Health

Heartland Health Monitor
2:50 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

KDHE Surveyors Sent To Osawatomie State Hospital

State officials on Wednesday confirmed reports that surveyors with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment were dispatched last week to Osawatomie State Hospital, and that the surveyors in turn summoned the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Sara Belfry, a KDHE spokesperson, said the nature of the surveyors’ concerns will not be made public until after survey findings are reviewed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a process that’s likely to take several days.

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Heartland Health Monitor
8:59 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Lawsuit Against KanCare Company Puts Program In Spotlight Again

A lawsuit alleging that one of the for-profit companies running KanCare ordered employees to shift KanCare members away from high-cost providers has put a renewed spotlight on the program, one of the Brownback administration’s signature achievements.

In the lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., a former official of the company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., claimed she was fired after she objected to the directive, saying it was unethical and possibly illegal.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:00 am
Thu October 30, 2014

KC Checkup: Five Questions For Ron Rowe

Ron Rowe is vice president of sales for Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

The open enrollment period for 2015 health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act is coming up on Nov. 15 and extends to Feb. 15.

The federal health reform law has changed the way many consumers buy and use insurance. For insurance companies, it has transformed their entire way of doing business.

For this month’s KC Checkup, Heartland Health Monitor talks with Ron Rowe, vice president of sales for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, which provides insurance to more than a million customers.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:00 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Solving The Puzzling Mental Illness of Bhutanese Refugees

Palak and Durga Khadka with their son-in-law, Birkha, and daughter, Ganga (left to right) next to their home in Chalet Manor in Kansas City, Kan.
Alex Smith KCUR

Making the rounds at a public housing complex in Kansas City, Kan., community health worker Rinzin Wangmo is greeted by cheery voices and faces.

As she enters a home, the heavy aroma of chopped onions stings her nose, and she hurries up a short flight of stairs to escape the burn. After gently knocking on a door, she walks in to meet with a woman who’s bedridden with pain. 

The woman’s condition is not unusual among Bhutanese refugees, according to University of Kansas professor Dr. Joe LeMaster.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:21 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Kansas City Conferees Tackle Language Of Health Care

Organizers of a health literacy summit in Kansas City, Mo., offered a range of materials to attendees.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

 

As reformers work on making the U.S. health care system more efficient, they’re also looking to improve communication with consumers – whether it’s ensuring they understand the nuances of insurance or grasping instructions from a doctor.

The concept is known as “health literacy,” and the notion extends beyond the written or spoken word, Dan Reus, a St. Louis business consultant, argued Friday at a health literacy summit in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

People also need to understand the ever-increasing electronic data that make up their medical records, he said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:58 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Missouri Lawmaker Hopeful About Medicaid Expansion

Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, believes he has the votes to expand Medicaid in the upcoming legislative session.
Credit Missouri News Horizon / Flickr--CC

Medicaid expansion may yet happen in Missouri, according to state Sen. Ryan Silvey.

The Kansas City Republican said on Friday that he believes he has the support he needs to pass a Medicaid expansion bill that addresses the concerns of his more conservative colleagues.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:04 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Few Adults Taking Advantage Of New KanCare Dental Coverage

Only about 6 percent of eligible adults took advantage of new dental coverage offered under KanCare in the first year of the managed care Medicaid program.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

 

About 6 percent of eligible adults took advantage of new dental coverage offered under KanCare in the first year of the managed care Medicaid program.

The switch to managed care Medicaid administered by three private companies extended basic dental cleanings to more than 130,000 adults ages 19 to 64.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment statistics, about 7,600 adults had a cleaning paid for by one of the managed care companies in 2013.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:10 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Sidelined Player Steps Up Game In Concussion Awareness Effort

Kylee Bliss, 18, has formed a nonprofit foundation to raise awareness about and spur research into post-concussion syndrome after sustaining life-altering concussions herself.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

A talented athlete, Kylee Bliss might have been a scholarship basketball player at a small college.

