Mike Sherry

Reporter, Heartland Health Monitor

Mike Sherry reports for the Heartland Health Monitor team, a reporting collaboration among KCUR Public Media, KCPT Public Television and KHI News Service. He is based at the Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT.

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.

Heartland Health Monitor
4:52 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Proposal To Raise Missouri’s Cigarette Tax Would Fund Children’s Initiatives

Credit Creative Commons-Pixabay

 

A business-led group based in Kansas City, Mo., is leading an effort to quadruple Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and direct the proceeds to early childhood health and education programs.

Organizers of the “Raise Your Hand for Kids” campaign on Friday outlined their plan for a statewide ballot initiative to an audience of about 100 business, education, health and early-childhood leaders at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The campaign aims to increase Missouri’s cigarette tax from 17 cents to 67 cents a pack.

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Government
5:50 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Brownback Announces Cuts To Close Budget Gap

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced Tuesday he will use his power of allotments to make fee transfers and spending cuts to close a $280 million budget gap in the current fiscal year.

Brownback said in a prepared statement that the allotments come from recommendations made by budget director Shawn Sullivan.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:14 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Costs May Limit Use Of Meningitis B Vaccine

Financial considerations might influence use of a newly approved vaccine targeted at a strain of bacterial meningitis that often strikes college campuses, according to speakers at a conference Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., sponsored by the Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC).

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:21 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Denver Company To Open Eating Disorder Facility In Kansas City

Tanja Haaland is the program director of the Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

A highly regarded eating-disorder treatment center is about to make the Kansas City area its first site outside of its home state of Colorado, a development local clinicians said would help fill a critical gap in services here.

The Eating Disorder Center of Denver expects to open its partial hospitalization program on Dec. 29, according to local program director Tanja Haaland. The company is renovating 5,400 square feet of space in the lower level of an office building near Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Merriam, Kan.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:55 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Kansas City Groups Target Hard-To-Reach For Health Insurance

Informational tables lined the entry hallway at a recent LGBT health fair held in Kansas City, Mo. The exhibits continued around the corner.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

As the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period began Saturday, for-profit and non-profit groups ramped up efforts to assist populations that have proven hard to reach.

At events in and around Kansas City, counselors, insurance brokers and insurance companies held public education events and free health fairs to reach the uninsured and underinsured among minority populations and apprise them of their coverage options. 

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:24 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Children’s Mercy Adds Heart Transplants To Cardiac Program

Dr. Aliessa Barnes, medical director of the heart transplant program and Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.
Credit Courtesy

Over the years, physicians at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics have developed substantial expertise in caring for patients before and after they receive heart transplants.

But now the hospital can provide the full spectrum of care to these children, following approval last week for it to perform such transplants itself.

The go-ahead came from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a nonprofit group that oversees organ allocation and transplant programs under contract with the federal government.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:34 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Health Exec Notes Low-Tech Success At Cerner High-Tech Confab

Cerner Corp., the high-tech company based in North Kansas City, Mo., may be at the forefront of the electronic health records industry, but at its annual health conference Monday, a behavioral health executive said innovations in health care don’t necessarily have to be as advanced as the solutions developed by Cerner.

Speaking on a panel that addressed coordinating care across multiple platforms, Karen Suddath of Wyandot Inc. said her organization had improved its coordination of care simply by checking a website every morning for booking records at the local jail.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:21 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Kansas City Conferees Tackle Language Of Health Care

Organizers of a health literacy summit in Kansas City, Mo., offered a range of materials to attendees.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

As reformers work on making the U.S. health care system more efficient, they’re also looking to improve communication with consumers – whether it’s ensuring they understand the nuances of insurance or grasping instructions from a doctor.

The concept is known as “health literacy,” and the notion extends beyond the written or spoken word, Dan Reus, a St. Louis business consultant, argued Friday at a health literacy summit in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

People also need to understand the ever-increasing electronic data that make up their medical records, he said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:10 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Sidelined Player Steps Up Game In Concussion Awareness Effort

Kylee Bliss, 18, has formed a nonprofit foundation to raise awareness about and spur research into post-concussion syndrome after sustaining life-altering concussions herself.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

A talented athlete, Kylee Bliss might have been a scholarship basketball player at a small college.

