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.

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is nearing a milestone in its march toward opening Missouri’s first new medical school in four decades, with a fundraising campaign for its Joplin campus now entering the home stretch.

The Joplin-area committee running the campaign has commitments for more than 80 percent of the $30 million it pledged for the medical school, and the leader of the campaign says it’s on track to complete the task by the end of the year.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Supporters of banning the sale of cigarettes to teens and young adults in the Kansas City area may be close to landing their first major coup.

On Monday night, a legislative committee of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, one of the region’s largest municipalities, endorsed revising its legal code to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21. The current age under state law is 18.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Business and health leaders on Thursday announced an ambitious initiative to convince elected officials in the dozens of municipalities throughout the Kansas City area to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Spearheaded by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, “Tobacco 21 | KC” aims to build on a movement that now counts nearly 100 communities around the country and the state of Hawaii that have made 21 the legal age for purchasing tobacco products.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

The sale of two Kansas City-area hospitals will generate $20 million in the next decade to help operate a new mental health crisis center on the city’s East Side, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said Wednesday.

Koster made the announcement while standing outside the state office building at the corner of 12th Street and Prospect Avenue that will house the 16-bed Kansas City Area Adult Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Jackson and Clay counties are hoping to join a handful of Missouri municipalities that have enacted a local tax to fund services for at-risk children and youth.

The Jackson-Clay Children’s Services Fund Committee wants to persuade voters to enact a quarter-cent sales tax that the committee estimates could generate as much as $40 million in both counties combined for children up to age 19.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

After nearly two years of work, proponents of establishing a mental health crisis center in Kansas City’s urban core may be only weeks away from sealing a deal that involves a lot of moving parts.

“You can see the stars aligning,” said Kansas City Councilman Scott Wagner, a member of an informal coalition working since late 2013 to open the facility, which would stabilize individuals so they could be referred for other medical or behavioral health services.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:39 p.m. and at 4:39 p.m.  

Truman Medical Centers said it is closing its behavioral health emergency department effective immediately and will transfer current patients to the hospital’s inpatient facility or to another psychiatric facility.

Truman CEO Charlie Shields said in a telephone interview that the move came after state and federal regulators made it clear the department needed “to look and operate as if it’s an emergency department in a regular hospital, and that’s fairly challenging for us.”

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City invited Kathleen Sebelius to help it celebrate its first decade of grant making, but the woman who has served as both U.S. health secretary and Kansas governor came armed with a big idea for the next decennial.

“I think the challenge over the next 10 years is: How do you make Kansas City the healthiest region in the country?” Sebelius said at the foundation’s Tuesday luncheon in Kansas City. “I think that is a very reasonable goal. I don’t think that is at all out of reach.”

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

This year marks historic anniversaries for several pieces of landmark legislation, including Medicare and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It’s also the 50th anniversary of another significant program, Head Start, which was launched as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

The program promotes school readiness for children in low-income families by offering educational, nutritional, health, social and other services.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

When Dr. David Zamierowski was training as a physician in the 1960s, he tried out his new skills on living patients.

“I am so grateful to those poor souls, who knew it was my first time, but graciously allowed me to practice on them,” Zamierowski said Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Kansas Medical Center’s new health education building.

“But in the back of my mind, I always knew there had to be a better way, and when I first saw simulation, I realized that this was the answer.”

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 After opposing efforts to hike the state’s cigarette tax for more than a decade, Missouri convenience stores are now pushing two tobacco-increase plans, either of which they said would add $800 million to state coffers within a decade of their enactment.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on Monday filed paperwork seeking state authorization to place their plans on the ballot in November 2016. The plans include roll-back language that could send the language to court if approved by voters.

“We are sick of being on the defensive when it comes to this issue,” says Ron Leone, the association’s executive director.

Executive Office of the President of the United States

Advocates of government-sponsored health care gathered Thursday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, to mark the anniversary of legislation that’s both a local story and a milestone for medical care in the United States.

Fifty years ago, on the same stage where speakers sat, President Lyndon Johnson signed the law establishing Medicare and Medicaid, vastly expanding insurance protections for the elderly and for low-income Americans.

Dave Burkhardt / The Hale Center for Journalism

After Ashley Anderson gave birth to her daughter, Jade Marie, the nurses placed the little girl on her mom’s chest.

She says she remembers her newborn looking serene, with delicate lashes, her eyes gently closed.

Something as simple as schoolyard gates can play a role in improving the health of low-income communities.

At least that’s what activists in California’s San Joaquin Valley found, according to Genoveva Islas, director of Cultiva La Salud, a Fresno-based organization whose name means “cultivate health” in Spanish.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Advocates for expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Americans must refine their strategies to win over lawmakers in states such as Missouri and Kansas, which have resisted efforts to loosen eligibility requirements.

That was the message Saturday during a panel discussion at the National Council of La Raza annual conference, which is being held at the Kansas City Convention Center.

“I would say it is going to take more than what we have been doing,” said Laura Guerra-Cardus, associate director of the Children’s Defense Fund in Texas.

Saint Luke's Health System

A Saint Luke’s Heath System executive is moving from Overland Park to the Country Club Plaza to take over as CEO of Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.

Jani Johnson, who has been CEO of Saint Luke’s South Hospital since 2012, will assume her new role on July 27 in a move tutiveshat mirrors the career path of the woman she is succeeding.

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.”

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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.