Health

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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Heartland Health Monitor
10:04 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Kansas Safety Net Clinics Seek New Sites

The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is seeking a $650,000 grant to expand.
Credit File photo

 

Even with the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans still lack health insurance.

For them, safety net clinics are a lifeline. These clinics provide primary care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Today, there are federally funded clinics in 21 Kansas counties, but there soon could be more.

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Heartland Health Monitor
6:00 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Much Smoother ACA Enrollment Period, Says Health Exchange Worker

Samuel U Rodgers marketplace counselor Joe Torres says this year's ACA open enrollment is going much better than last year's.
Alex Smith KCUR

Only six people were able to sign up for private health insurance plans on the first day of open enrollment last year, due to widespread computer problems with the online insurance marketplaces. So enrollment helpers breathed a big sigh of relief earlier this month when the second round of enrollment launched with few glitches.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:46 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Kansas Effort To Tighten Regulation Of Mental Health Drugs Raises Concerns

Kansas law currently bars state officials from placing restrictions on mental health drugs prescribed to Medicaid recipients. A legislative committee recommended repealing that law last week, saying the state needs to step in to prevent inappropriate use of such drugs.
Credit Rex Roof / Creative Commons-Flickr

 

A legislative committee’s recommendation could reignite a debate over whether the state should have the power to regulate Medicaid reimbursements for mental health medications, as it does for other types of drugs.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:28 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Kansas House Delegation Supports EPA Restrictions

       

Three measures seeking to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week along largely partisan lines, with all of the Republicans in the Missouri and Kansas delegations voting in favor of the bills and the two Missouri Democrats voting against them.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:44 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Why Kansas Democrats Shied Away From Medicaid Expansion Issue

Post-election soul-searching by Kansas Democrats includes disagreement over whether Medicaid expansion should have been a larger part of the party’s strategy.

The Democrats lost all statewide races for the second straight time and lost another five House seats to drop their number in that chamber to 27. The defeats were part of a national wave of Republican election wins, but they have nonetheless led to talk within the Kansas Democratic Party about what could have been done differently.

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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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Health
4:19 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Patient Tests Negative For Ebola In Jefferson County

The Ebola virus, shown through transmission electron micrograph.

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 4:36 pm

Updated at 6:40 p.m.

A Jefferson County woman who was showing symptoms of Ebola has initially tested negative for the virus at Mercy Hospital in Crystal City. As a precautionary measure, officials said she will remain in an isolation room for treatment and will be monitored according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:04 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

MU Health Care To Stop Hiring Nicotine Users

Credit Creative Commons-Pixabay

One of Missouri's largest employers will no longer hire nicotine users.

As of January 1, 2015, MU Health Care, the five-hospital University of Missouri health system based in Columbia, Mo., said it won't offer jobs to people who smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes, chew tobacco or "vape" electronic cigarettes.

The health system made the announcement Thursday to coincide with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout holiday.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:46 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Kansas Chosen For Free School Breakfast Grants

More Kansas kids may soon get free breakfast at school.

A program called Breakfast in the Classroom has added Kansas and six other states to the list of those eligible for the grant-funded program, bringing the total number of states to 18. The program has been in place since 2012 in the Kansas City, Kan., school district, but schools throughout the rest of Kansas will be eligible to apply this year.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:03 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Kansas Hospitals Continue Push For Medicaid Expansion

The Kansas Hospital Association on Thursday continued its campaign for Medicaid expansion by reminding policymakers how much the state is losing by not claiming federal dollars to cover more low-income adults.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:43 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Computer System For Kansas Social Services Still Awaits Rollout

A $135 million computer system meant to streamline applications for Kansas social services, including Medicaid, remains without a final “go-live” date more than a year after the rollout was originally scheduled to be completed.

Glen Yancey, chief information officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Tuesday that his staff is “making final assessments” of the readiness the Kansas Eligibility and Enforcement System, or KEES.

Yancey declined to give a rollout target date, though, saying that policymakers above him have to make that call.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:57 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

GOP Lawmakers Reject Request For KanCare Investigative Committee

Republican members of a joint legislative committee say there’s no need to launch a state investigation into allegations that lobbyists connected to Gov. Sam Brownback engaged in “pay to play” deals involving KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat and member of the KanCare Oversight Committee, on Tuesday urged members to recommend the formation of an investigative committee in a report they’re preparing for legislative leaders.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:41 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Annette Bloch Donates $10 Million To KU Hospital For Expansion Project

Annette Bloch's $10 million grant will help fund construction of KU Hospital's building expansion, shown in this rendering.
Credit University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital announced this afternoon that civic leader Annette Bloch will contribute $10 million toward a $279 million expansion to accommodate the hospital’s fastest growing specialties.

The 92-bed addition, which was announced earlier this year, will be located north of the hospital on the northeast corner of 39th and Cambridge streets in Kansas City, Kan. It will house surgical oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, and ear, nose & throat services.

