Bryan Thompson

Contributing Reporter

Bryan Thompson joined the Kansas Health Institute in 2015 after more than 35 years in radio news. For the last 15 years he has worked with Kansas Public Radio, where he produced the award-winning series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change,” and collaborated with the KHI News Service. Prior to his work at KPR, Bryan served as news director for commercial radio stations in El Dorado, Liberal and Salina. Bryan has partnered with NPR and Kaiser Health News through their “Health Care in the States” initiative. He was selected by the National Institutes of Health for its Medicine in the Media training program and by the Association of Health Care Journalists for its yearlong Midwest Health Journalism Fellowship. Bryan is a graduate of Wichita State University.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A task force charged with addressing the problems of health care delivery in rural Kansas met for nearly five hours in Salina yesterday. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, they still haven’t settled on a direction.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The recent news that Kansas is now the seventh-fattest state in the nation points toward a future of increased health problems—including cancer. In fact, as smoking rates decline and obesity rates rise, obesity is poised to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer. That’s why the University of Kansas Cancer Center is highlighting a weight control research study as part of its effort to win federal designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

About 60 people showed up for a public forum at Kansas State University yesterday on how best to implement a new state law that will allow concealed carry of handguns on university campuses in Kansas next July.

Kansas lawmakers — at least the majority of incumbents — think college campuses will be safer starting next July. That’s when a law they approved will allow people to carry concealed handguns on Kansas Board of Regents campuses.

Federal health officials say headlines about anticipated premium increases on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace overlook an important point: Most Americans, including two-thirds of Kansans, will still be able to find a plan with a premium of $75 a month, or less.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The economy of western Kansas is based on the Ogallala Aquifer. But that ancient underground water supply is being rapidly depleted. The Kansas Water Office is teaming up with forward-looking farmers in an effort to demonstrate that new irrigation technologies can reduce the demand on the aquifer without sacrificing crop yields.

From mid-May through the end of August, a sound is heard almost non-stop in farm fields all across western Kansas. It’s the sound of an irrigation pump pulling water from deep underground to nourish thirsty crops. Tom Willis owns several of these wells.

Jasleen Kaur, flickr Creative Commons

A review of health system performance nationwide shows some improvement in Kansas—but not much.

The report by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund covers three dozen indicators of access, quality, cost, and health outcomes. Like the rest of the country, Kansas saw more measures improving than declining—but the majority showed little or no change.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says rural Americans are gaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act at rates outpacing their urban counterparts.

Mark Andes was living and working in McPherson last year when he began having some pretty scary symptoms.

“I was getting dizzy, and falling to my left, and started getting weak," he says. "I couldn’t even hardly tear a piece of paper.”

National Resource Defense Council

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council says more than 5,000 public water systems—including 68 in Kansas—are in violation of EPA rules meant to protect the public from lead in the water they drink. But as Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, that may be just the tip of the iceberg.

The NRDC’s Erik Olson says those are just the systems that have been flagged. Many others—like Flint, Michigan—don’t show up in the federal data base.

Courtesy KDADS

Attorney Bill Rein has been named to head the troubled state mental hospital at Larned, in central Kansas. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, the facility has long-standing problems hiring and keeping an adequate workforce.

Interim Secretary Tim Keck, of the Kansas Department on Aging and Disability Services, calls Rein the right person at the right time for the challenges facing Larned State Hospital.

Saline County residents peppered state and local health officials with questions about lead exposure at a public meeting Tuesday evening in Salina. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment organized the meeting after tests by local doctors this year found elevated lead levels in the blood of 32 Saline County children — most of them from Salina.

One audience member asked during the meeting whether officials were investigating the Exide Technologies plant on Salina’s southern edge, where batteries are manufactured.