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.

Rugby Simon / KCUR 89.3

Today, the University of Kansas announced a $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the KU Medical Center's program, Frontiers: University of Kansas Clinical and Translational Science Institute (KU CTSI).

Frontiers began five years ago. It's a clinical science institute dedicated to connecting scientists at the KU Med Center to resources and innovative research tools. It's one of just 57 institutes of its kind in the country.

The university has become known for this program, along with its cancer center, and Alzheimer's disease center.

Alex Smith / Harvest Public Media

A few years ago, Kansas City restaurateur Anton Kotar surveyed the local and national restaurant scenes and concluded his town’s reputation as a steakhouse paradise had slipped.

The problem, he says, is the way conventional beef is raised – bulked up with grain on feedlots, making it cheap and plentiful and changing what Americans expect to taste.

KDHE

A lawyer who spearheaded Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood will take charge of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment next week. 

Darian Dernovish will become interim head of the agency on Jan. 8, Brownback’s office said Wednesday. He will replace Susan Mosier, who has held the job since December 2014. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Ambulances are often considered a prime example of the excessively high cost of medical care in the United States. One ride can cost more than a trip from Kansas City to Hawaii.

But David Slusky, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas, thinks he may have found something surprising that’s reducing ambulance use: the ride-hailing company Uber.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Osawatomie State Hospital is again eligible for millions of dollars in federal Medicare payments after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recertified its acute care center.

The state psychiatric hospital lost its certification in December 2015 after the reported rape of an employee exposed security concerns and staffing shortages. A subsequent inspection in May 2017 revealed problems with sanitation, infection control and fire safety.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In a corner of her house in Sparta in southwest Missouri, Jymie Jimerson has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband. On one side is a copy of Willie’s mid-’70s LP, “Red Headed Stranger.”

“When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie’s Red Headed Stranger,” Jimerson says. “I try to keep it up there as a reminder of better days.”

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

A few years ago, Renea Molden’s doctors told her they wanted to take her off hydrocodone pills. 

“I was mad,” Molden says. “I’ll be honest. I was mad. I was frustrated.”

The 39-year-old woman from Kansas City struggles with pain caused by fibromyalgia, herniated spinal discs and degenerative disc disease. She says the three opioid pills a day that doctors wanted her to stop taking seemed to be the only way she could make it through work, go shopping or even fix dinner.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ top health official is stepping down in January, the Governor’s Office announced Thursday.

Susan Mosier, a former state lawmaker, had led the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since late 2014 and previously served as the state’s Medicaid director.

It’s a familiar story in rural America. Four years ago the Pemiscot County hospital, the lone public hospital in Missouri’s poorest county, nearly closed. What’s keeping it in business today has also become increasingly common in rural healthcare: relationships with a handful of local pharmacies.


File Photo / Kansas News Service

Inspectors arrived Tuesday at Osawatomie State Hospital to determine whether the state-run psychiatric facility can regain its federal certification and, with it, its Medicare funding.

Osawatomie State Hospital lost its certification in December 2015 after a patient attacked a staff member, prompting an investigation that revealed staffing shortages and other issues that put patients and staff at risk.

Dr. Warner / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. to include comments from the CEO of McPherson Hospital.

Two Kansas hospitals have been selected to take part in a federal demonstration program aimed at ensuring access to health care in underserved areas.

The two, McPherson Hospital in McPherson and Morton County Health System in Elkhart, were among 13 nationwide chosen for the demonstration project being conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

mliu92 / Flickr - CC

Tummy troubles, belly burdens, gastrointestinal grievances — call them what you will, but no one likes having a stomachache. That goes double for children. Today, Drs. Natasha Burgert and Craig Friesen help us figure out when a soothing word is just what's needed to settle your youngster's upset stomach, or when it might be a harbinger of something more severe.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials seeking to renew KanCare are asking people covered by the privatized Medicaid program to trust them to make it better.

In a series of recent public hearings, state officials have assured providers and beneficiaries that KanCare 2.0 will fix the administrative and service-delivery problems that have plagued the current program since its inception.

Young, Healthy And Planning For Death

Nov 15, 2017

I’m 25. Most people my age don’t think about death, let alone how they would like to die. Except for the occasional bag of M&Ms I consume, I’m mostly healthy.


