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.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Nearly a year after Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway released a scathing audit of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, the tiny hospital is still struggling to recover from a lab billing scheme that's now the subject of criminal investigations. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In a famous segment from Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia,” Mickey Mouse is a sorcerer’s apprentice tormented by a broom that he brings to life to help with his chores. At one point, Mickey completely loses it, grabs an ax and savagely chops the cheery, bouncing broom into splinters.

But the story doesn’t end there. As Mickey walks away, the splinters begin to wiggle and regrow, until each one become a new broom.

Donald and Laurie Draughon

After finding the Veterans Health Administration liable earlier this year for the suicide of an Iraq war veteran, a federal judge has awarded more than $480,000 to his father and two children.

In what was thought to be one of the few verdicts of its kind, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled in February that the negligence of the VA directly contributed to the death of Cpl. William Draughon of Kansas City.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Former four-term state representative and agriculture secretary Josh Svaty wants the state's top job.

Tatiana Vdb / Flickr-CC

Segment 1: Leaders of the Kansas and Missouri chapters of the ACLU discuss their organizations' goings-on.

With a federal court ruling Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's voter I.D. laws unconstitutional, the ACLU has something to celebrate. In the meantime, they're still fighting restrictive abortion laws in Missouri and for more funding of the state's public defender's office. Today, they updated us on these lawsuits and more.

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Segment 1: The mindset of asylum-seekers in Trump's America.

Sticking to his campaign promise of strictly enforcing the law at our southern border, President Trump's immigration policies resulted in thousands of migrant children being seperated from their parents. Though he ended that policy with an executive order last week, families crossing illegally are still being detained with children. Today, we heard a first-hand account of what it's like living in a family detention center.

agilemktg1 / Creative Commons-Flickr

Insurance customers in Kansas City will have an additional option on the Affordable Care Act marketplace starting in 2019.

Medica, an insurance company based in Minneapolis, announced Monday it will sell individual plans on the exchange to customers in Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri. It began selling insurance plans on the exchange last year to Kansas customers in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. 

The insurer's coverage is mainly limited to providers in the Saint Luke's Health System.

Miles of Smiles

Neena Patel tells the kinds of stories that make your mouth hurt. She’s a dentist with Miles of Smiles, a nonprofit organization offering free services to low-income kids in Clay and Platte counties who don’t have access to dental care. She regularly sees young patients who haven’t been to the dentist in years – or ever.

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The families of five patients who died under mysterious circumstances in 2002 at a Chillicothe, Missouri, hospital got some bad news three years ago.

The Missouri Supreme Court refused to allow their wrongful death lawsuits against the hospital to proceed. The court said the families had filed their lawsuits too late, five years after the three-year statute of limitations had run out.

Rural hospitals are more likely to close in states such as Missouri that have not expanded Medicaid.

A recent report from the pro-Affordable Care Act organization Protect Our Care analyzed 84 rural hospital closures since 2010. It found 90 percent of those hospital closures were in states that had not expanded Medicaid coverage. Missouri remains one of the 14 states that hasn’t amended its program to cover people who earn up to 138 percent above the poverty line.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County has hired one of the biggest providers of jail healthcare in the country to provide service at the downtown jail. However, the company has a history of being sued for poor care.

Over the past ten years, Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) has been sued 108 times in 16 states, according to Justia.com which tracks federal cases online. Several of those lawsuits are in Missouri and Kansas.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Missouri on Friday suspended Medicaid reimbursement payments to Planned Parenthood, a move that will affect thousands of its low-income patients.

The organization’s affiliates got the news in a letter the same day from Dale Carr, director of Missouri Medicaid Audit & Compliance, who said it was required by a provision in the 2018 budget cutting off funds for abortion providers and abortion counselors.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Medical researchers have made giant leaps in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, which could make it possible to detect the illness long before memory and cognitive problems show up.

