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.

Bram Sable-Smith / Side Effects Public Media and KBIA

Another hospital led by EmpowerHMS, the North Kansas City company that has defaulted on its bills and missed payroll at its hospitals over the last couple of months, is under new management.

City officials said that Fulton Medical Center, a 37-bed acute-care hospital in Fulton, Missouri, is now being run by a management team led by its CEO, Mike Reece.

Surrounded by patients who told horror stories of being stuck with hefty bills, President Trump recently waded into a widespread health care problem for which almost all people — even those with insurance — are at risk: surprise medical billing.

Trump's declaration that taming unexpected bills would be a top priority for his administration echoed through the halls of Congress, where a handful of Republican and Democratic lawmakers had already been studying the problem.

MGN Online

Segment 1: Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is asking for more than 300 new intake workers to address a backlog of applications to the state's Medicaid program.

Burns & McDonnell / Copaken Brooks

Segment 1: Commercial real estate projects are surging throughout the metro.

Major developments popping up in the Plaza, Crossroads, and downtown may not be changing the skyline (yet), but they are making Kansas City "taller." Today, the city's foremost reporter on downtown development shared details on new and in-the-works office buildings, apartments, and hotels, and discussed how "downtown is becoming a more dense and vibrant place."

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The University of Kansas Hospital is one of 38 hospitals across the country challenging a rule cutting Medicare rates for outpatient hospital sites to match the lower rates paid to physicians’ offices.

Under the rule, which took effect Jan. 1, Medicare will pay the same rates for medical services regardless of whether they’re provided in a physician’s office or in a hospital department that’s off the main campus of the hospital.

When it comes to vaccinating adolescents, Missouri ranks among the worst in the nation.

The report from the nonprofit United Health Foundation ranks Missouri 48th in the U.S. for overall adolescent vaccinations. Doctors say the pattern may be linked to a more widespread trend of “vaccine hesitancy” among parents in the U.S.

AdventHealth

The health system formerly known as Shawnee Mission Health is expanding its presence in Johnson County, saying it will break ground in the fall on an 85-bed hospital in south Overland Park, Kansas.

AdventHealth, as it rebranded itself earlier this month, also plans to open an outpatient health facility later this year at the corner of College Boulevard and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park and a medical office building in Merriam, Kansas.

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A Marion County, Kansas, judge on Friday appointed a receiver to run Hillsboro Community Hospital after its lender moved to foreclose on the 15-bed facility earlier this month.

The judge found that “immediate and irreparable harm is likely to result if a receiver is not appointed to operate and manage the Hospital in order to ensure that it remains open and retains as much of its value as possible.”

Wikimedia-Creative Commons

While working as an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii, Dr. Diane Payne had treated one person with a gunshot wound in three years. But when she moved to Atlanta in 2013, Payne said it was like treating gunshot victims was suddenly all she was doing.

“I was shocked by the number of gun-related injuries that we’re seeing and taking care of here,” said Payne, who works at Atlanta’s busy downtown trauma center, Grady Memorial Hospital.

In 2013, Grady treated more than 600 gunshot victims.

Seg. 1: Smoking & Vaping Culture. Seg. 2: Carmaletta Williams

Jan 18, 2019

Segment 1: Cultural shifts in smoking and vaping.

With smoking banned in most public places — and vaping on the rise among teens — we look at the changing nature of smoking culture.

  • Chris Young, millennial smoker and KCUR assistant event producer
  • Kevin Kufeldt, program manager, Adolescent Center for Treatment at the Johnson County Mental Health Center

Segment 2, beginning at 33:30: Meet the new director of an organization dedicated to preserving local history.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Rates of youth suicide are higher in states with high gun ownership, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers studied 10 years of teenage suicide rates and found that gun ownership "is a factor that really is highly predictive for what the youth suicide rate is going to be," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and one of the paper's authors.

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An eleventh-hour payment of $16,644 for delinquent utility bills averted a threatened cutoff of electricity at tiny Hillsboro Community Hospital in central Kansas.

The city, 50 miles north of Wichita and home to about 3,000 people, said in a brief news release that it gave notice to the hospital on Jan. 8 that it would shut off utilities effective at noon Friday. It received the payment in the morning.

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One patient was billed more than $100,000 after being transferred out of state for treatment of encephalitis.

Another got a bill for $25,000 after being kicked by a horse, which caused a traumatic eye injury requiring hospital treatment.

A third was socked with a bill for more than $24,000 after a trip to a nearby hospital following a motor vehicle accident.

City of Hillsboro, Kansas

Rural hospitals affiliated with North Kansas City-based EmpowerHMS are struggling to meet their financial obligations, leaving employees and vendors holding the bag.

Various news outlets have reported that EmpowerHMS hospitals in Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas have failed to meet payroll or defaulted on their rent and utility payments.

Two Rivers Behavioral Health System, a free-standing psychiatric hospital in south Kansas City, will close on Feb. 9 and lay off 129 nurses, therapists and other employees.

The 105-bed facility at 5121 Raytown Road opened in 1986 and treated children, adolescents and adults for psychiatric and substance use disorders.