As a sophomore point guard at Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan., she practiced hard and had a real feel for the game. That changed after she sustained two concussions on the court in the span of eight weeks nearly three years ago.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:33 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Eating Disorders: They Afflict Men Too

On most days, Jon Smith takes a lunchtime walk on a route from his data supervisor job in Overland Park. The 23-year-old Lenexa man maintains an active lifestyle to stay fit, having dropped a running regimen where he logged as many as 20 miles a day during his struggles with an eating disorder.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

At one point when he was in college at Kansas State University, Jon Smith would jog as many as 20 miles a day.

“If I wasn’t in the library and not in class,” he says, “I was running.”

But Smith was far from healthy.

His over-the-top regimen was a manifestation of an eating disorder known as purge-type anorexia, hints of which first surfaced when weight gain from migraine medication made Smith a pudgy fifth-grader. His training obsession began two years later during preparations for the Junior Olympics.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:32 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Eating Disorders And Insurance: A Fraught Combination

Dr. Gregg Laiben, medical director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, says patients must be kept in the highest level of care for as long as they need it.

The business day was ticking away as Sarah Wilcher waited on the phone.

She was an hour into a desperate protest of an insurance decision about her seriously ill daughter, Piper. By around 5:10 p.m., she realized everybody was gone.

“They just left me on hold,” Wilcher recalled recently of that day four years ago.

RELATED STORY: As Sufferers Battle Eating Disorders, Efforts Underway To Reopen Clinic

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:30 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

As Sufferers Battle Eating Disorders, Efforts Underway To Reopen Clinic

The disorder is so powerful that, even though the body is wasting away, patients in intensive-care sometimes rip out feeding lines or hide the peanut butter provided by staff in their armpits.

Known as anorexia nervosa, the condition is a process of self-starvation – and, researchers say, the deadliest of all psychiatric disorders. Some estimates put the mortality rate at 20 percent.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:15 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

California Company Finalizes Agreement To Buy Two KC-Area Hospitals

St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., pictured here, is one of several local Catholic hospitals that would be owned by Prime Healthcare Services of California.
Credit St. Joseph Medical Center

The operator of two local Catholic hospitals has finalized their sale to a for-profit company based in Ontario, Calif.

Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic health system, said in a statement Tuesday that it had reached a definitive agreement to sell St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs to Prime Healthcare Services. The two hospitals operate through Kansas City-based Carondelet Health.

Terms of the deal, which was first announced in July, were not disclosed, and the deal remains subject to regulatory approval.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Longtime Leader Leaving Kansas Substance Abuse Group

Dalyn Schmitt is stepping down as head of Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center in Roeland Park, Kan.

 

A Roeland Park-based substance abuse center announced Monday that its founder and CEO will step down at the end of the year.

The nonprofit Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center (RADAC) said Dalyn Schmitt would hand the reins to Jason Hess, who has been with the organization since 2001 and currently serves as executive director.

According to a news release, Schmitt founded Heartland RADAC in 1998.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:24 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Forum Develops A Healthy To-Do List For Kansas City Area

Sherry Norfleet, of Harrisonville, Mo., participated in a stretching exercise during a break at a health care forum Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

The Kansas City of the future would be a place where people have affordable medical care, policymakers work with the community on health issues and residents suffer less from chronic diseases and violence.

That, at any rate, is the consensus that emerged Saturday at a forum in Kansas City, Mo.

And it was just the start of what participants said a vigorous metropolitan area should look like in the next decade.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:04 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Navigators Share Strategies For Obamacare Enrollment

Bill Brock, an application counselor with Swope Health Services in Kansas City, Mo., made a point at a Thursday forum on insurance coverage through the health reform law. The secret to getting people signed up, he said, is 'being compassionate with each and every individual. Then, they allow you to help them.'
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

Meridith Berry and her team learned a valuable lesson at an event where they were encouraging Hispanics to purchase coverage through the health insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act: don’t use green card stock.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:48 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Plans For ‘Healthy Campus’ In KCK Move Forward

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., is unveiling this master plan for the development of a 'healthy campus' west of downtown Kansas City, Kan.
Credit Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland on Thursday unveiled an initiative to ensure that all residents can use a proposed new community center regardless of their financial circumstances.

Holland announced the initiative as part of a community forum for a “healthy campus” proposed for an urban site just west of downtown Kansas City, Kan.

