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.

Preferred Family Healthcare

Top executives of a Missouri nonprofit bribed and organized fundraisers for  Missouri and Arkansas politicians as part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to loot the company for their personal benefit, according to court documents filed last week.  

The nonprofit, Springfield-based Preferred Family Healthcare, directed an employee to organize fundraisers for “several candidates running for seats in the Missouri State Senate, Missouri House of Representatives and the Greene County Commission,” according to the documents.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt acknowledges that a multi-state attack on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could wipe out some popular consumer protections.

But, Schmidt said, he believes Congress will step in to preserve certain parts of the law if he and 19 other Republican attorneys general succeed in striking down the individual mandate — that everybody buy coverage or face a fine on their tax return — as unconstitutional.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal appeals court ruling in Missouri earlier this week significantly escalated the legal battle over abortion rights, reduced the number of clinics performing surgical abortions in the state to one – in St. Louis – and may be the decision that puts abortion rights back in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where Brett Kavanaugh may or may not be among the sitting justices.

Nicole Smith-Holt’s son Alec was 23 when he started feeling sick. His muscles cramped. He was lethargic. He woke up multiple times every night to use the bathroom. After two weeks, Smith-Holt encouraged him to go to urgent care.


Charlie's House

A Kansas City nonprofit group is building a house that its leaders hope will help save the lives of young children.

The Charlie’s House Safety Demonstration Home on Hospital Hill aims to provide a model for making a home safe for young children – everything from securing furniture to storing firearms.

“We believe that people learn by seeing and learn by first-hand,” says Cindy Mense, a board member of Charlie’s House, which is based in Kansas City.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

Segment 1: Methamphetamine epidemic of the 90s hasn't gone away in Missouri, it's gotten worse.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Registered nurses at 15 hospitals owned by the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain — including Research Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center — have voted to authorize a strike if contract negotiations remain at an impasse.

The 15 hospitals in Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Texas and Nevada are owned by HCA Healthcare Inc. and employ about 7,000 RNs affiliated with the National Nurses Organizing Committee, or NNOC.

Segment 1: The history behind Brush Creek and where it is today.

On this episode, we find out how Brush Creek, a once natural body of water, became a dual-purpose sewage system and recreation area. Hint: it starts with Pendergast and cement.

Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department

Starting in the mid-1990s, Capt. Dan Cummings worked as an undercover cop going after meth suppliers in his hometown of Independence, Missouri.

He had grown up seeing what meth could do, so for him the work was personal.

“When I was a kid, a cousin brought a bag of this white powder in and said, ‘Man, hey, you gotta try this stuff. Man, you can go forever,’” Cummings says. “He did. He’s now passed on.”

Donald and Laurie Draughon

When a federal judge decided in July that the Veterans Health Administration was liable for the death of an Iraq veteran who was treated at the VA and later killed himself, it was thought to be one of the few instances nationwide where the VA has been held directly responsible for a veteran’s suicide.

Now the federal government is appealing that verdict.

A notice of appeal filed Wednesday said the United States is seeking review of the judgment by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, as well as her findings of fact and conclusions of law.

If the experience of getting a bat stuck in your house or office isn’t unpleasant enough, Kansas health officials say it also means you should go get checked for rabies.

File photo

Planned Parenthood’s midtown Kansas City clinic can no longer perform medication abortions after its license officially expired on Aug. 10.

Clinic officials say they sought timely renewal of its license, but state health officials delayed it after saying they were unable to conduct a complete inspection of the facility in June.

The clinic had no abortion provider on the premises at the time, having stopped performing medication abortions on March 29 when its previous provider left.

University of Kansas

In their quest to understand how bacteria like E. coli and salmonella become antibiotic resistant, researchers at the University of Kansas have made a discovery that may hold important implications for future treatments.

It turns out the types of proteins that help shield some bacteria cells from antibiotics may have evolved independently rather than from a common ancestor, as has been commonly thought. And that discovery may lead to a more refined approach to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Like many people who can’t afford medical care, Larissa Shively-Vitt of Shawnee, Kansas, has been spending a lot of time online lately, trying to tell her story and raise money through crowdfunding.

Medical expenses are the category most often used on GoFundMe, which is the largest crowdfunding platform. And in recent years, campaigns have snowballed for one particular kind of medical care: gender confirmation surgery.

Segment 1: There are a lot of acronyms in education. How do those phrases affect kids?