As a sophomore point guard at Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan., she practiced hard and had a real feel for the game. That changed after she sustained two concussions on the court in the span of eight weeks nearly three years ago.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:47 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Affordable Care Act Gets Mixed Reviews At Kansas Economic Conference

Former Kansas Medicaid official Andy Allison spearheaded the expansion effort in Arkansas as director of that state’s program. He says an infusion of young and relatively healthy Medicaid recipients into Arkansas’ private insurance market is pushing down rates for everyone else.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service

 

     

Which of the following is true?

  • The Affordable Care Act has provided thousands of low-income Kansas with greater access to affordable health insurance.
  • A looming ACA mandate has caused some Kansas employers to hire fewer full-time workers and instead fill positions with part-time employees.
  • The combination of reductions in Medicare rates and the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid eligibility has put Kansas hospitals in a financial bind.

The correct answer is “all of the above.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:56 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Groups Agree Overuse Of Antipsychotic Drugs An Issue In Kansas Nursing Homes

The Kansas Health Care Association and Kansas Advocates for Better Care don’t usually see eye to eye on much.

KHCA, which represents the state’s for-profit nursing homes, is quick to argue against passing laws that might increase their costs or add to their regulatory burden.

KABC typically says the state doesn’t do enough to improve conditions in poor-performing nursing homes and advocates for tighter regulation.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:33 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Eating Disorders: They Afflict Men Too

On most days, Jon Smith takes a lunchtime walk on a route from his data supervisor job in Overland Park. The 23-year-old Lenexa man maintains an active lifestyle to stay fit, having dropped a running regimen where he logged as many as 20 miles a day during his struggles with an eating disorder.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

At one point when he was in college at Kansas State University, Jon Smith would jog as many as 20 miles a day.

“If I wasn’t in the library and not in class,” he says, “I was running.”

But Smith was far from healthy.

His over-the-top regimen was a manifestation of an eating disorder known as purge-type anorexia, hints of which first surfaced when weight gain from migraine medication made Smith a pudgy fifth-grader. His training obsession began two years later during preparations for the Junior Olympics.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:32 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Eating Disorders And Insurance: A Fraught Combination

Dr. Gregg Laiben, medical director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, says patients must be kept in the highest level of care for as long as they need it.

The business day was ticking away as Sarah Wilcher waited on the phone.

She was an hour into a desperate protest of an insurance decision about her seriously ill daughter, Piper. By around 5:10 p.m., she realized everybody was gone.

“They just left me on hold,” Wilcher recalled recently of that day four years ago.

RELATED STORY: As Sufferers Battle Eating Disorders, Efforts Underway To Reopen Clinic

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:30 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

As Sufferers Battle Eating Disorders, Efforts Underway To Reopen Clinic

The disorder is so powerful that, even though the body is wasting away, patients in intensive-care sometimes rip out feeding lines or hide the peanut butter provided by staff in their armpits.

Known as anorexia nervosa, the condition is a process of self-starvation – and, researchers say, the deadliest of all psychiatric disorders. Some estimates put the mortality rate at 20 percent.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:53 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Kansas Lawmaker Who May Lead Health Committee Open To Medicaid Expansion

Reps. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, and David Crum, R-Augusta, serve on the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Credit KHI News Service file photo

Medicaid expansion is more likely to be considered in the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature if Rep. Susan Concannon is appointed to chair the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The panel is now chaired by Rep. David Crum, an Augusta Republican who has declined to hold hearings on the expansion issue for the past two sessions. But Crum is not running for a fifth term.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:38 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

New Clinic Serves Adult Survivors Of Childhood Cancer

The Midwest Cancer Alliance on Tuesday announced the formal opening of a clinic designed especially for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

“This program helps give pediatric cancer survivors access to long-term care tailored to their unique needs," Dr. Becky Lowry, the new clinic’s medical director, said in a prepared statement.