A proposal championed by Holland, the healthy campus is a proposed mixed-use development that would revolve around Big Eleven Lake, which is bounded by 10th and 11th streets between State Avenue and Washington Boulevard.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:25 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

In Kansas, A New Approach To Heart Disease, Stroke

A National Rural Health Association Conference in Kansas City, Mo., included a number of break-out sessions.
Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

A new health care partnership, looked upon as a potential model for the rest of the country, is taking direct aim at heart disease and stroke in northwest Kansas.

The federally funded initiative - the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative — encompasses the University of Kansas Hospital along with 13 rural health centers and hospitals, including Hays Medical Center. Heart disease and stroke are responsible for about 20 percent of the deaths in the state.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:22 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Johnson County Names DeWeese As Mental Health Director

Johnson County announced Thursday that it has hired a new director for its mental health center.

The new hire is Tim DeWeese, a longtime staff member of the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

For nearly the past two years, DeWeese has served as director of clinical services, overseeing the largest operating division of the center. He has also served the center as director of community support services and as a crisis case-management team leader.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:18 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Fed Report: More Insurers To Sell Obamacare Plans In Missouri and Kansas In 2015

Consumers in Missouri and Kansas should see more companies offering coverage through the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:43 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Olathe Medical Center Opens Facility For Final Stage Of Life

A new inpatient hospice that opened Wednesday at Olathe Medical Center features a screened-in porch. It faces west "so it gets beautiful sunsets in here," said Sally Lundy, director of hospice and home health for the medical center.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

Olathe Medical Center officials say they have added a building block to their vision of providing cradle-to-grave care.

On Wednesday, in front of a crowd of about 300 donors, employees and other well-wishers, the hospital officially opened a freestanding inpatient hospice on its land at Interstate 35 and 151st Street.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:17 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Missouri Lawmakers Approve Sales Tax Exemption For Farmers Markets

Vegetables and other products sold at farmer's markets in Missouri will be exempt from sales tax, after a bill veto was overridden by the House and Senate.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Products sold at Missouri farmers markets will be exempt from sales taxes following a veto override by the Republican-led Legislature.

The bill was among a slew of last-minute tax-exemption measures that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, had vetoed earlier this year as fiscally irresponsible. Republicans said some merely clarified state policy and others helped the state remain economically competitive.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:30 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Early Signs Show Promise For Rainbow Mental Health Facility, Officials Say

Mattresses lined the walls of the sobering unit shortly after the Rainbow Mental Health Facility reopened in Kansas City, Kan., in April.
Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

 

A reconstituted mental health facility in Kansas City, Kan., has been a financial and therapeutic success in its first five months of operation, officials involved in the transition said Wednesday.

“It’s great news so far,” said Kari Bruffett, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), “and I think it’s only going to get better.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:22 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Fresh Food Tax Exemption On The Table For Missouri Lawmakers

Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday will attempt to override more than 30 bills vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon over the summer.
Credit Danielle Kellogg / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

Missouri lawmakers might sweeten the pot for consumers who want to eat healthy and for the growers who provide the food.

Legislators return to Jefferson City today to reconsider nearly three dozen measures that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed in this year’s regular session. The veto session could extend to Friday.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:38 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Physician Payment Data Puts Costly Eye Treatments Under The Microscope

Dr. Ajay Singh, a retina specialist at the University of Kansas Eye Clinic in Prairie Village, prepares to inject Phyllis Johnson of Topeka with a drug that treats a condition where abnormal blood vessels leak fluid or blood into the region of the macula, which is in the center of the retina.
Credit Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

Spritzing perfume is how Judy Johnson realized her eyesight had gone bad.

At one point, diabetes had worsened her vision so much that the 69-year-old Lansing, Kan., resident had to squirt out a puff of her favorite scent just to find the opening in the mister.

“I looked at it this morning,” Johnson said Wednesday, “and I could see the hole.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:34 am
Fri August 15, 2014

New Bus Route Addresses Health Needs Of KCK Residents

Credit Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

It was nearly a decade ago that the Rosedale Development Association, a nonprofit community improvement corporation, identified lack of transportation as a significant barrier for neighborhood residents who wanted better access to medical care, grocery stores and other basic services.

The feedback came via a community-needs survey conducted by a volunteer working with the organization, said Erin Stryka, program manager of the association’s Rosedale Healthy Kids program.

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