Because peanuts and foods containing peanut traces are so common, these kids and their parents are often limited in where they can go for fun.

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Health
5:32 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

New Missouri Dental Director Wants State To Be A 'Guiding Light'

Dr. B. Ray Storm, Missouri's new state dental director, addressed members of an oral health access committee in Kansas City on Wednesday.
Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

Missouri’s new state dental director has been on board for about half a year, and during a visit to Kansas City on Wednesday, he outlined a number of initiatives aimed at making the state a national leader in oral health.

“I want (other states) to come to us,” Dr. B. Ray Storm said at a meeting of the Oral Health Access Committee, which is part of a regional health initiative through the Mid-America Regional Council. “Let us be the guiding light for the rest of the country.”

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Central Standard
2:43 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Constructing A Sustainable Toilet

Bill Jacoby watches as research assistant Nick Wilkinson takes a sample of the toilet system's water output.
Credit Jessica Salmond / University of Missouri

Professors from the University of Missouri and Duke University have been working to design self-sustaining toilets.  While this may not seem like a need in counties with developed sewer system, in places without sewer networks dealing with human waste can be a serious health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility and roughly 2 million people die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases, most of them younger than 5 years old.

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Health
8:52 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Kansas Governor Finds Additional $9.5 Million For Mental Health

Gov. Sam Brownback announced his administration will spend an additional $9.5 million on mental health services with most of the money earmarked for family preservation programs. The governor, center, is flanked by KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan and DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday announced that his administration will spend an additional $9.5 million on services for the mentally ill in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“This is a major, important issue,” Brownback said during an afternoon press conference at the Statehouse.

Most of new money - $7 million – will come from the state’s federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant.

The remainder will come from other sources including:

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Health
4:52 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Cancer Clinical Trial Program In Kansas Awaits Decision On Its Fate

A high-mag image of Seminoma, one of many types of cancer treated at Wichita-based Cancer Center of Kansas.
Credit Wikimedia / CC

Kraig Moore is one of the patients helping test experimental cancer treatments through a clinical trials program operated by the Wichita-based Cancer Center of Kansas. The 47-year-old psychologist, who also operates a bed-and-breakfast near Mulvane, Kan., was diagnosed last January with stage 3b metastatic malignant melanoma.

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Central Standard
12:02 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Abuse Narratives Inform Recovery In Domestic Violence Shelters

A University of Kansas professor's recent research at a domestic violence shelter indicates that the way survivors must tell their stories in order to gain access to resources could be working against the emotional recovery process.

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Fri May 23, 2014

'Fed Up' Links Obesity Epidemic to Sugar, Industry, Government

Scene from 'Fed Up,' an activist documentary that focuses on childhood obesity.
Credit RADiUS-TWC

Just who’s to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic? Over the years, the finger has been pointed at parents, video games and vending machines, to name a few.

To the makers of the new activist documentary, “Fed Up,” the bottom line of blame lies with a simple substance poured into our diets every day: sugar. And the pushers of what this film calls a drug and “the new tobacco” are the food industry and our own government.

“What if our whole approach to this epidemic has been dead wrong?” the film’s narrator, TV journalist Katie Couric, says in the film’s open.

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Health
12:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Harding Tapped As New CEO Of Wyandotte Health Foundation

Cathy Harding has been named the new president and CEO of the Wyandotte Health Foundation.
Credit Wyandotte Health Foundation

The Wyandotte Health Foundation has named a veteran of the regional safety-net health system as its next leader.

The foundation board announced Thursday the hiring of Cathy Harding, who since 2007 has served as executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, the Primary Care Association of Kansas in Topeka.

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Health
7:59 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Three Strikes: KC Public Housing Smoking Ban Puts Onus On Tenants

Guinotte Manor will go smoke-free on July 1.
Credit Todd Feeback / KCPT

Despite the well-known risks, rates of smoking have remained stubbornly high in Missouri – about 25 percent of adults, compared with 18 percent nationally. In Kansas City public housing, the problem is even worse, with smokers comprising 40 percent of all tenants.

That high rate is especially disturbing to health advocates because of the high numbers of vulnerable people, particularly children, the disabled and elderly, who live in public housing.

A new policy aims to do away with smoking in city-owned housing, but many residents are not pleased.

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Health
3:34 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Kansas City Area Coalition Launches To Fight Stigma Of Mental Ilness

John Shuchart, who has discussed his bout with depression, spoke Wednesday at the launch of the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition. Looking on was Don Goldman, CEO of Jewish Family Services.
Credit Submitted photo / Jewish Family Services

Organizers on Wednesday unveiled a new partnership that builds on a mental health initiative started in the local Jewish community.

The aim of the effort, known as the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition, is to broaden to other parts of the metropolitan area the message from the Jewish community that it’s all right to talk about mental illness.

Led by Jewish Family Services (JFS), the coalition is a bistate effort that includes providers, support groups, advocacy organizations and other nonprofits.

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Health
12:13 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Study: Missouri Ranks Low In Senior Health, Kansas Improves Standing

Missouri ranks near the bottom in senior health, according to a new study out from United Health Foundation.
Credit Patrick / Flickr--CC

Missouri is the 39th healthiest state for older adults, according to a study released Wednesday by a nonprofit arm of UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest health insurer.

In the second state-by-state analysis undertaken by the United Health Foundation, Missouri slipped three places, hurt by relatively high smoking rates, a high percentage of low-care nursing home residents and a low percentage of dental visits within the previous 12 months.

Nearly 12 percent of Missouri adults age 65 and older are smokers, according to the study, 46th worst in the nation.

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Health
8:48 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Hall Foundation Gift Propels KU Med Center Building Project

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announcing a $25 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation to help fund construction of a new medical education building on the school’s medical center campus.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

 A $25 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation has generated the funds needed by the University of Kansas to move forward with a critical building project on its medical center campus.

The gift, announced Tuesday at the University of Kansas Medical Center,  gives the university most of the $75 million needed to construct a new medical education building. The new facility will replace an aging building that doesn’t meet modern classroom standards and needs more than $5 million in repairs.

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