Dan Margolies | KCUR

Dan Margolies

Health and Legal Affairs Editor

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.

Ways to Connect

Christopher Smith / Kaiser Health News

Rural hospitals face “catastrophic cash shortages” brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and need congressional action to save them, according to a Leawood, Kansas, advocacy group that represents hundreds of rural hospitals.

In a letter Monday addressed to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, the National Rural Health Association asks that 20% of the $100 billion in funding for hospitals in the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill passed by Congress last month, be set aside for rural providers.  

Daniel Ortiz

With Kansas hospitals anticipating a surge of COVID-19 patients over the next few weeks, 52 fourth-year medical students at the University of Kansas have volunteered to graduate early in order to ease the growing burden on physicians.

“I just read these stories about everyone getting overwhelmed and the need for help,” says Daniel Ortiz, one of the students. He plans to become a psychiatrist, but he’s putting off those plans for now to help combat the pandemic. “I started thinking, ‘What is it that I could do?’ I didn’t want to sit by and do nothing.”

Lexie Huelskamp / Courtesy of Rob Schulte

Rob Schulte, a registered nurse at Research Medical Center, was taking care of a patient with COVID-19 symptoms and wearing a surgical mask but thought he needed the additional protection of an N95 medical mask.

So he asked his supervisor for permission to don one. Her response, according to Schulte: If she let him wear one to treat a patient who had not been confirmed with the disease, everyone at the hospital would be asking for one.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As April's rent becomes due across the Kansas City metro, tenants face an uncertain legal landscape subject to the vagaries of the coronavirus and how soon its spread can be stopped.

That's been the case for tenants such as Erin White, who rents an apartment in Skyler Ridge, a 200-unit complex on 115th Street just west of Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.

Jodi Fortino / KCUR 89.3

Although it was set to close its retail stores on Friday evening because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nebraska Furniture Mart’s sprawling distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas, will remain open for business.

The 650,000-square-foot warehouse fulfills online and telephone orders and employs approximately 400 people who work in three shifts, with 100 to 150 working at any given time.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As COVID-19 begins to spread in the Kansas City area, health care workers and hospitals say they are struggling with a lack of resources as they try to prepare for a potentially huge demand for care.

Citing concerns about shortage of both medical equipment and staff, the Missouri State Medical Association this week sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson urging him to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order.

Bigstock

Amid concerns that prisoners face a heightened risk of exposure to the coronavirus, a public interest law firm wants Missouri to release prisoners whose parole has been revoked — in many cases on technicalities.

In an emergency motion filed Wednesday, the Chicago-based MacArthur Justice Center says that prisons and jails are notoriously unsanitary and are not isolated environments, with attorneys, correctional officers, medical personnel and visitors entering and leaving on a daily basis.

Google Maps

Although only “essential” businesses are supposed to remain open under stay-at-home orders now in effect in the Kansas City area, some businesses appear to have adopted a loose definition of the term.

The 700,000-square-foot Guitar Center distribution center in the Northland is one of them. The sprawling facility employs hundreds of people to fulfill online orders for musical instruments and musical gear.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

A jump in prescriptions being issued for drugs touted as possible treatments for COVID-19 has prompted two Missouri health agencies to issue guidelines concerning their use.

In a joint statement, the Missouri Board of Pharmacy and the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts said concerns had been raised that “this activity may lead to stockpiling of medication, inappropriate use and potential drug shortages for patients with a legitimate need.”

KU Hospital

As the coronavirus continues its relentless spread, hospitals are making tough decisions about postponing or canceling elective procedures.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended that providers consider a range of factors in determining whether to postpone surgery or other procedures. They include patient risk, urgency of the procedure, bed availability, staffing and the availability of personal protective equipment.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As federal and state courts cancel in-person proceedings amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, one court remains open for business, albeit not entirely as usual.

The immigration court in Kansas City, the only such court in Missouri, is continuing to hold hearings for detained immigrants, although it’s no longer conducting hearings for people not in custody.

But the confined space of its three courtrooms, located in an office building in Crown Center, don’t realistically allow for the “social distancing” recommended by public health officials.

Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Updated: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18

Kansas City, Missouri, announced its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.

At a news conference broadcast by KCTV-5, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said people should continue practicing social distancing.

“In some ways, we were a bit surprised by the amount of time it took to officially arrive but we certainly recognize that we are at a point now where I think folks need to even double down further … following those good hygiene practices,” Lucas said.

Viracor Eurofins

A clinical diagnostics lab in Lee’s Summit has developed a test for the novel coronavirus and says it's more than 99% accurate.

Viracor Eurofins, which was founded in 1983, says it's capable of performing more than 1,000 tests per day and returning results the same day. The test will allow clinicians to expand testing to patients who currently don't meet the eligibility criteria for public laboratory testing established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Houses of worship in the Kansas City metro are canceling services and other activities as states, cities and businesses take drastic steps to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

Google Maps

Supermarket chain Hy-Vee is closing its Kansas City fulfillment center, resulting in the loss of nearly 600 jobs.

