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public health

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Have you been tested for COVID-19 in Kansas, or have you tried? We want to hear from you. We’re also interested in hearing from health care workers about what they’re seeing in their clinics and hospitals, and from patients.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas is struggling to get its hands on the millions of N95 masks, surgical gowns and other protective gear it wants to shield first responders and health care workers against COVID-19.

Gov. Laura Kelly told reporters Monday that Kansas has been pursuing three routes to get more of those supplies, along with testing kits and ventilators.

A Century Ago, One Kansan Showed The World How To Fight Pandemics

Apr 6, 2020
The Journal

If Samuel Crumbine were alive today, he’d recognize the precautions that Kansans are taking to limit COVID-19.

There’s little doubt he would approve of the closing of schools, theaters and restaurants.

He would worry about Kansas hospitals and wonder if their staffs are prepared for a crisis.

But mostly, he’d be determining how, once again, the government could persuade the public to take seriously the threat of a global pandemic.

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio

Have you gotten tested for COVID-19 in Kansas, or have you tried? We want to hear from you. We’re also interested in hearing from health care workers about what they’re seeing in their clinics and hospitals, and from patients.

TOPEKA, Kansas — In many parts of Kansas, people not sick enough for hospitalization still can’t find out if they have COVID-19.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Dr. Joe Meier’s hospital in Wilson County has 15 beds, no intensive care unit and one ventilator. Two of his neighboring counties in southeast Kansas have no hospital at all, and another two have no ICU either.

So Meier has a plea to the residents of his region: Stay home.

"It's not a matter of 'if' (COVID-19) is going to hit here,' he said. "It’s a matter of when."

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Last week, Gov. Laura Kelly made her state’s children the first in the country sent home for the rest of the school year. This weekend, she took unilateral action to clear the way for more telemedicine, to temporarily license more health care workers and to let heavier trucks move on Kansas highways.

The orders, Kelly’s office said in a news release, “will make sure Kansas families can access needed care and supplies until we have weathered this storm.”

Courtesy of Kady McMaster

Segment 1: "I'm going to continue to work really hard, I'm just going to do it from home," said U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids.

Despite deciding to self-quarantine after potential exposure to the novel coronavirus, Kansas' U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids said she's still working to ensure any stimulus package out of the Capitol prioritizes people who need it most. She also emphasized the importance of practicing social distancing, listening to public health officials and taking the coronavirus situation seriously.

Courtesy of Kady McMaster

Segment 1: "I'm going to continue to work really hard, I'm just going to do it from home," said U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids.

Despite deciding to self-quarantine after potential exposure to the novel coronavirus, Kansas' U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids said she's still working to ensure any stimulus package out of the Capitol prioritizes people who need it most. She also emphasized the importance of practicing social distancing, listening to public health officials and taking the coronavirus situation seriously.

Segment 1: How local churches are finding their way in the midst of coronavirus

Houses of worship have long served as a safe place for some people to gather in times of fear and uncertainty. But when large gatherings pose a threat to health, where do people turn? Today, we learn what three local churches are doing to serve their congregants while ensuring their health and safety are protected.

Segment 1: Answering your medical questions about coronavirus

The spread of coronavirus has monopolized the world’s attention and people have a lot of questions, understandably. Today, two medical experts look to answer them, and clear up some of the panic.

Segment 1: Inequality in the story of lead contamination and lead removal.

Homes in Kansas City's oldest and one-time affluent neighborhoods are now lived in by people without the resources to remove the lead paint commonly used before its dangers were known. Plus, how the rise and fall of lead mining has affected a part of Missouri known as the Lead Belt. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Workers at the Lenexa, Kansas-based global humanitarian relief organization Heart to Heart International are deploying to the Marshall Islands to help prepare residents there for potential coronavirus infections.

The team from Heart to Heart prepared to leave on Saturday after receiving a request from the World Health Organization to assist in the isolated islands in the Pacific, part of the larger island group of Micronesia.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Republican legislative leaders blocking a push to give Medicaid coverage to about 130,000 more Kansans say they fear the expansion’s impact on publicly funded abortions. Other Republicans and Democrats reject that argument as a red herring.

The Kansas News Service has learned that Medicaid has paid for a total of four abortions in the state between Jan. 1, 2013, and this month.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A proposal to ban all fruity and sweet vaping flavors in Kansas has upset both pro-vaping and anti-tobacco groups.

Hundreds of popular flavors would disappear. Menthol would remain. The flavor restrictions wouldn’t apply to traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes.

How To Be Less Lonely

Dec 23, 2019
Alex Smith / KCUR

A nationwide campaign is looking for solutions to loneliness.

