Dan Margolies

Editor, Heartland Health Monitor

Dan Margolies is editor of Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long…

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The University of Kansas Hospital

Anticipating strong patient demand, The University of Kansas Hospital plans to add four floors to the Cambridge North Patient Tower now under construction just northeast of the hospital complex in Kansas City, Kan.

Jennifer Morrow / Flickr--CC

Updated at 4:56 p.m.

In a sweeping decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled that the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion and blocked a Kansas law banning the second-trimester abortion method known as “dilation and evacuation.”

The ruling represents a major victory for abortion rights activists, who contended the ban increased the complexity and risk of second-trimester abortions. And it marks the first time a Kansas appellate court has found a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.

HCA Midwest Health

As expected, hospital giant HCA is challenging a court judgment last month ordering it to pay the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City nearly $434 million.

The company filed a formal notice a few days ago that it plans to appeal the judgment to the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City.

In December, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Torrence found that HCA had breached capital and charitable contribution commitments it made when it bought several local hospitals in 2003 for more than $1 billion.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

This story was updated at 8:19 p.m. 

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts will take no action against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri after looking into whether it engaged in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.  

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Planned Parenthood President and CEO Laura McQuade said the board had sent a letter to Planned Parenthood and its attorney on Jan. 7 stating “no further action will be taken at this time.”

Joe Gratz / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Missouri health officials likely violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when they threatened to revoke the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

In barring the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) from revoking the clinic’s license, U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey found the department had treated Planned Parenthood more harshly “than other similarly situated institutions.”

Creative Commons-Pixabay

Independence, Missouri, on Monday became the third major municipality in the Kansas City area to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21 from 18.

Following similar votes in the last two months by Kansas City, Missouri, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, the Independence City Council approved the measure by a 6-1 vote at a council meeting last night.

NIAID / Creative Commons-Flickr

A Johnson County resident is the latest person to fall ill with an E. coli infection that may be linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill.  

The resident reported having eaten at a Chipotle on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee, Kansas, in the week before becoming ill.

“The big thing for people to know is this was around Nov. 23 that they ate at that location,” said Sara Belfry, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

NIAID in collaboration with Colorado State University

Kansas is one of seven states that rank in the bottom tier in a newly released report measuring states’ readiness to deal with infectious disease outbreaks.

Bigstock

The government has extended until Thursday the deadline to sign up for health coverage starting Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

Government officials said a surge of people selecting plans over the two days before the original Tuesday deadline led to the extension. One million people left contact information after encountering delays logging onto the healthcare.gov website or reaching call centers, the officials said.

Creative Commons-Pixabay

A study showing that communities that spend less on Medicare don’t necessarily spend less on health care overall is throwing cold water on some long-cherished assumptions about how to reduce the cost of health care.

Pixabay--Creative Commons

Four Kansas City area hospitals are among 758 nationwide being penalized by Medicare for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare considers avoidable.

The hospitals are:

  • Blue Valley Hospital
  • Menorah Medical Center 
  • The University of Kansas Hospital
  • Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill

Under Medicare’s Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, the four will see their 2016 Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

This story was updated at 8:41 p.m. to include HCA's response.

A Jackson County judge has awarded nearly $434 million to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City in its long-running lawsuit against HCA Midwest Health over whether HCA fulfilled the pledges it made when it bought several local hospitals in 2003 for more than $1 billion.

The award represents a sweeping victory for the foundation, which was created with proceeds from the sale of the hospitals and argued that HCA reneged on its commitments.

Commonwealth Fund

Though both showed improvements, Kansas and Missouri continue to rank in the bottom half of states on measures of health care access, quality, costs and outcomes, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund

Overall, Kansas tied for 28th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia and Missouri ranked 36th. Kansas improved on 10 indicators and worsened on one while Missouri improved on nine and worsened on one. 

Joe Gratz / Flickr -- Creative Commons

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City is looking at a potential windfall that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to its coffers, vastly expanding the pool of money it has to fund and promote community health programs.

Although legal appeals could delay its receipt of the money for several years, the foundation’s long-running lawsuit against local hospital giant HCA Midwest Health is coming to a head. And court documents show HCA is on the hook to the foundation for at least $319 million and possibly as much as $434 million.

A much talked-about study by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel Prize for economics last month, found a spike in the death rate for middle-aged white Americans between 1999 and 2013, specifically those with a high school education or less.

Big Cities Health Coalition

Last month the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized Kansas City for its efforts to improve public health with its Culture of Health prize.

Now a newly released report by the Big Cities Health Coalition comparing health outcomes in the country’s 26 biggest cities offers a boatload of data suggesting Kansas City has made strides in many areas but lags in others.

