Health

Heartland Health Monitor
5:08 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Kansas City-Area Hospitals Penalized For Infection Rates And Other Injuries

These 11 hospitals in the metropolitan area will have to forfeit 1 percent of their Medicare revenues in fiscal 2015 under the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was established by the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Eleven Kansas City-area hospitals have been hit with penalties for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare deems avoidable.

The hospitals’ Medicare payments will be docked by 1 percent in the fiscal year that runs from October 2014 through September 2015.

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St. Joseph
4:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:32 am

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:22 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Report: Kansas, Missouri Unprepared For Disease Outbreaks

Credit NIAID / National Institutes of Health

 

Kansas and Missouri rank in the bottom half of states in preparedness for potential outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola, Enterovirus and ‘superbugs,’ according to a report released Thursday.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:05 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Group Will Seek To Get Rid Of Kansas Sales Tax On Food

Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids, says the Kansas budget crisis presents an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Kansas' sales tax on food.
Credit KC Healthy Kids

 

Led by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization supported in part by the Kansas Health Foundation, a coalition is being formed to guide a legislative effort to exempt food from the state sales tax.

“Cutting the sales tax on food will make it more affordable for Kansans to eat healthier,” says Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:00 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Why Are Minorities Diagnosed With Autism At Lower Rates Than Whites?

Wendy Santillan's 3-year-old son Raoul, who was diagnosed with autism, has found help for him through a training program geared toward families living in rural or remote areas.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

Just after picking him up from day care, Wendy Santillan serves her son, Raoul, milk and cookies.

Raoul, a 3-year-old with a crew cut and big brown eyes, happily devours his snack. But Wendy says she noticed early on some unusual behavior in her son.

“When he was 18 months, he starts to play with the toys in a different way,” she says. “He used to pass the toy (along) the corner of his eye, and that wasn’t normal at all to me.”

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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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Heartland Health Monitor
4:10 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Olathe Approves Bond Funding For Hospital Expansion

One of the biggest hospitals in the southern part of metropolitan Kansas City is about to get even bigger.

The Olathe City Council this week approved $47.1 million in bonds on behalf of Olathe Medical Center to help finance expansion of the hospital. The project carries an estimated $67 million dollar price tag.

“Projects of this magnitude show the commitment Olathe Medical Center has to this city and this region,” Erin Vader, a spokeswoman for the city, said in a phone interview.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:04 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Kansas Budget Cuts Affect Department For Children And Families

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families says the agency plans to heed Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for cutting $3.9 million from its fiscal year 2015 budget by delaying a planned upgrade of its computer system.

The savings should cover “almost all of our anticipated FY 2015 reduction,” DCF spokesperson Theresa Freed said in an email, referring to the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.

Delaying the upgrade, she said, will have “no impact” on the department’s services for at-risk children and low-income families.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:38 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Mission Hills Lawmaker Sees Gun Background Checks As Health Issue

Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican, wants to expand background checks for gun sales.
Credit File photo

 

 

A former physician now in the Kansas Legislature says she will promote a bill expanding background checks for gun sales because she believes gunshot wounds are a public health issue.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:09 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Obamacare Plays Major Role In Brownback Budget Fix

 

When Gov. Sam Brownback announced this week a list of stopgap measures to close a $280 million budget hole, one of the biggest chunks was $55 million from a “Kansas Department of Health and Environment Fee Fund Sweep” made possible in part by a federal law the governor has strenuously opposed and criticized.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:47 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Wichita Center Feels Effects Of Limited Admissions At Osawatomie State Hospital

A decision last week by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to limit admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital has had an immediate effect on the state’s mental health system.

Marilyn Cook, executive director at COMCARE, the community mental health center in Wichita, says the state’s decision to suspend admission of voluntary patients and more closely screen involuntary admissions recently prevented the center from transferring several patients thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:01 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Deadline Nears For Kansas Nursing Homes To Join Malpractice Fund

Cindy Luxem, president and CEO of the Kansas Center for Assisted Living, urged the inclusion of adult care facilities in the stabilization fund.