For some of us, the holidays are full of family and friends. But this can also a lonely time of year for many. Health experts say loneliness can be hazardous to our health, though, and researchers in the United Kingdom are taking it seriously.

Join KCUR health reporter Alex Smith for an exploration of the UK's national program to address loneliness and find out what we in the Midwest can learn about fixing the problem.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — What if researchers could go to a single hub for vast deposits of information on a range of issues from water quality to court rulings to the medicinal powers of marijuana?

Armed with all that existing research, they might begin to draw conclusions that apply across the country. They might also avoid repeating the work of other researchers.

Rashelle Bernal never expected to end up in the hospital because she vaped. But she could be part of a nationwide outbreak of a severe lung illness that’s sickened more than 1,000 people. Researchers suspect those illnesses, and some deaths, are linked to vaping. Now, they're trying to find the precise cause.

Some consumers credit vaping and electronic cigarette products with helping them kick their cigarette habit. But the technology behind the devices, as well as the e-liquids they use, has changed over the years ― and with little standardization, health researchers say.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Cigarettes are so yesterday.

Or yesteryear.

That’s why that old-fashioned, combustible path to a nicotine buzz wasn’t the top concern for a small group of high schoolers in Sabetha — a 2,500-person town about an hour north of Topeka near the Nebraska border — when they got city council to hike the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21.

“I don’t really know anyone that smokes cigarettes around here because they’re really gross,” Sabetha High senior Kinsey Menold said. “Then, like, Juuls came in.”

Bigstock

The Olathe School District on Monday filed suit against the nation’s leading maker of e-cigarettes, charging it deliberately markets its products to school-age children and misleads them about their dangers.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, says that Juul Labs Inc. has “succeeded in addicting a generation of youth to nicotine” by adopting the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Dozens of primarily elderly or disabled Kansans lost their Medicaid coverage because of errors made by Aetna. Staff at the state health department discovered the problem, restored their insurance and stopped further cancellations.

Months later, state workers are still double-checking the work of Aetna Better Health — one of the three companies that helps run the state’s privatized Medicaid system — while Aetna puts together a permanent fix.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Olathe School District on Friday voted to authorize a lawsuit against the nation’s leading maker of electronic cigarettes, saying the widespread use by students of vaping devices is endangering their health and disrupting their education.

In a news release issued after it approved the suit, the district said that it “understands the threat to student health and is taking action against the epidemic.”

Bigstock

A Johnson County, Kansas, resident has filed a class action lawsuit claiming the country’s leading electronic cigarette maker, Juul Labs, fraudulently concealed the addictive nature of its vaping products and misrepresented their safety.

Isaac Gant says he began vaping as a senior in high school four years ago and now is addicted to nicotine, suffers from respiratory problems, bouts of anxiety, coughing fits and the need to take frequent breaks at work to satisfy his nicotine cravings.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — Aetna is bringing in new leadership to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after chronic complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its contract.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Aetna Better Health of Kansas CEO Keith Wisdom is no longer in that role. But the insurer declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA ― The “Kidney Stone Belt” is a thing, and it’s coming for Kansas.

Climate change is expanding that swath of America, currently in the south and southeast, that suffers much higher rates of this sometimes-excruciating renal complication.

By 2050, the belt will include Kansas, according to a new review by the Kansas Health Institute.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA ― Aetna remains in hot water with the state of Kansas, which recently threatened to cancel the company’s Medicaid contract.

Segment 1: While the rest of the nation has seen a decrease in the number of drug overdose deaths, Missouri and Kansas have seen a rise.

In 2018 death by drug overdose declined 4.2% in the United States, but Missouri saw an increase of 17% while Kansas saw a 5.6% rise. Public health officials from each side of the state line offer their thoughts on what was behind the respective upswings.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE — Before starting his CBD company, Chris Brunin researched the competition, the labs they used, the products they sold.

He checked out ingredient suppliers and organic hemp farmers. He took everyone’s pitches with a heapful of salt.

“The hemp industry is like the Wild West and Wall Street had a baby,” said Brunin. “You have to vet everything and everybody … to make sure you’re not getting messed with or lied to.”

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

This spring, abortion rights supporters scored a massive legal victory: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to abortion under the state constitution.

That means even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, lawmakers won’t be able to ban abortion in Kansas unless voters amend the state constitution.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — Kansas schools will require two new vaccines come August, including one against a virus that’s hospitalized 13,000 people and killed 200 across the country since 2016.

Segment 1: Educators see more vaping in schools, and researchers are beginning to understand how e-cigarettes affect lungs

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