Dave Ranney

Reporter, Heartland Health Monitor

Dave Ranney reports for the Heartland Health Monitor team, a reporting collaboration among KCUR Public Media, KCPT Public Television, Kansas Public Radio and KHI News Service. He is based at the KHI News Service in Topeka.

Ranney developed a statewide reputation for excellence while covering state government and social issues for the Harris News Service, the Wichita Eagle and, most recently, the Lawrence Journal-World. 

Heartland Health Monitor
12:04 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Kansas Budget Cuts Affect Department For Children And Families

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families says the agency plans to heed Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for cutting $3.9 million from its fiscal year 2015 budget by delaying a planned upgrade of its computer system.

The savings should cover “almost all of our anticipated FY 2015 reduction,” DCF spokesperson Theresa Freed said in an email, referring to the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.

Delaying the upgrade, she said, will have “no impact” on the department’s services for at-risk children and low-income families.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:47 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Wichita Center Feels Effects Of Limited Admissions At Osawatomie State Hospital

A decision last week by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to limit admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital has had an immediate effect on the state’s mental health system.

Marilyn Cook, executive director at COMCARE, the community mental health center in Wichita, says the state’s decision to suspend admission of voluntary patients and more closely screen involuntary admissions recently prevented the center from transferring several patients thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:46 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Moser To Lead Heart Disease, Stroke Collaborative At KU Hospital

Dr. Robert Moser, who resigned last month as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has a new job.

Earlier this week, Moser was named executive director for the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Bob Hallinan, a spokesperson for the hospital, confirmed the hiring late Thursday afternoon.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:27 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Kansas Suspends Voluntary Admissions To Osawatomie State Hospital

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has suspended voluntary admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital, one of the state’s two inpatient facilities for people with serious mental illnesses.

The decision, according to a memo sent to the state’s 26 community mental health centers late Tuesday afternoon, was driven by “ongoing and critical census challenges” at the state hospital. The memo also outlined procedures for handling patients who are involuntarily admitted.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:05 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Two Kansas Foster Care Program Officials Are Out

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families on Tuesday said that Deputy Secretary Kathe Decker and Prevention and Protection Services Director Brian Dempsey have left the agency.

Anna Pilato, director of the department’s divisions for strategic development and community and faith-based initiatives, is due to leave later this month.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:53 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Kansas, Missouri Smoking Rates Remain Above National Average

Credit Creative Commons-Pixabay

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week show that between 2005 and 2013, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoked declined from almost 21 percent to slightly less than 18 percent.

That’s the lowest percentage since the CDC began keeping tobacco use records in 1965.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:37 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Selzer Elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner

Ken Selzer, a Leawood accountant, won the race for Kansas Insurance Commissioner.
Credit File photo


Ken Selzer, a conservative Republican who supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Kansas’ participation in a multi-state compact designed to allow member states to take control of their Medicare programs, has been elected Kansas insurance commissioner.

Selzer, 61, defeated Dennis Anderson, a Democrat, in the general election Tuesday.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:41 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Brownback Policies Cutting Welfare Rolls But Not Poverty Rate

Poverty is a political issue in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback campaigned in 2010 on a platform that included as one of its main goals reducing childhood poverty.  And since taking office, he has aggressively pursued that goal. But he’s done it his way.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:50 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

KDHE Surveyors Sent To Osawatomie State Hospital

State officials on Wednesday confirmed reports that surveyors with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment were dispatched last week to Osawatomie State Hospital, and that the surveyors in turn summoned the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Sara Belfry, a KDHE spokesperson, said the nature of the surveyors’ concerns will not be made public until after survey findings are reviewed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a process that’s likely to take several days.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:56 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Groups Agree Overuse Of Antipsychotic Drugs An Issue In Kansas Nursing Homes

The Kansas Health Care Association and Kansas Advocates for Better Care don’t usually see eye to eye on much.

KHCA, which represents the state’s for-profit nursing homes, is quick to argue against passing laws that might increase their costs or add to their regulatory burden.

KABC typically says the state doesn’t do enough to improve conditions in poor-performing nursing homes and advocates for tighter regulation.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:38 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

New Clinic Serves Adult Survivors Of Childhood Cancer

The Midwest Cancer Alliance on Tuesday announced the formal opening of a clinic designed especially for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

“This program helps give pediatric cancer survivors access to long-term care tailored to their unique needs," Dr. Becky Lowry, the new clinic’s medical director, said in a prepared statement.