Bloch structured the donation in the form of a challenge grant that must be matched by June 2016.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:35 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Rising KanCare Costs Add To Kansas Budget Problems

State officials will need to find an additional $40 million to meet rising KanCare costs in the current budget year, according to caseload estimates compiled by the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department.

KanCare is the name of the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Also, an anticipated increase in the number of children in the foster care system will require an additional $10.2 million in state funding in the current budget year, which ends June 30.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:50 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Children’s Mercy Hospital Develops App For Infant Heart Defects

Winston and Emily Whalgren were among the first users of Children's Mercy Hospital's CHAMP app.
Credit Children's Mercy Hospital

About 3,000 infants are born each year with single-ventricle heart defects.

While that’s a relatively small number, for the newborns’ families the diagnosis can be devastating, says Dr. Girish Shirali, co-director of the Ward Family Heart Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

“It’s very difficult for families, because nobody expects this. So it kind of comes like a bolt from the blue,” he says.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:40 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Medicare Termination Looms At Osawatomie Hospital

A federal agency has sent notice that Medicare payments to overcrowded Osawatomie State Hospital will be terminated, but state officials say they will address concerns before the deadline and avoid the termination.

Kari Bruffett, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said Tuesday that she was aware of the termination notice from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But she said the state has until Dec. 8 to correct deficiencies and will do so.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:11 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Kansas Consumers Have More ACA Enrollment Options

Sherry Calderwood, a waitress at a Topeka breakfast spot frequented by legislators and lobbyists, didn’t buy insurance through the Obamacare marketplace last year but will this year to cover the cost of treating a recently diagnosed blood disorder.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

 

Sherry Calderwood wishes she could turn back the clock.

Last fall, she and her husband decided not to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace because it cost too much.

RELATED STORY: Kansas City Groups Target Hard-To-Reach For Health Insurance 

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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
6:42 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

ESPN Program Raises Food Safety Issues At Kansas City Stadiums

Cockroaches, mold and mouse feces at Kauffman stadium food stands: Those were some of the food safety violations that Aramark district food safety manager Jon Costa related to ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" television program in a segment that aired on Friday. 

Costa, whom the Philadelphia-based company has since placed on paid administrative leave,  also voiced his concerns about food safety at Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums to the Kansas City, Mo., health department on Nov. 3.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:38 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Head Of Kansas Prescription Monitoring Program Resigns

The executive director of Kansas' prescription drug monitoring program, Marty Singleton, announced his resignation due to health issues.
Credit Phil Cauthon

 

The man who shepherded Kansas' prescription drug tracking program through a software upgrade is resigning after a little more than a year on the job.

Marty Singleton, director of the Kansas Tracking and Reporting of Controlled Substances system,  said in a phone interview that he is stepping down due to "personal health issues."

“I met with my doctor," Singleton said. "Been down this road before, and it’s better just to nip it in the bud.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:47 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Two Kansas City-Area Companies Won’t Have To Comply With Birth Control Mandate

Two Kansas City-area companies that challenged the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraception mandate won’t be required to cover birth control as part of their employees’ health care plans.

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, Senior U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith on Wednesday barred federal officials from enforcing the requirement against Randy Reed Automotive Inc. and Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:28 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Cerner Breaks Ground on Massive South Kansas City Complex

A computer rendering of Cerner Corp.'s proposed $4.45 billion campus in south Kansas City.
Credit Cerner Corp.

Cerner Corp., the Kansas City-based health care information technology giant, broke ground Wednesday on its huge campus in south Kansas City, Mo., a project that’s eventually expected to house as many as 16,000 workers.

Cerner officials, along with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas City mayor Sly James, took part in the ceremony at the site of the now-demolished Bannister Mall, once one of the area’s biggest shopping centers. The mall closed in 2007 and was torn down in 2009.  

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:04 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Kansas Lawmaker Wants To Adjust Law Mandating Autism Coverage

The Kansas House member who last session championed a bill that expanded insurance coverage for autism treatment said it may be adjusted in the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican who was re-elected last week, said he will propose changes to House Bill 2744, which was a compromise struck between insurance companies and autism treatment advocates.

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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
8:43 am
Tue November 11, 2014

KanCare Architect Moser Stepping Down From KDHE Post

Dr. Robert Moser has announced he will step down as head of the Kansas Department of Health & Environment at the end of November.
Credit KHI News Service

Dr. Robert Moser has resigned as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

His resignation will be effective at the end of the month.

Moser broke the news to the agency’s staff late Monday afternoon in an email.

“I am stepping down from my current position as KDHE secretary and state health officer effective the end of November,” Moser said.

Moser said “it was a hard decision” to leave the state’s public health and Medicaid agency.

“However, it is the right time for me and my family to look at other opportunities,” he said.

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