Hundreds of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Kansas will be required to participate in a fund meant to spread the risk of malpractice lawsuits starting next month. Advocates for those facilities say the change is a plus, but it has insurance agents scrambling to find liability coverage for their assisted living clients in a limited market.

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Beyond Our Borders
6:45 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Kansas, Missouri Continue To Struggle In Health Rankings

Credit Marius Mellebye / Creative Commons-Flickr

New health rankings  show Kansas stuck at No. 27 among the 50 states, the same slot it occupied last year. But there was a time – not that long ago – when the state ranked much higher than the middle of the pack.

The annual United Health Foundation rankings are a snapshot of 30 health measures ranging from clinical care to behavior and environment to state policy. Dr. Rhonda Randall, the foundation’s chief health advisor, says there’s no mistaking the trend.

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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
1:37 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

KCK ‘Healthy Campus’ Another Step Closer To Reality

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., in October unveiled 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.

 

A multimillion-dollar plan to transform downtown Kansas City, Kan., into a national model is one step closer to reality.

The Unified Government Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved a new master development plan designed to help improve the health of Kansas City and other Wyandotte County residents by providing a state-of-the-art community center, more green space in which to exercise and access to healthy foods at a 30,000- to 35,000-square-foot urban grocery store.

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Flu Shots
5:56 am
Sat December 6, 2014

CDC Warns Flu Shots May Not Be As Effective This Year

The CDC and doctors countrywide are warning that flu vaccines might not be as effective as planned, but still will help prevent people from getting the flu.
Credit Steven Depolo / Flickr-CC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that this season’s flu shots may not be as effective as last year’s due to a mutation of the H3N2 flu virus.

The H3N2 flu strain has "drifted" as doctors say, into a new subtype. So this season’s vaccinations will only be about 48 percent effective at preventing people from catching the H3N2 flu strain, according to the CDC.

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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
3:10 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Vaccination Push Continues As Flu Appears In Kansas

As flu cases begin to appear in Kansas, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist urged providers to continue distributing the flu vaccine while also preparing antiviral medications for high-risk patients.

William Atkinson, a doctor who spent 25 years at the CDC and is now associate director for immunization at the Immunization Action Coalition, said there's still time to inoculate more of the population before the flu season peaks.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:46 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Moser To Lead Heart Disease, Stroke Collaborative At KU Hospital

Dr. Robert Moser, who resigned last month as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has a new job.

Earlier this week, Moser was named executive director for the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Bob Hallinan, a spokesperson for the hospital, confirmed the hiring late Thursday afternoon.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:27 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Kansas Suspends Voluntary Admissions To Osawatomie State Hospital

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has suspended voluntary admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital, one of the state’s two inpatient facilities for people with serious mental illnesses.

The decision, according to a memo sent to the state’s 26 community mental health centers late Tuesday afternoon, was driven by “ongoing and critical census challenges” at the state hospital. The memo also outlined procedures for handling patients who are involuntarily admitted.

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Heartland Health Monitor
8:56 am
Thu December 4, 2014

KC Checkup: Seven Questions For Carrie O'Toole

Carrie O'Toole is a council member for the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

Like many people in rural, medically underserved areas, many of Kansas’ Native American groups struggle with health problems.

The four largest groups – the Iowa, Kickapoo, Prairie Band Potawatomi, and Sac and Fox – live in isolated reservations in northeastern parts of the state.

In August, the tribes held a Kansas Tribal Health Summit, the first time all four met to address common tribal health issues.

As part of our monthly series, KC Checkup, Heartland Health Monitor’s Alex Smith spoke with Prairie Band Potawatomi council member Carrie O’Toole about those issues.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:05 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Two Kansas Foster Care Program Officials Are Out

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families on Tuesday said that Deputy Secretary Kathe Decker and Prevention and Protection Services Director Brian Dempsey have left the agency.