In the education world, 'STEM learning' refers to an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math. Shortly afterwards, arts and reading were thrown into the mix changing the acronym from STEM to STEAM and now STREAM. On this episode, we dive into a conversation on how terminology and buzzwords shape modern learning.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Segment 1: After the incumbent's endorsement, Kris Kobach emerges as the GOP nominee to face Greg Orman and Laura Kelly in November's midterm.

With the field set for this fall's gubernatorial election in Kansas, the three campaigns left standing will turn their full attention to winning in November. Before we follow suit, we invited political watchers in Topeka to consider the implications a Kobach-Hartman ticket will have on down-ballot Republicans hoping to appeal to moderate voters.

Boxes are piled high in Anne Hickman’s hallway. Family photos peek out from behind the stacks in her one-bedroom Indianapolis apartment.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

In the latest in an ever growing pile of legal challenges, the principals behind a questionable lab billing scheme at 10 small rural hospitals in Missouri, Kansas, and three other states have been sued by a Mission Hills couple for fraud and conspiracy.

The couple, James and Phyllis Shaffer, allege the defendants fraudulently took majority control of a company, HMC Hospitals, that owns the hospitals and used them as “instrumentalities in the operation of an illegal billing scheme.”

Segment 1: Study on black, queer-identifying men takes new approach to research.

A new study spearheaded by a local grassroots organization conducted a comprehensive health and wellness assessment for black, queer-identifying men in Kansas City. We hear about what they learned.

  • D. Rashaan Gilmore, president and founder, BlaqOut

Segment 2, beginning at 21:36: The status of women's baseball in Kansas City.

Segment 1: First time voters share their thoughts on voting in the primary.

We visit with first time voters to find out what their experience voting in the primary elections was like and if the physical experience of voting met their expectations.

File photo

The owner of four hospitals in the Kansas City area and its chief executive have agreed to pay the federal government $65 million to settle a whistleblower suit alleging the company defrauded Medicare.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Prime Healthcare Services falsely billed Medicare by unnecessarily admitting patients at 14 of its California hospitals when they should have been treated in an outpatient setting. Reimbursements are higher for admitted patients than for outpatients.

Prime will pay the bulk of the settlement; its CEO, Prem Reddy, will pay $3.25 million.

Christiaan Colen / Creative Commons-Flickr

Officials at a medical practice in Blue Springs say they are taking steps to strengthen privacy protections after a ransomware attack affected nearly 45,000 patients.

Blue Springs Family Care discovered in May that hackers had installed malware and ransomware encryption programs on its computer system, giving them full access to patient records.

Ransomware is a kind of malware that locks up a computer. The attackers typically demand a ransom, often in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, as a condition of unlocking the computer and allowing access to the system.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Several members of a task force formed by Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer to address the opioid crisis claim his refusal to consider Medicaid expansion undermines their work.

Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division

Segment 1: Controversy in Missouri and Kansas foster care. 

The foster care systems in Missouri and Kansas have been making headlines lately. In Missouri, the prescribing and administering of psychotropic drugs is at the center of litigation that just became a class action case. In Kansas, the Adoption Protection Act allows smaller agencies to deny potential parents adoption or fostering based on the agency's religious beliefs. We got an update on what's happening on both sides of the state line. 

Medical tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry. It's where countries or cities become known for a certain kind of medical procedure and attract patients as visitors. And with these visitors comes money. Are local health institutions trying to push Kansas City as THE place to be if you need a liver transplant? And is this practice ethically problematic?

Guests:

BigStock

A lawsuit charging Missouri officials have failed to properly oversee the administration of psychotropic medications to children in foster care was certified Thursday as a class action.

UMKC student Ravi Anand Naidu wearing headphones and seated in front of a microphone at KCUR studios.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Does Kansas City have a bad reputation within the Indian community? 

Indian nationals coming to America often have to worry about immigration hurdles and racism. Two violent incidents since 2017 in the Kansas City metro have added violence to their list of concerns. Most recently, Sharath Koppu, a UMKC student from India was shot and killed during a robbery at the restaurant where he worked. Today, representatives of the Indian community revealed their views of living here.

Segment 1: Are we taking the wrong approach to education research?

Results-oriented education research often overlooks the side effects that accompany common teaching practices. We learn how the approach medical research makes can help educators avoid damaging policies from the start.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

When Cody Goodwin, of Independence, Missouri, was 24, he had already been hooked on opioids, including heroin, for years. His sister decided jail was the only way he could be cut off from drugs, so she reported him to the police.

Kevin Collison

The long-vacant Wheatley-Provident Hospital, an important landmark in the Kansas City African-American community, has been purchased by a development group with plans to renovate it as offices.

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