The West Des Moines-based company said in a notification under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) that it had made “the difficult decision to permanently discontinue all operations” at the fulfillment center, which is located at 8700 Elmwood Ave., effective May 6.  

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

As Kansas City proposes to slash nearly $900,000 from the budget of the city’s tourism agency, it appears to be leaving at least that much on the table because it doesn’t collect lodging taxes from Airbnb and other short-term guest rentals.

U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas

A panel that reviews judicial misconduct has ended its investigation of U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia because he resigned, but it said his misconduct was serious enough to warrant possible referral to Congress for impeachment.

In an 11-page memorandum released Tuesday, the panel disclosed that the misconduct allegations against Murguia surfaced as far back as April 2016, when two fellow judges received reports that Murguia had sexually harassed one of his employees.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A federal judge has declined to dismiss most of the counts in a civil lawsuit brought by Lamonte McIntyre and his mother over his conviction for a double murder he did not commit and his subsequent 23-year imprisonment.

The blistering 70-page ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil came in response to motions to throw out the lawsuit by the defendants — the Unified Government of Wyandotte County; Roger Golubski, a now-retired Kansas City, Kansas, detective who was instrumental in framing McIntyre; and other policemen involved in the trumped-up investigation.

File photo by Mike Sherry

The University of Kansas has settled an age discrimination suit brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year after an employee was fired in retaliation for reporting on discriminatory hiring practices at the university’s medical center.

Under a consent decree filed last week, KU pledged not to discriminate against applicants or employees based on age and to pay Jeffrey Thomas, the employee who triggered the complaint, $144,000 in backpay and damages.

Courtesy Wilson Vance

Tenants of a landlord notorious for the festering conditions of its apartment units have won the right to sue  as a class.

Complaints by tenants of Ruskin Place Apartments, a 169-unit complex in south Kansas City, ranged from “vast amounts of water” leaking through windows, mold and sagging floors to inadequate heat, unsecured doors and “large critters” roaming through the units.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

In a major victory for consumers, a federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, is allowing a lawsuit over EpiPen price hikes to move ahead as a nationwide class action under the federal racketeering statute.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree also is allowing consumers to sue for damages under state antitrust laws.

The ruling was a setback for the main defendants in the case, Mylan NV and Pfizer Inc., which respectively sell and make the potentially life-saving auto-injector device. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Shares of Kansas City-area companies took a beating as U.S. markets took a dive Monday amid investor anxiety over the spread of the coronavirus and a surge of infections in South Korea and Italy.

Julie Denesha

A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, who was publicly reprimanded last year for workplace misconduct is resigning after more than 20 years on the bench.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia tendered his resignation effective April 1, 2020, in a letter to President Trump that was released by the federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Tuesday afternoon.  

Courtesy Dee Jackson

Former KSHB-TV Channel 41 sports anchor Demetrice “Dee” Jackson has settled his race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the station.

Jackson’s attorneys said the matter had been “resolved,” but declined further comment.

Jackson, who is no longer employed at the station, confirmed that the case was over and that he was “pleased with the end result.”

“I’m happy it’s been resolved,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty much all I can say off the top of my head without saying too much.”

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

On Feb. 6, 2018, Travis Claussen had his right hip replaced at Blue Valley Hospital in Overland Park.

The 40-year-old resident of Lawson, Missouri, had been experiencing severe back pain for years. Before then, he’d been a physical fitness buff who was into off-road motorcycle racing.

Courtesy Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Even in its early stages, the legal fight between the heirs of famed Kansas City artist Thomas Hart Benton and UMB Bank is shaping up as a battle royal.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel

A lawsuit stemming from the highly publicized expulsion of a Kansas City library patron from a public event nearly four years ago has drawn to an end after the judge ruled in favor of the lone remaining defendant.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips found for an off-duty police detective who arrested Jeremy Rothe-Kushel, a documentary filmmaker from Lawrence who sued the detective and 13 other defendants over the incident, which drew national headlines.

Associated Press

In their last Super Bowl appearance half a century ago, the Kansas City Chiefs achieved an upset in more ways than one.

Not only did they defeat the favored Minnesota Vikings 23-7, the game marked the first big break in law enforcement’s longstanding efforts to bring down the Kansas City mob.

Rich Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

A federal judge has refused to sign off on a deal that would cap the number of cases Missouri’s public defenders are allowed to handle.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey on Monday found that the proposed consent judgment between the ACLU of Missouri and the state’s public defender system was essentially unworkable.

The agreement, reached in May, set maximum caseloads for the state’s public defenders, limiting their hours to no more than 173.3 per month.

Google Maps

This week's closure of Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, caps a year of worse financial troubles than were previously known.

Over the last year, the hospital has been sued by vendors for nonpayment, by the Missouri Division of Employment Security for failing to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance program and, most recently, by employees for failing to pay their health insurance premiums.

“There’s considerably more to this story than what’s currently in the public domain,” said an attorney for the employees, North Kansas City lawyer Blake Green.

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