Survivors of childhood cancer, she said, often are prone to secondary cancers, fertility issues, cardiovascular disease, weakened immune systems and endocrine problems.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:00 am
Tue October 21, 2014

On-Time Vaccination Rate For Kansas Kids Tumbles

The percentage of Kansas students entering kindergarten in 2012 who had been immunized on the medically recommended schedule tumbled to 61 percent from about 72 percent the previous year.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:57 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

KanCare Initiative Concerns Parents Of Developmentally Disabled Adults

Nearly 200 parents, case workers, service providers and state officials attended a town hall meeting last week at Overland Park Christian Church, where a new health home initiative for developmentally disabled Kansans was discussed.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

 

 

Parents of adult children with developmental disabilities say state officials are breaking a pledge made during negotiations last year that led legislators to include Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services for the developmentally disabled in the state's KanCare program.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:50 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Measles, Pertussis Vex Kansas Health Workers As Ebola Steals Headlines

Pottawatomie County has seen a surge of pertussis cases this year, with more than 100 to date. The Pottawatomie County Health Department building, on Main Street in Westmoreland, is at far right.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

 

Even as local health officials prepare for the unlikely event of an Ebola outbreak in Kansas, some have had their hands full trying to convince people in their communities to take basic measures to contain the spread of more prevalent, contagious and preventable diseases like measles and pertussis.

Kansas has seen spikes in both illnesses this year, leading some health officials to issue orders of quarantine and others to ask people to voluntarily stay home.

Those requests were not always well-received.

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Health
4:02 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Definitive Tests Confirm: No Ebola At KU

Definitive testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a University of Kansas Hospital patient suspected of contracting Ebola does not have the virus.

The Kansas City, Kan., man had worked as a medic on a ship off the west coast of Africa until returning home a week ago. He was admitted to the hospital Monday morning showing concerning symptoms.

The patient has been moved to a lower level of isolation, and doctors say he’s improving.

They suspect he contracted a tropical disease.

Heartland Health Monitor
5:15 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

California Company Finalizes Agreement To Buy Two KC-Area Hospitals

St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., pictured here, is one of several local Catholic hospitals that would be owned by Prime Healthcare Services of California.
Credit St. Joseph Medical Center

The operator of two local Catholic hospitals has finalized their sale to a for-profit company based in Ontario, Calif.

Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic health system, said in a statement Tuesday that it had reached a definitive agreement to sell St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs to Prime Healthcare Services. The two hospitals operate through Kansas City-based Carondelet Health.

Terms of the deal, which was first announced in July, were not disclosed, and the deal remains subject to regulatory approval.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:19 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

KU Hospital: Patient Admitted Monday Does Not Have Ebola

The University of Kansas Hospital says a patient admitted Monday with symptoms that included diarrhea does not have Ebola.
Credit File photo

A man who was admitted Monday to The University of Kansas Hospital suffering from diarrhea and who worked recently near Africa's west coast does not have Ebola, the hospital said Tuesday afternoon. 

Results of blood tests showed the patient has not contracted the virus, which has killed more than 4,000 people in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 

At a news conference, KU Hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Lee Norman,  said preliminary tests on the patient were negative. 

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Longtime Leader Leaving Kansas Substance Abuse Group

Dalyn Schmitt is stepping down as head of Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center in Roeland Park, Kan.

 

A Roeland Park-based substance abuse center announced Monday that its founder and CEO will step down at the end of the year.

The nonprofit Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center (RADAC) said Dalyn Schmitt would hand the reins to Jason Hess, who has been with the organization since 2001 and currently serves as executive director.

According to a news release, Schmitt founded Heartland RADAC in 1998.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:41 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

KU Hospital: Patient Admitted Monday At 'Low To Moderate Risk' Of Ebola

The University of Kansas Hospital said it admitted a patient Monday who had recently been on a ship off the coast of West Africa and is testing him for Ebola.
Credit File photo

The University of Kansas Hospital says a patient who recently worked as a medic on a ship off the coast of West Africa came to the hospital early Monday morning feeling sick and is being tested for Ebola.