Susan Fitzpatrick, the hospital’s business director, said the decision to close the hospital was made by its corporate parent, Universal Health Services of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

KCUR health reporter Alex Smith has snagged a prestigious international fellowship that will enable him to study the effects of social isolation on health and life expectancy.

The 2019 AHCJ (Association of Health Care Journalists) International Health Study Fellowship will pay for Smith to travel to London to examine how the United Kingdom, which recently kicked off a national campaign to combat social isolation, is addressing the problem.

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A Lenexa chiropractic clinic and its two owner-operators are being sued by the federal government for defrauding Medicare.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, names Kansas City Health & Wellness Clinic, Ryan Schell and Tyler Schell. It seeks triple damages under the federal False Claims Act.

The lawsuit alleges the Schells, who are brothers, billed Medicare for peripheral neuropathy treatments that are not covered by the program and for treatments they did not provide at all.  

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Shivering outside her home on a freezing day in Park Hills, Loretta Boesing explains that weather in eastern Missouri can be all over the map.

“It’s crazy,” Boesing says. “We sometimes experience temperatures like they would feel in Arizona. Sometimes we experience temperatures like they would feel up north.”

Boesing worries about how those temperature extremes affect the prescription drugs that many people receive via mail-order delivery.

www.mied.uscourts.gov

A pediatric rheumatologist who once worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor.

In his guilty plea agreement in September, Mark Franklin Hoeltzel admitted that he created a fake Facebook persona under the name “Ryan Gardner” to contact minor girls, including an 8th grader from whom he requested sexually explicit photographs.

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Nearly 5,000 women in Missouri were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, the last year for which figures are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 130 cases per 100,000 women, making breast cancer the leading type of cancer for Missouri women by far – nearly two-and-a-half times the diagnosis rate for lung cancer.

The incidence of breast cancer in Kansas isn’t much lower – about 124 cases per 100,000 women.

Segment 1: Autism in adults, from diagnosis to intervention.

Many of the therapies available for people on the autism spectrum are geared towards children, but what if you weren't diagnosed until you were 60? One woman's story sheds light on the challenges that arise for adults diagnosed with autism later in life.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Not gonna hear it

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it would not consider a case involving Planned Parenthood and the state of Kansas.

That means Kansas and Louisiana can still decide which medical providers appear competent enough to take on Medicaid patients.

But more notably, states’ power to exclude a clinic on other grounds — if, for instance, it provides abortion services — are limited.

Kyle Cassidy / Wikimedia Commons

Public radio star Peter Sagal has not always been the dedicated long-distance runner he is today. After competing on his high school cross-country team, 25 years would pass before he took exercising seriously again. What started out as a goal to get healthy, led to 14 marathon finishes. Today, Sagal talked about the lessons he's learned, and how his running helped him get a handle on life during hard times.

Segment 1: What medical marijuana looks like in practice.

Missouri votes approved Amendment 2 in November, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the state. So what happens next? We'll talk about all the hoops that have to be jumped through before dispensaries start opening in our area.

Missouri News Horizon / Creative Commons-Flickr

Former Missouri state Sen. Ryan Silvey received more than $170,000 in contributions over a four-year period from the executives of a nonprofit that is the focus of a long-running federal investigation, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Segment 1: Turning a life of cystic fibrosis into art.

Last time we spoke with artist Dylan Mortimer, he was coming off of a seemingly successful lung transplant and breathing freely for the first time in his life. Now his body is rejecting those donor lungs. Hear insights into his artistic, emotional, and physical journey as he awaits a second transplant and continues to exceed his life expectancy. 

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This story was updated at 5:02 pm to include comments from a representative of Hooper Holmes.

Hooper Holmes Inc., an Olathe, Kansas, provider of health and wellness services, is laying off 99 employees in that city. The publicly traded company earlier this year sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sold its assets to Quest Diagnostics.

Bigstock

Kansas has agreed to cover the cost of drugs to treat Medicaid patients with chronic hepatitis C without subjecting them to a lengthy list of requirements.

A legal settlement, which awaits final court approval, resolves a class action lawsuit alleging the state made it too difficult for hepatitis C patients to receive the potentially life-saving treatments.

Seg. 1: Food Safety & Feeding The Homeless. Seg. 2: They Call Me Sauce

Nov 15, 2018

Segment 1: Food safety and feeding the homelessness in Kansas City.

The Kansas City Health Department recently intercepted food intended for the homeless out of concern for food safety, then used bleach to ensure it would not be consumed. The story has gone viral, generating a heated discussion in the metro and beyond. On this episode, we address the underlying tensions about how to help, and the needs in our community still going unmet -- with upwards of 4,000 people enduring homelessness.

BNIM

A new downtown YMCA, a huge civic endeavor in the making for seven years, is scheduled to begin construction Friday in the former Lyric Theater building. Completion is expected in spring 2021.

The $35 million Y will incorporate the front facade and lobby of the historic theater at 1029 Central and build a 42,000 square-foot addition behind it, bringing to downtown a host of health-related activities including a family pool and lap pool, medical clinic, gymnasium and suspended indoor track.

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