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.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Stinson Dean, an entrepreneur from Independence, Missouri, is used to risks. He buys Canadian softwood framing lumber to sell to lumberyards in the US and says coping with the ups and downs of the market is an inevitable part of doing business.

But when he started the company about a year and a half ago, he laid down a firm rule.

“One of the things I wasn’t willing to risk was the health of my family,” Dean says.

U.S. Census Bureau

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change.

Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year.

The uninsured rate in Missouri declined to 8.9 percent from 9.8 percent the previous year.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains plans to offer abortion services at two more clinics in Missouri, the organization announced Monday, bringing to three the number of abortion providers in Missouri.

Planned Parenthood’s midtown Kansas City clinic has received an abortion license and will now offer medication abortion services.

The organization anticipates its Columbia clinic will offer both medication and surgical abortion services in the coming days.

University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital is denying allegations by a patient that it wrongly diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer and then covered it up.

In an answer filed this week, the hospital says that many of the allegations made by Wendy Ann Noon Berner “reference undisputable hearsay and speculation, and many would arguably constitute defamation” if they were not part of a lawsuit.

The hospital’s 18-page answer broadly disputes Berner’s allegations of malpractice and cover-up, and terms many of them “vague and ambiguous.”

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Emily Dumler, a 36-year-old mother of three, is petite, energetic and appears to be the very picture of health. To look at her, you’d never know that four years ago she was at death’s door.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

The Affordable Care Act marketplace will be a mixed bag for Kansas consumers seeking health insurance for 2018.

Some will pay more for coverage, some less. And some will purchase new plans for which there is no price-point comparison.

In Missouri, insurers are proposing some hefty rate hikes.

Atchison County Detention Center

Updated: Friday, Nov. 3, 1:45 p.m.

Former Eastern Kansas VA Hospital physician assistant Mark E. Wisner was sentenced Friday to 15 years and seven months in prison for sexually abusing patients. 

Wisner was convicted of one felony count each of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated criminal sodomy and three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery in August.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Hungry kids need good food. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. According to a Huffington Post article from February, school lunch programs are one of the most regulated nutritional programs. 

In this encore presentation, we'll get to know a few local "lunch ladies" and check in on school lunch programs in our area.

Guests:

Wikimedia Commons

One of the top concerns for those with a newborn is sleep. Today, we talk with pediatric experts about strategies to help parents develop good sleep habits for their infant. We also discuss the science behind infant sleeping patterns and how to adjust your approach as the child grows older.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

In May, local Drug Enforcement Administration agents, along with Kansas City police, raided a house in Kansas City, Kansas.

What they found surprised them: 16 pounds of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

"We had no idea that it was 100 percent fentanyl," says DEA special agent Troy Derby.

But they were certainly aware of the risks of even a minute amount of the powerful opioid.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

A brick building that was the only grocery store in St. John sits vacant, its glass doors covered with paper since it closed early last year.

St. John is the county seat of Stafford County in south-central Kansas — but it’s home to fewer than 1,300 people.

Now, the closest grocery store is 12 miles away, in Stafford.

St. John resident Amy Collins said that means meals and shopping require more effort.

“Now when we make a trip to the grocery store we are planning four, five … six days out in advance, so you have to be much more efficient,” she said.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the cooler section of any Whole Foods store or maybe the cup holder of your crunchy neighbor’s VW bus, you can find Kombucha, the yeast-fermented tea sold with some pretty over-the-top marketing claims.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

A provider of electronic health records systems for the U.S. Department of Defense is challenging the contract awarded to Cerner Corp. to develop the next-generation electronic health records system (EHR) for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

A federal appeals court has sided with the state of Arkansas against Planned Parenthood, saying it can block Medicaid payments to the medical provider. It reversed earlier injunctions that forbade the state from suspending the money in the wake of a controversial leaked video of Planned Parenthood staff.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders came up short in their initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they’re still working to engineer its failure.

In a recent interview, Sebelius, who spearheaded implementation of the ACA, said she knows that the law isn’t perfect. But she said it would be working better if Republicans would stop undermining it.

“The notion that this law is imploding is just not accurate,” Sebelius said.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials have cleared an initial hurdle in their effort to regain federal certification for Osawatomie State Hospital.

