Mike Sherry

Reporter, Heartland Health Monitor

Mike Sherry is a reporter for the Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT television, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. HHM is a reporting collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, Kan., KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan.

Mike spent the first chunk of his career as a journalistic nomad. He averaged one move a year in the nearly two decades between college and his homecoming in 2003 to work for The Kansas City Star. Journalism has taught him that truth is stranger than fiction. He once covered a story where deputies arrested a groom at his wedding reception for failing to pay child support from a previous marriage.

In his younger days, Mike rode his bike across Iowa and backpacked through Asia. Now, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Special interests have long eyed Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax as a potential pot of gold, if only voters would agree to hike the 17-cent-per-pack levy and direct the windfall to health and education programs.

Yet tax-hike advocates have failed narrowly at the polls three times going back to 2002, and the landscape is not much different as another campaign girds for battle next year.

United Community Services of Johnson County

Johnson County social service providers should target more services to residents who don’t have children, including low-income couples and at-risk young adults, according to a nonprofit that supports social service agencies in the county.

At its annual Human Service Summit Tuesday, officials of United Community Services of Johnson County (UCS) said public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families skew towards families with young children.

Submitted photo

The University of Kansas Hospital is expanding a four-year-old relationship with Marillac, a youth behavioral health provider in Overland Park.

The hospital announced Thursday that, starting June 22, it will take over management of Marillac’s inpatient facility at 8000 W. 127th St. The facility will operate as The University of Kansas Hospital – Marillac Campus.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Health advocates are partnering with students and faculty at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design and Planning to help Wyandotte County residents make their communities more conducive to healthy living.

The Community Health Council of Wyandotte County (CHC) is leading the effort with a four-year, $1.6 million grant from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program aimed at reducing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke in communities across the country.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas City-area business leaders and health executives are kicking off an effort to make mental health a priority in the workplace.

On Friday, the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care (MACHC) introduced the Right Direction Initiative, a free, ready-to-use communication campaign for businesses that want to improve the mental health of their employees.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Discussions about the dangers of the human papillomavirus (HPV) tend to focus on the risks it poses for cervical cancer.

But as physicians and one local survivor emphasized in a discussion after the screening of a documentary shown Wednesday in Kansas City, HPV is not only a danger to women.

“It is under-recognized as a disease of males,” said Dr. Terance Tsue, a head and neck surgeon and physician-in-chief at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Johnson County

Johnson County was one of four communities nationwide introduced Tuesday as initial participants in a broad effort aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in local jails.

Dubbed “Stepping Up,” the initiative is a combined effort of the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation.

The other participants are Washington D.C., Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Sacramento, California.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

If all it took were a few shots to virtually eliminate the chances of contracting one type of cancer, you’d think at-risk people would be lining up for treatment in droves.

There is, in fact, a three-dose regimen that experts say essentially prevents cervical cancer, which is newly diagnosed in more than 12,000 American women a year and kills about 4,000.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Danette K. Wilson took over as president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City in January, taking the reins from David Gentile, who stepped down for health reasons.

Blue KC provides health coverage to more than one million residents in the greater Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and 30 counties in northwest Missouri.

Wilson has been with Blue KC for more than 25 years, serving in many capacities, including as chief marketing officer.

AP Photo

The public should expect to see significant evolutions in Medicare and Medicaid in coming years, a national health care expert told a Kansas City audience Friday.

Genevieve M. Kenney of the Urban Institute said an inevitable component of Medicare’s need to save money will be talk about raising the eligibility age. The current age of eligibility is 65, but life expectancy has increased since enactment of the program 50 years ago.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Over a span of a dozen years, the University of Kansas Cancer Center estimates that philanthropists, taxpayers and other funders will plow about $1.3 billion into its effort to become one of the nation’s most elite cancer-fighting institutions.

In fact, nearly half that sum is already out the door, spent mostly in the run-up to the 2012 announcement that the KU Cancer Center had become the only institution within hundreds of miles to earn recognition through the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

An agreement between the University of Kansas and Children’s Mercy will strengthen research, education and clinical ties between the institutions in oncology and beyond, officials said Wednesday at a signing ceremony.

“This just makes so much sense,” said Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC). “It also is the best thing for our kids, and that is what has to drive all of this.”

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Children’s Mercy Hospital said late Monday that it has joined a consortium organized through the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Children’s Mercy joins the University of Kansas and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo., as the third member of the NCI Consortium, according to Children’s Mercy spokeswoman Melissa Novak.

The institutions will provide more details at a news conference Wednesday at Children’s Mercy, she said.

Todd Feeback / KCPT

The 40-mile stretch of highway between Olathe, Kansas, and Liberty, Missouri, is a key artery in the region’s health care system, bookended by community hospitals and passing a few more medical centers along the way.

Yet this part of Interstate 35 is quickly becoming something more: a cancer corridor, dotted with expanding oncology programs and bordering even more in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, and in the suburbs on both sides of the state line.

Courtesy / KCU

The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) said Friday that it plans to open a campus in Joplin, Mo., with the capacity to graduate 150 doctors a year.

The development comes through a collaboration between KCU, located at 1750 Independence Ave., Mercy Hospital Joplin, Freeman Health System, the city of Joplin and philanthropic leadership from Joplin area, according to a news release.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Yahye Mohamed wants to be a surgeon when he grows up, but the shoe was on the other foot Monday when he attended a health fair at his public housing complex in Kansas City, Mo.

Or, to be more precise, some hands were in his mouth.

