© 2021 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Up To Date

Health Officials' Burnout | Lansing Prison's Career Campus

Kansas Health Institute
Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino resigned from his position with the Shawnee County Health Department in December 2020 after the county commission modified emergency orders he had assigned.

Kansas and Missouri are losing public health workers to pandemic burnout, and the Lansing correctional facility is the future site of a career campus providing returning citizens with opportunities before and upon their release.

Segment 1, beginning at 4:53: As the pandemic deepens, health leaders in counties across the nation are leaving their jobs at an unprecedented rate.

According to an AP report, 1 in 8 Americans, roughly 40 million people, live in a county whose health department leader has left the job during the pandemic. Stress of the job compounded by backlash from communities has made these positions untenable. Gianfranco Pezzino says backlash was inevitable "when this became ideological," citing divisive sentiments in regards to masks and other health mandates.

Segment 2, beginning at 32:20: Returning citizens often face few opportunities and stigma following imprisonment.

The Kansas correctional facility in Lansing is to be the site of a planned career campus offering job training and mentorship. Partnering with local businesses like Menlo Inc., the idea is to prepare returning citizens with skills to help them land better jobs upon their release and curb recidivism.

Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.
Danie Alexander is the senior producer of Up To Date.