5:00 am
Fri April 24, 2015

SPJ Award Winner: Dangerous Chemical Invades West Wichita Drinking Water

A small portion of a map provided by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It illustrates the plume of tetrachloroethylene that sits underneath many homes in west Wichita.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment


This story originally aired during Morning Edition on 05/04/2014. 

Residents of a West Wichita neighborhood learned in March that their private water wells had been contaminated with a chemical likely to cause major health defects. They’ve also learned that the contamination could be decades old.

Ron Barnhart owns a well groomed, one story home in west Wichita.

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2:34 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Rural Kansas Hospitals Struggle To Stay Afloat

Phillips County Hospital, in Phillipsburg--one of 84 Critical Access Hospital in Kansas.
Credit Bryan Thompson

There are a lot of small, rural hospitals in Kansas. Without them, many residents would have to travel long distances for care. And in many small towns, the hospital is one of the largest employers - making it vital to the local economy. But declining populations, combined with changes in the way hospitals are paid for services, are making it more difficult for many to survive. Heartland Health Monitor's Bryan Thompson has more.

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1:39 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Big Piece Of Plan For Balancing Kansas Budget Is In Trouble

An $80 million-dollar piece of Governor Sam Brownback's plan for balancing the next state budget is in trouble in the Legislature because a major health insurance company opposes it.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said in a statement yesterday that the governor's office is having active discussions with Aetna, legislators and the state Insurance Department about the disputed measure.

It would increase a fee paid by HMOs to 5.5 percent from 1 percent.

Three private health insurers that manage the state's Medicaid program would pay most of it.

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5:00 am
Wed April 22, 2015

'Look Good Feel Better' Program Helps Cancer Patients

Cosmetologist Bridget Mack and Volunteer Coordinator Becky Jones begin the Look Good Feel Better workshop.
Credit Deborah Shaar

It’s estimated that more than 14,000 people in Kansas will receive a new cancer diagnosis this year. A little less than half will be women and the majority of those new cases will be for breast cancer.

There are support programs available to help women manage the appearance-related side effects once treatment begins.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports on the “Look Good, Feel Better” program offered by the American Cancer Society.

A short, upbeat video provides the first introduction to the Look Good, Feel Better Program.

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3:42 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Guadalupe Clinic’s South Planeview Clinic Expanding


One of the safety-net health clinics in Wichita is expanding to serve more patients who are under-insured or don’t have medical insurance. KMUW’s Deborah Shaar has more...

Guadalupe Clinic’s South location on South Hillside in Planeview will be adding two examination rooms and upgrading the workspace and laboratory areas.

Guadalupe Clinic’s Executive Director David Gear says the South Clinic provided health care to 126 people when it opened three years ago. This year he says they might see up to 800.

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2:47 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Kansas State Reports Increased Rabies Cases So Far This Year

Credit R0Ng, flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas State University laboratory says it is seeing an increase in rabies cases so far this year.

The university's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory says it had verified 28 positive cases of rabies from January through March, compared with only 10 cases during the same period last year.

Rolan Davis, a diagnostician at the lab, says all but five of the 28 cases were found in skunks. Three others were found in cats, one in a bovine and one in a fox.

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2:11 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Kansas County Reports First Whooping Cough Case In A Decade

Credit Sanofi Pasteur, flickr Creative Commons

A south-central Kansas county is investigating its first case of whooping cough in a decade.

Kingman County officials say a student at Kingman High School came down with the illness on March 27. The student currently is being treated at home.

The Hutchinson News reports 25 to 30 people who were in close contact with the teenager are being treated with an antibiotic.

Kingman County Health Department spokeswoman Mary Schwartz says those people will be tracked for 21 days. The department also is working closely with the school to watch for more cases.

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2:15 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Senate Panel Considers Cigarette, Alcohol Tax Increases

Credit Maarten van Maanen, flickr Creative Commons

Health advocates and business owners are divided over proposed increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes in Kansas.

The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee considered the measures on Tuesday. Governor Sam Brownback recommended the moves in January as a part of his budget proposals.

The cigarette tax would jump by $1.50 per pack to $2.29, and the tax paid by consumers at liquor stores would increase to 12 percent, up from 8 percent.

Health advocates testified for the bill, saying that increasing prices is the best way to get smokers to quit.

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2:18 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Kansas Senate Approves Plan To Control Mental Health Drugs

Credit Simone, flickr Creative Commons

A new bill that would control the cost of mental health drugs to the Medicaid program in Kansas has advanced in the Legislature.

On Monday, the Senate gave first-round approval to a bill requiring a review of Medicaid's mental health prescriptions.

It also creates an advisory committee to draft guidelines on prescriptions for poor and disabled Kansans covered by the program.

The measure had bipartisan support and arose from discussions between Governor Brownback's administration and mental health advocates.

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12:58 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Bird Flu Detected In Northeast Kansas


Bird flu has been detected in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in northeast Kansas.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture said in a news release late Friday that the discovery was made in Leavenworth County.

Backyard poultry owners in the county are urged to contact the department.

Additionally, parts of Cherokee and Crawford counties in the southeast part of the state are under surveillance after a confirmed case of the H5N2 strain of bird flu was found just across the state line in Jasper County, Missouri, this month.

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