Mark Schierbecker / Wikipedia -- CC

This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. to include a response from the University of Missouri's spokesman.

Cerner Corp. is unhappy that the University of Missouri has given the former chancellor of its Columbia campus a supporting role in a partnership operated by MU and Cerner without Cerner’s prior knowledge or approval.

The University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital has filed plans to expand its presence in Overland Park and build a 60-bed hospital there.

The Overland Park Planning Commission last week unanimously approved the request for a special use permit by The Winbury Group, the developer of the project. The request now goes to the City Council.

The hospital would be located on the southwest corner of 107th Street and Nall Avenue, near an inpatient surgical center operated by KU Hospital that was formerly known as Heartland Surgical Specialty Hospital.  

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Children’s Mercy Hospital, which opened its first clinic in Kansas nearly 30 years ago and now has eight spread across the state, has changed the name of its facility in Overland Park from Children’s Mercy South to Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas.

Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Kansas City-based pediatric hospital, announced the name change at a news conference Thursday afternoon attended by hospital staff and supporters, political dignitaries and what he called “our real bosses,” half a dozen children sprawled on the floor alongside him.

Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute

Dr. John A. Spertus, a renowned heart researcher at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Heart Association.

The award recognizes Spertus’ contributions to cardiovascular outcomes research and improved cardiovascular care, according to a news release from Saint Luke’s.

Spertus has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles related to his research. PubMed, which indexes citations to medical journal articles, lists his name on nearly 600 papers.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

About two dozen community hospitals in Kansas and Nebraska have signed up to use Cerner Corp.’s electronic health technology.

The hospitals are members of the Great Plains Health Alliance, which provides management services to critical access hospitals in both states.

Critical access hospitals focus on outpatient care and are limited to no more than 25 inpatient beds. Under federal Medicare guidelines, they are required to be at least 35 miles distant from any other hospital.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Carl Adams has an aggressive form of blood cancer that has resisted multiple attempts to treat it through chemotherapy. So in September, the 47-year-old father of two young daughters traveled halfway around the world with his family from their native Australia to The University of Kansas Cancer Center. There, a clinical trial is underway to test a therapy that harnesses the power of a patient’s own immune system to attack malignant cells.

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Cerner Corp. and Truman Medical Centers have expanded their long-standing relationship.

About 100 information technology employees at Truman will now become employees of Cerner, the fast growing health-information technology company based in Kansas City. Shane Kovac, a spokesman for Truman, says the idea is to create a “living-lab”-like environment with the idea of improving overall population health.

Victor / Flickr -- CC

Older adults enrolled for prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D but bewildered by its complexity will have a chance to clear up some of their confusion at a free health fair on Saturday.

Sponsored by the law and pharmacy schools of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the fair takes place from 9 a.m. to noon at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium at 50th and Holmes.

Medicare Part D drug plans are run by private insurance companies and typically require the payment of a monthly premium. The amount varies from plan to plan.

Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse

More than two dozen lawsuits alleging that a laparoscopic device used to break up fibroid tissue caused cancerous cells to spread in women’s bodies have been consolidated in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas.

The device, known as a power morcellator, was the subject of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning last November. The agency said it posed a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue, notably uterine sarcomas, beyond the uterus and shouldn’t be used on most women.

State of Kansas official portrait

This story was updated at 2:12 p.m. to include the remarks of the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. 

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is suing the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court who suspended his law license two years ago, claiming numerous violations of his legal rights.

Cynthia Page / Flickr -- Creative Commons

It turns out that enterovirus D68, which sent about 500 children to Children’s Mercy Hospital last fall and sickened hundreds of others across North America, is no deadlier than other common cold germs.

A study published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) says that while the virus was particularly aggressive and spread quickly, children with EV-D68 didn’t have a greater risk of death than kids who caught other viruses.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. to include comments from Megon Riedel.   

A pregnant woman who was allegedly shackled, chained and transported from the Jackson County jail to a facility 192 miles away while bleeding, vomiting and experiencing contractions has sued the county and three of its guards.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Updated: Monday, 7:43 p.m.:

The ACLU of Missouri on Tuesday filed separate lawsuits on behalf of three Missouri college students who were billed for tuition at the nonresident rate because of their immigration status.

All three came to the U.S. as youngsters and live here under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the lawsuits state. DACA allows undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children to stay provided they meet certain requirements.

Maria Carter / KCUR

A 72-bed, private behavioral health hospital opens its doors this week in Olathe amid growing demand for mental health and substance abuse services in an era of uncertain government support.  

Cottonwood Springs Hospital is the 12th behavioral health hospital built or under construction by Springstone Inc., a for-profit company founded in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2010 and backed by venture capital.

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