Kansas News Service

KMUW's Kansas News Service reports on health, education and politics across the state. The service is a collaboration between KMUW, KCUR and Kansas Public Radio.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Editor’s note: A male in Wyandotte County can expect to live about seven fewer years than a male in Johnson County. A female in WyCo can expect to live nearly six fewer years than her JoCo counterpart. About 21 percent of residents of WyCo consider themselves to be in poor or fair health; fewer than one in 12 in JoCo do so.

Those are just a few of the many health disparities that sometimes make the side-by-side Kansas counties seem like different countries.

In our “Crossing To Health” series, we explore that health divide this week and looking at attempts to narrow the gap. Today’s story looks at the impact of green space on a community’s health. 

Greyerbaby, Pixabay Creative Commons

Johnson County’s high income and education levels are typically associated with health-promoting activities like exercise, preventive care and nutritious diets. But when it comes to alcohol, you might be surprised.

Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in Johnson County than in less affluent, less educated Wyandotte County next door. Yet in many ways, the burden of alcohol abuse still weighs heaviest on Wyandotte County. For our series Crossing To Health, Heartland Health Monitor’s Alex Smith looks into why that may be the case.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Infant death is tied to so many biological, social and behavioral issues that experts see it as a barometer of a community’s overall health. And in recent years, the infant mortality rate for African Americans in Kansas has ranked among the worst in the country.

For the latest in our series "Crossing To Health," Heartland Health Monitor’s Alex Smith explores how the fight against infant mortality has pushed experts to re-examine many of the basic assumptions about what influences health.

Phil Cauthon for KHI News Service

Problems at the Osawatomie State Hospital for Kansans with mental illness are creating challenges for some hospital emergency rooms across the state.

A cap on admissions at Osawatomie is leaving some people with severe and persistent mental illness with nowhere to go when they’re in crisis. So, more are showing up in the emergency rooms of community hospitals that aren’t equipped to treat them.

Alex Smith, Heartland Health Monitor

When your health acts up, the usual advice is to go to the doctor. But what if you can’t find one with time to see you? That’s the crisis looming in Wyandotte County, where the number of primary care doctors per person is less than half that of Johnson County. In this installment of our series Crossing To Health, KCUR’s Alex Smith looks at how to get more primary care in the area, particularly as demand ramps up.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Consumers across Kansas and Missouri appear to be selecting health plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace at a brisk pace. Enrollment in both states is ahead of last year’s place.

Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has the story of one area business owner who says she might not be in business if not for the health reform law. It’s a story that may sound familiar to anyone who’s heard former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speak recently.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Almost one-third of the food produced in America goes to waste.

Using the motto, "Feed people, not landfills," the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture are working with partners across the country to change that. Their goal is to reduce food waste by half over the next 15 years.

Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson recently traveled to Wichita to see how a Kansas grocery store chain is working with community organizations to help meet that goal.


A legislative oversight committee is recommending several changes in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program to save money. One of the recommendations is sparking controversy because it would withhold potentially life-saving treatments from some patients.

Commonwealth Fund

New health rankings from the Commonwealth Fund rank Kansas and Missouri in the bottom half of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, but both states showed improvements.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The federal health insurance marketplace opened Nov. 1 for 2016 coverage. An effort called Cover Kansas has been branching out all across the state to help Kansans find a plan that best suits their needs. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson paid a visit to one of their outreach events in Dodge City.

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