There is no cure for the fatal, degenerative disease, and it remains one of the  diagnoses most feared by patients. But researchers and patient advocates say it’s still worth facing their fears and getting tested.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri regulation governing medication abortions, although she found that the restriction “has virtually no benefit.”

Ruling in a case brought by the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips said the plaintiffs had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

2017 KANSAS AND MISSOURI CONSUMER HEALTH ACCESS SURVEY

A quarter of Kansas working-age adults and a third of the state’s children live in households dealing with medical debt.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new report commissioned by five Kansas and Missouri health foundations, believed to be the largest survey to date of health consumers in the two states.

In Kansas, about 2,600 adults and minors were included. The survey answers point to problems with access to dental and mental health care, among other services.

The University of Kansas Health System

It’s been a busy few months for The University of Kansas Health System, formerly known as The University of Kansas Hospital.

Its new $100 million hospital at 107th Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park opens Monday following two years of construction.

That comes on the heels of its acquisition of the Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

And that came shortly after it purchased St. Francis Health in Topeka as part of a joint venture with Ardent Health Services.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Newly proposed federal rules would force Missouri clinics to choose between providing comprehensive healthcare and receiving federal funds, according to family planning groups.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Missouri Family Health Council Inc. and other Missouri health groups on Thursday denounced proposed changes to the federal Title X program, which provides funding for family planning and reproductive health providers throughout the country.

Taja Welton is ready for her daughter to be born. She’s moved into a bigger house, one with room for a nursery. She has a closet full of pink, Minnie Mouse-themed baby clothes. Her baby bag is packed right down to the outfit she plans to bring her baby home in that reads, “The Princess Has Arrived.”

“I can’t wait to put it on her,” Welton smiles. The princess even has a name: Macen.


Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

In a case that has implications for Missouri, Planned Parenthood has asked a federal court for a restraining order to block an Arkansas law that effectively bans medication abortions. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Planned Parenthood's challenge to the law, which requires abortion providers to contract with back-up physicians with hospital admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood says it has sought in vain to find such physicians

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a challenge to an Arkansas law that effectively blocks medication abortions, leaving the fate of a similar Missouri law up in the air.

A medication abortion is a procedure involving a combination of two pills. The woman takes the first at an abortion clinic and typically takes the second at home. Complications from the procedure are rare, with fewer than 1 in 400 patients requiring hospitalization. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for a federal investigation of billing practices at Putnam County Memorial Hospital, which was the subject of a highly critical state audit last year.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89-three

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said Wednesday afternoon that the VA has reached a 10-year, $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to update the VA’s electronic health record system.

The deal calls for the North Kansas City-based company to use the same platform as the one it’s implementing for the Department of Defense so that the two giant agencies’ record systems can “talk” to one another. Cerner secured the defense department contract, worth more than $4 billion, in 2015.

A prosthetic hip made from titanium alloy.
Wellcome Images / Welcome Trust

Segment 1: How tax increment financing helps blighted neighborhoods.

Last week, we heard arguments opposed to tax increment financing, a tax abatement measure used to incentivize urban developement. Today, we learned about the benefits of TIF districts, and why supporters say they're a crucial tool to revitalizing our neighborhoods.

Josie Hoskins seated in the KCUR studio wearing headphones and with a microphone in front of him.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Few infected convicts in Missouri prisons are receiving newer hepatitis C drugs that are more effective, and more expensive.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Joe Watson has lived a troubled life. He had a traumatic childhood, spent years addicted to cocaine and meth and is now serving a 20 year sentence in the Jefferson City Correction Center for second degree murder.

But the 47-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native was shaken to his core by the death of his friend and fellow inmate Stevie Jimerson from hepatitis C early last year. 

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: What science does (and doesn't) know about medical marijuana.

Missouri and Kansas are edging closer to legalizing medical marijuana under limited circumstances, but what do we really know about its health effects? While state lawmakers debate possible harms or benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, we spoke with a scientist who helped write a major study about the good, bad and unknown health effects of marijuana.

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.

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