Shortly after he hopped aboard Truman Medical Centers’ mobile dental bus, parked at the Chouteau Courts development at 586 Tracy Ave., Yahye, 10, was in an exam chair.

The experience left the Garfield Elementary fourth-grader with mixed feelings.

Paul Sableman / Creative Commons-Flickr

The University of Kansas Hospital is opening what hospital officials say is the first urgent care clinic in the downtown core of Kansas City, Mo.

Set to open on Monday, the clinic will be housed in the lobby of the Sprint Center, next to the College Basketball Experience.

In a news release, KU Hospital said the decision to open a clinic downtown was driven by the growing number of people working and living there.

Available to patients older than 6 months, the clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional hours might be added.

Johnson County Emergency Medical Services System

Six area hospitals have signed on to become paying partners in a Johnson County program aimed at providing the high-quality care to patients in need of emergency services.

Under an inter-local agreement approved Thursday by the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, the hospitals will contribute nearly $130,000 annually to the Medical Director Program.

The program has an annual budget of about $350,000. The hospitals’ contributions will replace an operating subsidy from the county.

Todd Feeback / Heartland Health Monitor

For years, Truman Medical Centers’ chemotherapy unit sat in an open room located in an unrenovated portion of its mid-1970s hospital near downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Only a few feet separated each chemotherapy patient – seated in recliners next to their IV poles – and the ground-floor pharmacy sat several stories below the oncology unit.

Kansas City, Mo., officials said Friday that the city is one of 15 finalists nationwide for the Culture of Health prize conferred annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a highly regarded health foundation based in Princeton, N.J.

The recognition, Mayor Sly James said in a news release, “acknowledges sustained and strategically focused efforts of the Health Department and several others in the entire Kansas City health provider community."

St. Joseph Medical Center

The new owner of four Kansas City-area hospitals announced it had filled several executive positions.

Prime Healthcare Services, which is based in Ontario, Calif., said that Robert J. Erickson has been named CEO of St. Joseph Medical Center in south Kansas City, Mo. Erickson was president and CEO of St. Francis Health Center in Topeka for the previous five years.

Erickson replaces Mike Dorsey. A hospital spokeswoman said Dorsey decided not to stay on after the sale to Prime. She said Dorsey did not say anything about his future plans.

St. Joseph Medical Center

A California-based hospital company said Friday it had completed its acquisition of St. Joseph Medical Center in south Kansas City, Mo., and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs, Mo.

Prime Healthcare Services purchased the hospitals from Ascension Health, which operated the hospitals through Kansas City-based Carondelet Health. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The two acute-care hospitals have 456 beds and 900 physicians on staff combined.

 

The state board that oversees Kansas’ public colleges and universities on Wednesday endorsed an effort by the University of Kansas Cancer Center to earn the highest level of recognition from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The Kansas Board of Regents backed the initiative by approving a resolution that said, in part, that the cancer center “would substantially improve cancer research and treatment opportunities for Kansans” by earning the enhanced designation.

HCA Midwest Health

 

HCA Midwest Health, the region’s largest health system, announced Wednesday that it plans to open a comprehensive cancer center near Centerpoint Medical Center, the company’s hospital in Independence, Mo.

HCA will house the center in a 17,000-square-foot building near Centerpoint, according to a system spokeswoman. HCA purchased the building, a former furniture store, in 2012.

Saint Luke’s and Liberty hospitals on Monday announced an agreement to partner on the provision of cancer care.

According to a news release, the hospitals are developing a program that will:

HMN Architects and Pixel Foundry

 

Olathe Medical Center on Friday announced the largest expansion in the hospital’s six-decade history, a cradle-to-grave project that calls for new buildings for obstetrics and patients with dementia.

With an estimated price tag of more than $100 million, including buildings and equipment, the project also calls for construction of a new cancer center and expansion of the hospital’s cardiovascular center.

Mark McDonald / Children's Mercy Hospital

 

 

Children’s Mercy Hospital has a medical mystery on its hands.

Doctors there are trying to figure out what caused a severe neurologic condition between mid-September and early October in three patients, including a 13-year-old from Joplin, Mo.

And like other researchers around the country, they’re trying to figure out if the condition – which the medical community has termed acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) – is related to the recent nationwide outbreak of a polio-like virus called enterovirus D68, or EV-D68.

Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

Faced with a surprise pregnancy – and then feeling the pressure of transitioning from an independent woman to a new mom – Erica Hardin struggled mentally and financially after the birth of her daughter.

Much to her relief, Kansas City had a program aimed at reducing disparities in infant mortality and post-birth complications between minorities and the general population.

Known as Healthy Start, home visits through the program provided Hardin with everything from moral support to diapers and instructions on applying for food stamps.

Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center

 

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City will help three Kansas City safety net clinics share patient data electronically with providers throughout Missouri.

The foundation said in a news release Monday that it’s paying $375,000 to hook up Swope Health System, Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center and KC CARE Clinic to Missouri Health Connection (MHC).

The funding will also help another Kansas City nonprofit, Artists Helping the Homeless, make referrals to hospitals and clinics via encrypted emails.

Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

When Jennifer Vaughn delivered identical twin girls at Saint Luke’s East Hospital last week, she and her husband were not that surprised – and it wasn’t just because of the sonograms or because she had dreamt of having twins even before the ultrasounds.

“My husband and I have always been fascinated with twins,” Vaughn said Thursday at the Lee’s Summit, Mo., hospital, where she was holding Brooke and Peyton Koehler, both of whom weighed less than 5 pounds at birth. “I guess it was meant to be.”

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