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.

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.

cdc.gov

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.

healthcare.gov

Federal health officials plan to focus on enrolling young adults in the Health Insurance Marketplace when open enrollment begins again this fall. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, that will protect them from the costs of unexpected illness or accidents, and make insurance more affordable for everyone else.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural hospitals are struggling to stay open as the communities around them shrink. Some have an average census of one or two patients a day. But one small hospital in southwest Kansas is drawing patients from a 90-mile radius. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson sat down with the administrator of that hospital to find out how his operation is growing at a time when one in three rural hospitals is at risk of closing.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University has been awarded a federal grant to help get more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The “Connecting Kids to Coverage” grant is almost a million dollars.

K-State plans to target Latino and immigrant children in four rural counties in the state. They’ll use bilingual ambassadors to help enroll kids at schools and health centers.

The Kansas grant is part of $32 million provided through a recently enacted bill to reauthorize Medicaid and CHIP.

Courtesy

A new survey by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute shows stark differences between states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, and those—like Kansas and Missouri—that haven’t.

Researchers interviewed leaders of major hospital systems and safety net clinics in seven states--four that expanded Medicaid and three that didn’t.

cdc.gov

Health officials are planning a public information session in Salina later this month in response to the discovery that 30 children in Saline County have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Saline County Health Department Director Jason Tiller says the problem surfaced after several families had their children tested for lead. Anyone with more than five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is considered at risk.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas owns water storage in 14 federal reservoirs managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the storage capacity of those lakes is gradually diminishing, as topsoil from waterways and farms upstream washes into the reservoirs and settles to the bottom.

As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, state officials recently began trying to extend the life of the eastern Kansas reservoir where the problem is most critical.

Kansas Public Radio

Emergency officials are assessing the damage in Kansas after a massive tornado rolled across the north-central part of the state, destroying at least two dozen homes.

The tornado, nearly a half-mile wide at times, remained on the ground for nearly 90 minutes as it churned near the towns of Solomon, Chapman and Abilene.

The twister cut a path 28 miles long and crossed Interstate 70, the main east-west highway across Kansas.

Alex Proimos, flickr Creative Commons

Last fall NPR, Harvard, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation partnered to survey Americans about their perceptions of health care. Kansas was one of seven states singled out for a closer look. And the thing that stood out about Kansans was the degree of concern they expressed about the cost of health care.

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