Health | KCUR

Health

KCUR's health team focuses on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas. Working with journalists at other public media stations and news outlets, reporters Dan Margolies and Alex Smith strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Hey Paul Studios / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: As rates increase among children in Kansas City, lead poisoning remains a persistent concern.

It's been decades since companies stopped adding lead to things like paint or gasoline, but the dangers posed by lead poisoning are still affecting thousands of lives throughout the metro area. We learned why it's so hard to get rid of lead contamination in old homes and businesses, and what you can do to minimize your risk.

Blue Valley Hospital opened in 2010 and provides weight-loss surgery and other medical services.

An Overland Park hospital that specializes in weight-loss surgery is suing government health officials after they cut off its participation in Medicare.

File photo

The owner and operator of 15 Kansas nursing homes has consented to be placed in receivership after defaulting on payments to vendors and failing to meet payroll.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck has been appointed receiver and will oversee operations of the homes, which are scattered across the state.

The owner, Skyline Health Care LLC of Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, previously acknowledged that it had insufficient funds to pay basic utilities and food service vendors.

Alissa Eckert / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Update, April 19: This story includes newly identified cases and exposure sites (previously identified exposure sites and dates that are now past the time for symptoms to develop have been removed).

Eighteen measles cases have now been identified in Johnson, Linn and Miami counties since March 8, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

The same lab billing arrangement put in place at a small, rural hospital in Unionville, Missouri, is the subject of a federal lawsuit in Georgia that calls it a fraudulent scheme designed to enrich its architects.

The lawsuit, filed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, alleges that since August 2016, a 49-bed hospital in rural north Georgia has billed it more than $174 million for lab tests Blue Cross did not agree to pay for.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As he fights to retain control of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, Jorge Perez’s woes continue to pile up at other rural hospitals where he was once hailed as a hero.

Last month, in the second of a three-part series, CBS News aired a piece about Empower, a Perez-run company whose affiliates have been involved in many of the rural hospital takeovers orchestrated by Perez and his associates.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A battle royale has erupted in tiny Unionville, Missouri, over the town’s endangered community hospital.

Trustees of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in the north central community are trying to get rid of the company that took over the ailing institution in 2016 and then ran more than $90 million in questionable lab billings through the hospital.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

The firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin means uncertainty for the VA’s pending $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to modernize the sprawling agency’s electronic health records system.

Health Data Management, an industry publication, reports that Shulkin’s ouster came as the VA was finalizing negotiations with Cerner.

Creative Commons

Missouri will have to cough up more than $300,000 in attorney's fees after losing a case over a state law barring insurance navigators from giving advice about health plans.

Although he sliced about $128,000 from the bill, U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith ruled that Missouri must pay the legal fees of the victorious plaintiffs.

Jannis Evans and Devin Hursey both work in the HIV treatment and prevention field and have served on committees advocating for people with HIV in Missouri and across the country.

They sat down at this month’s Legislative Advocacy Day sponsored by the Missouri HIV Justice Coalition where they both were advocating for changes to Missouri’s HIV criminal laws, and they spoke about some of the reasons HIV impacts communities of color at a higher rate.  

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Alissa Eckert / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Segment 1:  Recent local cases of the highly-contagious virus have some parents on edge.

With at least eight recently-reported cases of measles in Johnson County, Kansas, many parents want to do everything they can to ensure their little ones aren't at risk. Today, we got advice for limiting a child's exposure to the virus, even if they're not yet old enough to be vaccinated against it.

Wikimedia - Creative Commons

Missouri has an unusually high number of hospitals with medical and employer practices that accommodate the needs of LGBTQ individuals, according to a new report from a national advocacy organization.

The Healthcare Equality Index, released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, names 14 Missouri hospitals as “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leaders.” That puts Missouri 8th in the nation for the number of such hospitals.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Once a month, a recording studio in the basement of the Lawrence, Kansas, public library opens for a jam session.

There are no guitars or drum sets, though.

The players make music with motion-detecting computers that allow anyone – regardless of physical or developmental ability – to become composers.

The jams are an opportunity for creativity and healing, organizers say.

File photo

This story was updated at 5:26 p.m. to include the comments of Planned Parenthood Great Plains' regional director of public policy. 

The state of Kansas wants the United States Supreme Court to review a decision preventing it from terminating its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood.

In a petition filed on Thursday, it argues that a federal appeals court was wrong when it decided that Medicaid patients have a right to challenge a state’s termination of their Medicaid provider.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Non-profit connects underserved Kansas City neighborhoods to fresh produce.

Food deserts are a big problem for many communities in the metro, but the remedy isn't always to build big grocery stores. Today, we talked with the founder of Kanbe's Markets to learn about his unique approach to connecting communities with fresh, healthy food.