The hospital said the patient was at "low to moderate risk" of Ebola but the hospital was taking no chances.

In a statement, it said the patient was met by staff wearing personal protection equipment and following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:28 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

State Scrutiny Of Kansas Early Head Start Programs Raises Concerns

Brenda Jones, assistant teacher, works with Camila Meza-Luna, 2, and Jason Spencer, 2, in a classroom at TOP Early Learning Center in Wichita, part of the Child Start program. Child Start officials decided not to reapply for nearly $1 million in Early Head Start funding because of difficulties dealing with a state agency.
Credit Kevin Brown

 

One of Kansas’ largest early childhood development programs has decided not to reapply for nearly $1 million in Early Head Start funding because of difficulties dealing with a state agency.

“This wasn’t something we wanted to do,” says Teresa Rupp, longtime executive director at Child Start, a Wichita-based program that provides Head Start and Early Head Start services for 981 low-income children in Butler, Cowley, Sedgwick and Sumner counties.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:24 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Forum Develops A Healthy To-Do List For Kansas City Area

Sherry Norfleet, of Harrisonville, Mo., participated in a stretching exercise during a break at a health care forum Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

The Kansas City of the future would be a place where people have affordable medical care, policymakers work with the community on health issues and residents suffer less from chronic diseases and violence.

That, at any rate, is the consensus that emerged Saturday at a forum in Kansas City, Mo.

And it was just the start of what participants said a vigorous metropolitan area should look like in the next decade.

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Health
2:19 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Diapers Represent A Significant Need For Low-Income Families

An estimated 17,000 Kansas City kids don't have enough diapers.

Their families just can't afford them.

"Diapers and other hygiene products – including cleaning supplies – are not provided by any state or federal subsidy," says Joanne Goldblum, executive director of the National Diaper Bank Network.

And diapers, especially the disposable kind required by most childcare centers, are a significant expense, up to $100 a week.

If that amount seems high, Goldblum says it's because poor families don't have the same resources as wealthier ones.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:04 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Navigators Share Strategies For Obamacare Enrollment

Bill Brock, an application counselor with Swope Health Services in Kansas City, Mo., made a point at a Thursday forum on insurance coverage through the health reform law. The secret to getting people signed up, he said, is 'being compassionate with each and every individual. Then, they allow you to help them.'
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

Meridith Berry and her team learned a valuable lesson at an event where they were encouraging Hispanics to purchase coverage through the health insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act: don’t use green card stock.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:48 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Plans For ‘Healthy Campus’ In KCK Move Forward

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., is unveiling 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.

Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland on Thursday unveiled an initiative to ensure that all residents can use a proposed new community center regardless of their financial circumstances.

Holland announced the initiative as part of a community forum for a “healthy campus” proposed for an urban site just west of downtown Kansas City, Kan.

A proposal championed by Holland, the healthy campus is a proposed mixed-use development that would revolve around Big Eleven Lake, which is bounded by 10th and 11th streets between State Avenue and Washington Boulevard.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:17 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Davis Vows To Reverse Controversial KanCare Decision If Elected

Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for Kansas governor, said on Wednesday that support services for developmentally disabled Kansans should not be part of KanCare, the state's privatized Medicaid program.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis says if elected, he will reverse Gov. Sam Brownback’s controversial decision to put the private companies managing the state’s Medicaid program in charge of delivering support services to Kansans with developmental disabilities.

Brownback, a conservative Republican seeking a second term, privatized the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program in 2013 and renamed it KanCare to achieve two — and some say conflicting — goals of improving care and reducing costs.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:41 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Healthier Kansas Requires Healthier Built Environment, Expert Says

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease — these health issues aren’t really the problem in America, according to Mark Fenton, who spoke Wednesday at the third annual Kansas Obesity Summit. Rather, he said, the real culprits are poor nutrition and physical inactivity.

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