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Take 5 For Your Health

A Quick, Clickable Roundup Of Health News From Our Region — And Beyond — For The Second Week Of October

the start of the swimming portion of a triathalon Competitors start the swimming portion of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon on Saturday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. (Photo: Mark J. Terrill | AP)
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For Some Ironman Triathletes, Kansas City Is Like Training In Hawaii

For a handful of triathletes training in a pool at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas, simply swimming laps is too easy.

Instead, they’ve got their legs constricted so their arms do the work of dragging their bodies through the water.

Kansas City, it seems, is an Ironman triathlon training destination for reasons that might surprise the locals. Triathlete Sarah Piampiano says she comes here because the area in late summer is a lot like… Hawaii.

“The environment here is actually fairly similar to the type of environment that you get in Kona in terms of the heat and humidity and wind and also the type of terrain that’s here,” Piampiano says.

Kansas City’s suburbs offer hardcore triathletes from the area and around the nation an abundance of training facilities, such as pools, trails and long stretches of open road for cycling. The warm, humid weather also allows athletes to acclimate their cardiovascular systems to the climate of the Aloha state.

Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration that also includes KCPT and KHI News Service, an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute.

KU Ramps Up Childhood Mental Health Clinic

In a small, windowless room at the University of Kansas Child and Family Services Clinic in Lawrence, Kansas, Julie Boydston put on a few sock puppets and explained that they’re more than just toys.

Like the dollhouse and costumes also in the room, the puppets are tools that help student counselors get children with behavioral and mental health problems to open up.

“They can’t talk to you about their feelings,” Boydston explained. “But maybe they can say what ‘Mr. Duck’ thinks or ‘the frog is sad’ and why is he sad.”

The clinic provides counseling services to children and their families on a sliding scale based on income — no insurance necessary.

Boydston, a clinical psychologist, has been involved in the clinic for more than 10 years, as an adjunct professor and supervisor. But this year she was given a new role as the clinic’s director and charged with increasing outreach to expand the clinic’s role serving families throughout northeast Kansas and sometimes beyond.

— Andy Marso is a reporter with KHI News Service

Olathe Medical Center Breaks Ground On $25M Cancer Center

As part of an ambitious $100 million-plus expansion plan, Olathe Medical Center broke ground Thursday on a new $25 million cancer center.

The 25,000-square-foot facility, expected to be completed next year, will consolidate the hospital’s currently fragmented cancer outpatient services in one place.

It’s the latest project in a frenzy of construction at the hospital’s 250-acre medical campus near 151st Street and Interstate 35. The last year has also seen the opening of a new hospice house and the start of construction on a neonatal intensive care unit.

“It furthers our continuum of care on our campus, Olathe Medical Park, so basically our concept is to have a continuum of care from birth to death,” says Frank H. Devocelle, Olathe Medical Center’s president and CEO.

Dan Margolies is editor of Heartland Health Monitor

Momentum May Be Building For Kansas Medicaid Expansion But Colyer Defers Issue

A working group charged with finding “Kansas solutions” to the problems surrounding health care delivery in rural Kansas still hasn’t settled on a direction.

Near the end of Rural Health Working Group’s meeting Thursday in Salina, Rep. Jim Kelly of Independence asked the other members to at least consider what he called “the 800-pound gorilla” in the room: Medicaid expansion. Kelly thinks expanding eligibility for Medicaid might help other communities avoid the hospital closure that occurred in Independence.

“I don’t want another community to be in that position, and I don’t want rural communities all over Kansas — some frontier — to have difficulty accessing health care,” said Kelly, a Republican who is one of nine members appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback to the group. “What the final product looks like, I don’t know. Because I know that, to be acceptable, it’s probably going to have to have certain components to it. It’s going to have to be a Kansas-type plan.”

Bryan Thompson is a reporter for KHI News Service

From PBS NewsHour

The abuse of opioids has become a major public health concern; more than 28,000 people died by overdose in 2014. According to reporting by STAT News, drug companies downplayed the addictive effects of opioid drugs in the late 1990s, assuring doctors that they could be safely used for chronic pain and incentivised their use. Hari Sreenivasan talks to journalist David Armstrong.

For a local look at the opioid crisis, see “The Painful Truth,” a Kansas City Week in Review Special Edition.

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