Anna Pilato, director of the department’s divisions for strategic development and community and faith-based initiatives, is due to leave later this month.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:01 am
Wed December 3, 2014

ACA Ups Number Of Kansas State Workers Eligible For Full-Time Benefits

Beginning in January, more than 80 percent of workers currently eligible for part-time benefits in the Kansas state employee health plan will be eligible for full-time benefits under changes mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:32 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Missouri and Kansas Rank Among Lowest Spending States For Tobacco Prevention

Missouri has the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation, at 17 cents a pack. Kansas has the 15th lowest, at 79 cents a pack.
Credit Creative Commons-Wikimedia

States continue to spend a miniscule portion of the billions of dollars they collect annually in tobacco revenues on smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report by six leading health organizations.  

Missouri spent $76,314 on tobacco prevention in the latest fiscal year, the report says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it should have spent nearly $73 million.

Only one state, New Jersey, spent a smaller percentage of its tobacco funds on anti-smoking programs. New Jersey allocated no funds for tobacco prevention.  

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:53 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Kansas, Missouri Smoking Rates Remain Above National Average

Credit Creative Commons-Pixabay

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week show that between 2005 and 2013, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoked declined from almost 21 percent to slightly less than 18 percent.

That’s the lowest percentage since the CDC began keeping tobacco use records in 1965.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:21 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

AARP To Urge Passage Of Kansas Caregiver Legislation

Judy Bellome, of Lawrence, helped care for her diabetic mother until her death. Bellome is now among those supporting a bill to require more instruction for caregivers before patients are discharged from the hospital. She's holding a picture of her mother.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

When diabetes began to steal her mother’s legs and vision three decades ago, Lawrence resident Judy Bellome and her family joined the ranks of thousands of caregivers across Kansas.

Bellome had advantages others don’t, but even so she found it challenging.

“If I hadn’t been a nurse — and my sister is a physical therapist — there’s a very good chance we would not have been giving my mother the right insulin doses,” says Bellome, former CEO of the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association. “Because nobody trained us.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:30 am
Wed November 26, 2014

KU Medical Center Group Recruits Rural Teens For Health Jobs

Traci Olberding, a University of Kansas pharmacy student from Atchison, speaks to a group of northeast Kansas high school students.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

 

 

In the last two years Seth Nutt has traveled to nearly every corner of Kansas, introducing rural students to health care professionals.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:21 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Kansas City Unveils Plan For Downtown Bike Lanes

Kansas City, Mo., unveiled plans to add a mile-and-a-half of biking lanes downtown.
Credit BikeWalkKC

 

Bike commuters and enthusiasts may soon have more options for safely trekking through downtown Kansas City, Mo.

The Public Works Department disclosed plans Tuesday for redesigning traffic flow and creating bike lanes on a mile-and-a-half stretch of Grand Avenue between the Crossroads and the River Market.

“It’s an opportunity to take Grand from a traditional 1960’s six-lane arterial into a more walkable, livable three-lane street with bike lanes and better pedestrian accommodations,” said Wes Minder, manager of capital planning for the city.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:51 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

KCK Home Health Provider Convicted Of Medicaid Fraud

A Kansas City, Kan., home health attendant has been convicted in a federal case based on fraudulent Medicaid billing practices.

Doris Betts, 55, pleaded guilty to health care fraud in federal court. Her conviction was announced Tuesday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose office is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to investigate home health care fraud in Kansas.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:34 am
Tue November 25, 2014

State Releases Plan To Keep Medicare Reimbursements At Osawatomie Hospital

The corrective plan for the Osawatomie hospital includes regular "fire watch" room checks when the facility is over its legislature-approved capacity.
Credit File photo

State officials have a three-pronged plan to ensure Osawatomie State Hospital maintains its Medicare reimbursements after a federal agency announced last week they are in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, mental health advocates say the situation at that hospital underscores the need for legislators who hold the state's purse strings to allow the executive branch to follow through on reforms that are still in their early stages.

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