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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Kansas Makes a Statement

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Voters in Kansas told the rest of the country this week that they don’t want their state to ban abortion. In a nearly 60%-40% split, voters turned […]

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Buy and Bust: When Private Equity Comes for Rural Hospitals

MEXICO, Mo. — When the new corporate owners of two rural hospitals suddenly announced they would stop admitting patients one Friday in March, Kayla Schudel, a nurse, stood resolute in the nearly empty lobby of Audrain Community Hospital: “You’ll be seen; the ER is open.” The hospital — with 40 beds and five clinics — […]

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Patient, Beware: Some States Still Pushing Ineffective Covid Antibody Treatments

As the omicron variant completes its sweep across the U.S., states with scarce supplies of monoclonal antibody therapies continue to use two treatments that federal health officials warn no longer work against the highly contagious version of the virus that causes covid-19. The antibody treatment now most recommended is sotrovimab from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, […]

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How Rural Communities Are Losing Their Pharmacies

Batson’s Drug Store seems like a throwback to a simpler time. The independently owned pharmacy in Howard, Kansas, still runs an old-fashioned soda counter and hand-dips ice cream. But the drugstore, the only one in the entire county, teeters on the edge between nostalgia and extinction. Julie Perkins, pharmacist and owner of Batson’s, graduated from […]

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Bye-Bye to Health Insurance ‘Birthday Rule’? Kansas Lawmaker Floats Fix

When Kayla Kjelshus gave birth to her first child, the infant spent seven days in the neonatal intensive care unit, known as the NICU. This stressful medical experience was followed by an equally stressful financial one. Because of an obscure health insurance policy called the “birthday rule,” Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, were hit with […]

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Pfizer’s Newest Vaccine Plant Has Persistent Mold Issues, History of Recalls

Pfizer’s management knew last year there was “a mold issue” at the Kansas facility now slated to produce the drugmaker’s urgently needed covid-19 vaccine, according to a Food and Drug Administration inspection report. The McPherson, Kansas, facility, which FDA inspectors wrote is the nation’s largest manufacturer of sterile injectable controlled substances, has a long, troubled […]

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Baby Blues: First-Time Parents Blindsided by ‘the Birthday Rule’ and a $207,455 NICU Bill

In the nine months leading up to her due date, Kayla Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, meticulously planned for their daughter’s arrival. Their long to-do list included mapping out their family’s health insurance plan and registering for baby gear and supplies. They even nailed down child care ahead of her birth. “We put a deposit […]

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Rural Areas Send Their Sickest Patients to Cities, Straining Hospitals

This story is part of a partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News. This story can be republished for free (details). Registered nurse Pascaline Muhindura has spent the past eight months treating COVID patients at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. But when she returns home to her small town of Spring Hill, Kansas, she’s often […]

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‘No Mercy’ Chapter 7: After a Rural Town Loses Hospital, Is a Health Clinic Enough?

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Family physician Maxwell Self is doing his same old job for a new employer. For two decades he was a doctor with Mercy Hospital. But when Mercy packed up and left, a federally qualified health center moved to town — into the hospital building itself — and […]

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‘No Mercy’ Chapter 3: Patchwork of Urgent Care Frays After a Rural Hospital Closes

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Emergency care gets complicated after a hospital closes. On a cold February evening, when Robert Findley fell and hit his head on a patch of ice, his wife, Linda, called 911. The delays that came next exposed the frayed patchwork that sometimes stands in for rural health […]