Phil Prater / Public Domain

On KCUR’s Central Standard, host Gina Kaufmann spoke to Reverend Debbie Buchholz, co-founder of Deaf International, and William Ennis, assistant professor of history at Gallaudet University, about the history of persecution against people with deafness in this country — and the milestones along the path to equal rights.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Medicaid expansion advocates say Kansas policymakers should take notice of elections this week in Maine and Virginia.

In Maine, lawmakers sent five expansion bills to Republican Gov. Paul LePage in recent years. He vetoed them all. So Maine voters took matters into their own hands Tuesday by overwhelmingly approving a ballot initiative authorizing expansion.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

President Trump has pledged to not make cuts to Medicare, the federal insurance program for seniors, but Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, acknowledges that changes are needed.

One of the program’s main funds, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, is expected to be depleted in 11 years.

On Monday, Verma was in Olathe, Kansas to talk with seniors about Medicare and encourage them to take part in Medicare open enrollment, which runs from October 15 through December 7.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Maita thinks he was seven years old when he and his family were forced out of their home in Bhutan.

Starting in the late 1980s, the Himalayan country began driving out people who were ethnically Nepali. They fled across the mountains to Nepal, where they were settled in impoverished refugee camps.

“I didn’t even know Nepal. I didn’t know anything about it,” Maita explains using sign language. “We didn’t have any food. We didn’t have any shelter. We needed help cause we were starving.”

Annie E. Casey Foundation

The childhood poverty rate in Kansas has been decreasing since 2014. But a recently released report from the national KidsCount organization shows that decrease isn’t evenly distributed across the state.

File photo

A federal judge in Kansas City on Friday denied Planned Parenthood’s request to block a Missouri regulation requiring its clinic in Columbia to have a so-called complication plan for medication abortions.

The Legislature enacted the requirement this summer after Gov. Eric Greitens called it into special session. Later the Department of Health and Senior Services issued a rule that an OB-GYN had to be on call 24/7 to treat complications from a medication abortion.

FIle Photo / Kansas News Service

Anecdotal evidence from prosecutors across the state indicates opioid abuse is growing in Kansas, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said, but he urged lawmakers not to forget the state’s ongoing methamphetamine problem.

Schmidt answered questions about the issue Thursday from a panel of lawmakers in Topeka.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

The University of Kansas Health System and Nashville-based Ardent Health Services announced Wednesday that they have completed the purchase of St. Francis Health in Topeka.

No one at the hospital in Fulton, Missouri (population 12,790) had ever heard of a management consultant named Jorge Perez until he showed up at its potluck in September.


Creative Commons-Pixabay

Two community health care providers in the Lawrence area hope a merger will help them offer stable medical resources to more residents of the Douglas County region.

Health Care Access, which has served the poor and uninsured of Douglas County for 29 years, will merge early next year with Heartland Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center that serves the same area. Both will fall under the Heartland name.

File photo / KCUR 89.3

Thwarted in its attempt to block one part of Missouri’s newest abortion law, Planned Parenthood has now filed a second lawsuit challenging another part of the law, one involving medication abortions.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

agilemktg1 / Flickr — CC

There’s some good news and some bad news for Missourians purchasing marketplace healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act.

The good news: Those eligible for premium subsidies will see no increase in their premiums. In fact, a 40-year-old non-smoker earning $30,000 a year will see a 2.7 percent reduction of his or her premiums to $201 a month.

The bad news: Those not eligible for subsidies will see premium increases ranging from 12 percent to 50 percent for the benchmark silver plan.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Emily Dumler, a Shawnee, Kansas, resident who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, successfully underwent immunotherapy more than two years ago.

Dumler was among the first people in the world to receive the treatment, which stimulates the immune system to fight cancer. But she had to travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to receive it.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

A company that challenged the no-bid contract awarded to Cerner Corp. to update the electronic health records system of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit.

CliniComp International Inc. of San Diego on Monday filed a notice of appeal after the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., last week threw out its lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds.

Because many of the documents in the case are sealed, including the court’s orders, the precise reasons for the case’s dismissal were not made public.

File photo

A Jackson County judge on Monday declined to block a Missouri law requiring abortion physicians to meet with their patients three days before the procedure.

In rejecting a challenge to the law by Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Jackson County Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett found that the requirement did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

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