Kansas News Service | KCUR

Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots regarding the policies, issues and events that affect the health of Kansans and their communities. The team is based at KCUR and collaborates with public media stations and other news outlets across Kansas. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

The Kansas News Service is made possible by a group of funding organizations, led by the Kansas Health Foundation. Other funders include United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday granted a six-month delay in enforcement of a new rule applying federal minimum wage and overtime provisions to home care workers employed by so-called “self-directed” Medicaid consumers.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

An international aid organization based in Lenexa, Kan., on Tuesday announced plans to operate a medical facility in Liberia to treat Ebola victims.

Heart to Heart International CEO Jim Mitchum says running the 70-bed Ebola treatment unit will be the largest and most challenging humanitarian effort the organization has ever undertaken. It will cost approximately $6 million to operate the facility, which should open in November, for six months.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

State officials are intensifying their efforts to help Kansans with disabilities get jobs.

But advocates in the disability community are skeptical that an initiative announced Monday will be enough to reverse a recent trend that has seen a steady decline in the number of Kansans with disabilities placed in jobs.

The initiative, dubbed “End-Dependence Kansas,” will provide $25 million in mostly federal funds over the next five years to organizations that operate programs that help people with disabilities find employment.

Contrary to rumors on the Internet over the last few days, health providers and officials say there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Kansas City.

A spokesperson with HCA Midwest says that a man rushed to Research Medical Center’s Brookside campus over the weekend did not have the disease.

Hospital officials declined to disclose his diagnosis but say he is responding well to treatment.

KU Medical Center Gets $10M For Rural Obesity Study

Oct 6, 2014

The University of Kansas Medical Center will receive $10 million in federal funding to compare the effectiveness of obesity treatment models in rural communities.

The money is from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which was created through the Affordable Care Act. Professor Christie Befort's study will track approximately 1,400 patients in rural Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Kaiser Health News

 

Twenty hospitals in the Kansas City area will be penalized by Medicare starting Oct. 1 for excessive readmissions, although eight of them will be hit with lower fines than in Medicare’s previous round of penalties.

Saint Luke’s East Hospital in Lee’s Summit will get hit with the biggest fine, 2.08 percent of its Medicare reimbursements, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News of data released this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

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Former Sen. Bob Dole is campaigning for Pat Roberts in his Senate re-election effort, but on the issue Dole has been most vocal about lately — the U.S. signing on to a United Nations agreement solidifying the rights of people with disabilities — Roberts’ opponent seems more in line with Dole's views.

A former state senator confirmed Thursday that he was contacted by FBI agents looking into allegations of “pay-to-play” deals in state government.

Dick Kelsey, a Republican who represented the Goddard area until 2012, said the FBI questions centered on David Kensinger, a longtime political adviser and former chief of staff for Gov. Sam Brownback.

“The FBI called me,” Kelsey said. “They wanted to talk to me and did a number of times, along with an in-person, two-hour interview. The investigation is very real.”

Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

A new health care partnership, looked upon as a potential model for the rest of the country, is taking direct aim at heart disease and stroke in northwest Kansas.

The federally funded initiative - the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative — encompasses the University of Kansas Hospital along with 13 rural health centers and hospitals, including Hays Medical Center. Heart disease and stroke are responsible for about 20 percent of the deaths in the state.

Todd Feeback / The Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

If the idea of music therapy brings to mind 1960s-era folk singers warbling to bemused patients, you haven’t seen Deanna Hanson-Abromeit at work.

At Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City, the University of Kansas assistant professor sings a good morning song to Daren, a curious, if slightly cautious, infant. 

The tune is a simple one, and the singer bubbles over with enthusiasm, but her musical interventions are more of a conversation than a performance.

Crisis Intervention Center To Open In Topeka

Oct 1, 2014

The community mental health center in Topeka on Thursday will formally open a 26-bed crisis intervention center that’s expected to lead to fewer mentally ill adults being referred to Osawatomie State Hospital or ending up in jail.

Andy Marso / KHI News

Legislators who passed a health care compact in Kansas said changes to Medicare were not the impetus, but a “Medicare coach” told a Johnson County crowd Tuesday night that the originator of the multi-state compact favors Medicare privatization.

Michael Price / KCPT

The state of Kansas City's mental health care services is dire, according to a new documentary.

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Michael Price's Lost Minds: KC's Mental Health Crisis focuses on the growing number of fraught confrontations between severely mentally ill people and police on Kansas City's streets. The locally produced documentary airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on KCPT. 

The top Democrats on the KanCare Oversight Committee on Monday called for a separate committee to be appointed to study whether any legal or ethical boundaries were crossed when Gov. Sam Brownback's administration contracted with three managed care organizations to privatize Medicaid.

Ruling On In-Home Medicaid Services Raises Concerns

Sep 29, 2014
Bridgit Bowden / KCPT

 

Karen Barezinsky is looking for an answer to what she says is a simple question: Are the people who run Kansas’ Medicaid program planning to cut the supports she and her husband use to keep her son, Ray Santin, who’s paralyzed from his neck down, out of a nursing home?

“I can’t find out anything,” says Karen, 62, who lives in Scranton, Kan., with her husband and son. “I leave messages with Ray’s case manager, but nobody calls me back.”

Courtesy / University of Kansas Hospital

A plan to redistribute donor livers from areas where donor numbers are higher, like Kansas City and the South, to organ-needy coastal areas is on hold after protests from members of Congress representing the areas that would have seen transplant wait times increase.

Johnson County announced Thursday that it has hired a new director for its mental health center.

The new hire is Tim DeWeese, a longtime staff member of the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

For nearly the past two years, DeWeese has served as director of clinical services, overseeing the largest operating division of the center. He has also served the center as director of community support services and as a crisis case-management team leader.

Alex Smith / KCUR

The Latino population has been booming in Kansas in places where growth is otherwise stagnant.

Today, one in 10 Kansans is Latino. But there’s a big disconnect between that growing community and the health care system, according to Paula Cupertino.

She’s the Brazil-born director of Juntos, a group based at the University of Kansas Medical Center that examines Latino health in Kansas. She answered four questions as part of our monthly series, KC Checkup. 

A total of 23 Johnson County legislators — all Republicans — signed onto an op-ed in the October edition of The Best Times, a magazine for seniors in the county, that praises the health care compact bill.

The rebuttal comes after a weeks-long disagreement between legislators who supported the compact and members of the Johnson County Commission on Aging, who wrote an article that appears on the previous page criticizing the compact for its potential effects on Medicare.

A group of Republican legislators who supported a health care compact bill has been granted space in a Johnson County newsletter for an editorial article saying the compact saves Medicare.

The editorial, to run in the October edition of The Best Times, is meant to counter a piece critical of the compact written by members of the county's commission on aging, a group of eight senior volunteers appointed by Johnson County commissioners.

Consumers in Missouri and Kansas should see more companies offering coverage through the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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