Problems that federal inspectors cited in May have been fixed, making the state’s largest mental health hospital eligible for a full recertification inspection, according to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

That inspection must take place within the next 120 days, according to KDADS Secretary Tim Keck.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Shona Banda, a Garden City, Kansas, mother who drew national attention after losing custody of her son over her use of cannabis, has pleaded no contest to felony charges in exchange for probation.

Banda, who has Crohn’s disease, has been a vocal advocate of medical marijuana and self-published a book about her use of cannabis oil to treat her condition, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.

Women are more likely to die in complications related to pregnancy and birth in the United States than in other industrialized nations. A look at why — and what people are doing locally to change it.

Guests:

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Many health care advocates breathed a sigh a relief after the Senate’s recent efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act failed in late July.

But local and national participants in a rally at Kansas City’s City Hall Wednesday afternoon had a message for those concerned about the fate of healthcare: Don’t let up.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Dr. Daphne Bascom is the first physician on staff at a YMCA anywhere in the country. As senior vice president for community integrated health, she's leading the YMCA of Greater Kansas City into a new future.

"What we can do at the Y is help focus on prevention and help engage all of the services that are a part of our community," Bascom said in an interview with Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Google 2017

This story was updated at 1:47 p.m. and at 3:36 p.m. to include comments from the Putnam County prosecuting attorney and a spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. 

What began as a routine audit of Putnam County took an extraordinary turn when Missouri state auditors uncovered what appears to be a massive, fraudulent billing scheme in tiny Unionville, Missouri’s lone hospital.

Amie May

Tammy Wilson loved the outdoors and was happy to spend her days working at Meramec State Park in the central part of Missouri.

Her family often stopped by to see her, most recently at the end of May

“My mom had two seed ticks on her hip – I believe it was her right hip,” says Wilson’s daughter, Amie May of Bonne Terre, Missouri. “And my sister pulled them off. A couple days later, mom said she just wasn’t feeling herself.”

frankieleon / Flickr - CC

While communities across the country deal with dramatic increases in illegal opioid use, statistics in Johnson County suggest rates of death and addiction closer to home are relatively more stable.

Court filings involving opioid offenses have remained relatively flat in recent years, and illegal use has decreased for hydrocodone and oxycodone, two of the most popular opiates, according to a report from public health and crime experts presented to the Johnson County Commission in June. Heroin use remains steady.

Despite those encouraging numbers, local officials are wary.

University of Kansas Hospital

Two area hospitals earned spots on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.

The University of Kansas Hospital was deemed to be the best hospital in Kansas and in metro Kansas City, while Saint Luke’s was ranked the second best hospital in Missouri, behind Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka was deemed the second best hospital in Kansas, the only other hospital in the state to earn top honors.   

Jennifer Tufts / KCUR 89.3

Vacant since 1972, the first black-owned hospital in Kansas City – where black doctors and nurses could practice medicine and receive advanced clinical training – sits decaying under 45 years of neglect.

Once a triumph of community-wide cooperation, the Wheatley-Provident Hospital remains on the city's dangerous buildings list for an eighth year. Absent a plan for its rehabilitation, it could be demolished by 2019.

Google 2017

This story was updated with new information at 4:13 p.m.

About 10 employees at the IRS Center on 333 Pershing Road complained of sickness this morning after coming into contact with a suspicious envelope left in the building.

Susanna Marking, a spokeswoman for the Federal Protective Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said the envelope smelled of ammonia. She said several people reported feeling ill with watery eyes and seven people were hospitalized. 

Andy Marso / KCUR 89.3

The director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center says it will continue to pursue “comprehensive” status after the National Cancer Institute denied it that coveted designation this week.

“We’re just going to be absolutely fearless in moving forward with this initiative,” says Dr. Roy Jensen, who has led the KU Cancer Center since 2004.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has denied the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s campaign for a much coveted “comprehensive” designation. But the center's certification as a nationally recognized center has been renewed for five years.

"We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that we did not receive comprehensive status,” Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said in a statement. “On average, it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status, and we received our NCI designation just five years ago.”

Friday is Laura McQuade’s last day as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, based in Overland Park, Kansas.

She’s leaving to become head of Planned Parenthood of New York City. In her three years in the region, she has overseen Planned Parenthood’s geographic expansion – it now operates 12 clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma – and the expansion of its health and reproductive services.

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