Survivors of childhood cancer, she said, often are prone to secondary cancers, fertility issues, cardiovascular disease, weakened immune systems and endocrine problems.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:57 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

KanCare Initiative Concerns Parents Of Developmentally Disabled Adults

Nearly 200 parents, case workers, service providers and state officials attended a town hall meeting last week at Overland Park Christian Church, where a new health home initiative for developmentally disabled Kansans was discussed.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service



Parents of adult children with developmental disabilities say state officials are breaking a pledge made during negotiations last year that led legislators to include Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services for the developmentally disabled in the state's KanCare program.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:28 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

State Scrutiny Of Kansas Early Head Start Programs Raises Concerns

Brenda Jones, assistant teacher, works with Camila Meza-Luna, 2, and Jason Spencer, 2, in a classroom at TOP Early Learning Center in Wichita, part of the Child Start program. Child Start officials decided not to reapply for nearly $1 million in Early Head Start funding because of difficulties dealing with a state agency.
Credit Kevin Brown


One of Kansas’ largest early childhood development programs has decided not to reapply for nearly $1 million in Early Head Start funding because of difficulties dealing with a state agency.

“This wasn’t something we wanted to do,” says Teresa Rupp, longtime executive director at Child Start, a Wichita-based program that provides Head Start and Early Head Start services for 981 low-income children in Butler, Cowley, Sedgwick and Sumner counties.

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Heartland Health Monitor
6:38 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Crisis Intervention Center To Open In Topeka

The community mental health center in Topeka on Thursday will formally open a 26-bed crisis intervention center that’s expected to lead to fewer mentally ill adults being referred to Osawatomie State Hospital or ending up in jail.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:14 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Ruling On In-Home Medicaid Services Raises Concerns

Jason Gallagher and his assistant, Tiffany Lentz, go through their morning routine at Gallagher's home in Overland Park. Lentz is one of five full- and part-time workers who provide in-home services for Gallagher.
Credit Bridgit Bowden / KCPT


Karen Barezinsky is looking for an answer to what she says is a simple question: Are the people who run Kansas’ Medicaid program planning to cut the supports she and her husband use to keep her son, Ray Santin, who’s paralyzed from his neck down, out of a nursing home?

“I can’t find out anything,” says Karen, 62, who lives in Scranton, Kan., with her husband and son. “I leave messages with Ray’s case manager, but nobody calls me back.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:44 am
Fri September 19, 2014

KDADS Identifies 11 Communities With Greater Mental Health Needs

Lea Taylor, an assistant secretary for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, says KDADS has been working with officials in Kansas communities that appear to have above-average numbers of residents with mental illness.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service


A Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services official said Thursday that the agency has identified 11 communities that appear to be referring inordinate numbers of patients to the state hospitals for mentally ill or have above-average numbers of inmates in the state’s correctional systems who are known to be mentally ill.

“We’ve been going out and meeting with people in those communities,” said KDADS Assistant Secretary Lea Taylor, addressing a statewide conference in Lawrence on law enforcement training and mental health crises.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:37 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Governor's Office Declines To Support Early Childhood Grant

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is not ready to support the Kansas Children’s Cabinet’s attempt to win a federal grant aimed at bolstering early childhood education.

The governor’s decision to withhold support for the grant application was explained to members of Children's Cabinet in a memo last week from Janice Smith, the group’s executive director.

Smith wrote that on Sept. 11, Brownback administration officials let her know that it would be “unwise to move forward” in applying for a Preschool Development Grant without first conferring with the Kansas Legislature.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:14 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Breastfeeding Advocates To Meet In Wichita

Later this month, breastfeeding advocates from across Kansas will gather in Wichita for a daylong summit on how best to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 15 percent of Kansas infants are breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months,” says Katie Ross, program officer with the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (UMHMF). “That’s pretty low compared to a lot of other states.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:18 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Ottawa Shooting Points Up Need For Police Training To Handle The Mentally Ill

James Green, a second cousin of Joseph Jennings, lights a candle that’s part of a curbside memorial created by Jennings’ friends and family members near the Orscheln Farm & Home store in Ottawa, Kan.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service


Out of the 8,000 full- and part-time law enforcement officers in Kansas, only 1 in 4 have been trained to handle crisis calls involving the mentally ill.

Records show that 80 percent of the nearly 1,800 trained officers work in four high-population counties: Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte.

The other 20 percent — about 360 officers — are spread across police and sheriff’s departments in the remaining 101 counties.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:17 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Kansas Mental Health System Under Increasing Stress

The patient count at Osawatomie State Hospital is at its highest point in 10 years.
Credit www.kansasmemory.org / Kansas State Historical Society


One day last month, Osawatomie State Hospital had 254 patients in its care — almost 50 more than its optimal capacity.

The overcrowded conditions forced a few dozen patients, all of them coping with a serious mental illness and likely a danger to themselves or others, to be triple-bunked in rooms meant for two.

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