Veterans Health

This story was updated at 1:47 p.m. to include the response of a spokesman for the VA region in question.  

Almost 1,000 veterans in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois were denied care at non-VA facilities because their wait times were incorrectly reported, an audit released last week concludes. 

Heartland Community Health Center

This story was updated at 3:22 p.m. on March 15 to include Jon Stewart's statement.   

The CEO of a safety net clinic in Lawrence, Kansas, has been suspended pending completion of a review of the organization's finances.

In a release Wednesday evening, the board of Heartland Community Health Center said it had suspended Jon Stewart and appointed the clinic’s chief operating officer as interim CEO.

Matt Kleinmann / Community Health Council of Wyandotte County

New county health rankings once again show Wyandotte County as one of the least healthy counties in Kansas. The good news: It’s no longer the worst.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons-Flickr

Three infants in Johnson County are among the first reported cases of measles in the United States this year.

The Johnson County Health Department said Tuesday that the three infants, all under a year old, had been at the same day care center in Overland Park.

This story was updated at 2:43 p.m. to include the comments of ACLU of Missouri legal director Tony Rothert.  

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt has lost his bid to unseal documents over Missouri’s execution protocol.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the safety of members of Missouri’s execution team, as well as the state’s interest in carrying out its executions, overcame the general presumption that the public should have access to judicial records.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media file photo

Seeking what he called “clean” food for lunch, Alexander Minnelli chose ProteinHouse, one of the newer restaurants in downtown Kansas City.

The bodybuilder ordered a Greek Bowl, which was topped with a "natural" turkey burger, produced without antibiotics. Minnelli describes "clean" as a number of things: "not something deep-fried," "non-GMO, no preservatives, something cooked right away, fresh."

Missouri Department of Public Safety

It’s still unclear what role technology might have played in the "nightmare" scenario that unfolded in Clinton, Missouri, this week, when an officer was killed responding to a disturbance call after 911 dispatchers gave police an incorrect address.

LeAnn Mueller / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: High-energy ensemble re-imagines jazz music for a younger generation.

The combination of french fries and Champagne, casual and sophisticated, is an accurate representation of The Hot Sardines' lively music. (It's also the title of their latest album.) Today, we talked with members of the group about their younger audiences, their resident tap dancer and how they fill old tunes with new energy.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Alan Carter didn’t start his recent research with any deep doubts about the insulin that people buy in pharmacies. He just wanted to find out how different kinds of insulin compared. 

“We thought, well, if we can figure out if there’s very subtle differences between the two manufacturing processes, then maybe we can help determine if there is a significant issue for patients who switch back and forth because of insurance formulary restrictions and costs,” Carter says.

Mike Sherry / KCUR 89.3

The proposed budget for Kansas City, Missouri, keeps overall funding for safety net health care providers steady at $31.9 million, but the majority of those programs would see budget cuts. 

Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center is facing the biggest cut. The city has proposed cutting their funding by just over half a million dollars for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The proposed reallocation of money from the city’s health levy would also reduce funding for Kansas City Health Clinic, Northland Health Care and Swope Parkway Health, which faces the second biggest cut of nearly $30,000.

www.ci.independence.mo.us

City Manager Zach Walker announced the news Wednesday and said the department’s functions would be transferred to other city departments.

Independence is facing a projected $3 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Walker said the move would save about $375,000 a year for the city’s general fund.

“This is certainly not a pleasant move, but it’s one that allows us to be innovative, to reduce our overhead associated with that operation, but still provide the core basic services associated with the health department,” Walker said.   

Segment 1: A local dance troupe performs an original piece based on people's experience with cancer.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group has collaborated with Gilda's Club Kansas City and will perform a piece about how people's lives are impacted by cancer. We talk to the choreographer, and we hear from patients, survivors and caregivers.

Segment 1: #MeToo fallout has more parents worried about protecting their kids from sexual predators.

Missouri Legislature

Missouri’s general revenue spending on Medicaid has topped more than 2 billion dollars annually in recent years and its costs are rising.

That’s a problem for Republican State Sen. David Sater of Springfield. 

“It continues to be the biggest inflation that we have in state programs, and we have to do something,” Sater says.

The Springfield lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require Missouri to seek permission from the federal government to get what’s called a global waiver, basically allowing the state to create its own rules for operating Medicaid.

www.mied.uscourts.gov

A pediatric rheumatologist who once worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital is facing new charges in Michigan after losing his license over sexual misconduct allegations.

Mark Franklin Hoeltzel, 46, was charged last month in a criminal complaint for receiving and possessing child pornography. He was arrested at Detroit Metro Airport last week after undergoing treatment for addiction at a clinic in Philadelphia.

Pages