Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Warm Wishes from Rural Health

Many good wishes for a blessed and happy holiday season

We wanted to share a beautiful winter photo from this year's Rural Kansas photography contest. The Rural Health staff loved this photo so much, we decided to use it for our holiday card.

Covered Bridge photo taken north of Marysville, Kansas by Fernando Ugarte, M.D.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrating National Rural Health Day

Mark your calendars and join us for a reception as we celebrate the first-ever National Rural Health Day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011
3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
University of Kansas School of Medicine
(Meadowlark Room)
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS 67214

We'll be sharing more about the first National Rural Health Day later this week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

KCO - Wichita @ the Wichita Boathouse

We hope to see many of you at KCO this Thursday, November 10.

This year's event will be at the Wichita Boathouse, 515 S. Wichita in Wichita.

If you haven't registered, you may call 316.293.2649, email or go online to

Friday, October 28, 2011

KCO - Wichita is just around the corner

On Thursday, November 10, Rural Health Education and Services is hosting the Kansas Career Opportunities (KCO) event in Wichita, Kansas at the Wichita Boathouse

Day Session
12 p.m.   Registration (complimentary lunch provided with registration)
12 - 2 p.m.  Visit with Exhibitors
2 - 2:45 p.m.  Guest Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Scott Koontz, "Life as a physician in rural Kansas"

Evening Session *NEW*
5 p.m.  Registration (complimentary wine and appetizers provided with registration)
5 - 7 p.m.  Visit with Exhibitors
6:45 p.m.  Professional Panel

Professional Panel
Engage in conversations with industry experts and find out more about private practice financing, resident loan programs, contract negotiations, loan forgiveness programs, malpractice insurance, and financial planning and investment. 
Meet our Panel
Scott Palecki, Attorney with Foulston Siefkin, LLP; Lynn Adams, Director of Education Consulting at Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Company; Tara Morrow, Senior Coordinator for Kansas Bridging Plan with KUMC; Pat Gearhart, President of Bank of Kansas and Kurt Carter, Senior Vice President of Stillwater National Bank. 
More about KCO

KCO is designed to introduce medical students, residents, and other health care professionals to rural communities seeking health care providers. Rural Kansas communities are invited to exhibit at the career fairs and discuss health care career opportunities in their area.

Whether you are a student, resident physician, or a practicing health care professional, you won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to meet representatives from Kansas communities. Lunch is provided and a prize drawing is held for those who attend. Below is a schedule for the day.

Register for KCO Today!
On the website:
By email:
By phone: 888-503-4221

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

KCO - Kansas City ~ Record Setting Year

Wow! What a busy, successful and FUN day! KCO - KC had a record breaking year with 195 participants visiting with 30 health care exhibitors from all across Kansas.

Another KCO event is coming up soon in Wichita. The venue has changed this year and the event will be held at the Wichita Boat House. Mark you calendar for Thursday, November 10. Registrations are still being accepted. Call 888-503-4221, email or register online.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kansas Career Opportunities - KC

The KUMC [Wichita] staff is on its way to Kansas City today to begin setting up for KCO-KC! More than 30 health care facility representatives from rural Kansas will be at tomorrow's fair to meet with medical students, resident physicians, practicing physicians, health care professionals and even spouses! If you have not registered to attend, you can register onsite. We hope to see you there!

Kansas Career Opportunities - KC
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Noon to 2 p.m.
University of Kansas Medical Center
Hixson Atrium

List of Exhibitors for KCO - KC
Anderson County Hospital, Anthony Medical Center, Citizens Medical Center, Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, Dodge City Medical Center, Geary Community Hospital, HaysMed, Herington Municipal Hospital, Health & Human Services/Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Services/National Health Service Corps, KAMU, Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Kansas Department of Health & Environment/Primary Care Office, Labette Health, Lindsborg Community Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, Memorial Health System in Abilene, Mercy Hospital Independence, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott, Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems, Ness County Hospital, Newman Regional Health in Emporia, Phillips County Hospital, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Rice County District Hospital, Rural Health Education and Services, Salina Regional Health Center, Sheridan County Health Complex, Southwest Medical Center in Liberal, Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg, Inc., and Western Plains Medical Complex.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dentist joins Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas

Arthur Unruh, DDS, joined the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) Iola Dental Clinic in June.

“Being from a small town, I never ruled out the possibility of working in rural Kansas and after looking at several opportunities found Iola to be the best fit,” said Unruh.

Dr. Unruh was raised in Hesston, Kan. He received a Bachelor’s in Science Biochemistry from the University of Kansas in 2007. In May 2011 he completed dental school at The University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Krista Postai, CEO of CHC/SEK believes they were fortunate to find someone who was a perfect match for a busy rural practice that serves people from all walks of life.

“Dr. Unruh clearly understands the importance of access to oral health care and dentistry. For him, it’s clearly more than just making a living—it’s about making a difference,” Postai said.

Dr. Unruh indicated that his favorite part of dentistry is that he gets to meet and interact with new people every day. “There is a very large need to be filled in the population we are serving and it is rewarding to be able to help out those who otherwise are unable to get care,” Dr. Unruh said.

Unruh and the CHC/SEK were matched through the Kansas Recruitment Center (KRC). The KRC, which provides placement assistance to rural health organizations, seeks to enhance the quality and quantity of health care professionals in rural Kansas by helping providers like Unruh find a practice in Kansas. The KRC is a not-for-profit program of Rural Health Education and Services at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Further information is available at or by phone at 888-503-4221.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

KCO - Kansas City is one week away

On Thursday, October  13, Rural Health Education and Services is hosting the Kansas Career Opportunities (KCO) event in Kansas City, Kan. and will take place in Hixson Atrium on the University of Kansas Medical Center Campus on 39th Street, just east of Rainbow Blvd.

KCO is designed to introduce medical students, residents, and other health care professionals to rural communities seeking health care providers. Rural Kansas communities are invited to exhibit at the career fairs and discuss health care career opportunities in their area.

Whether you are a student, resident physician, or a practicing health care professional, you won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to meet representatives from Kansas communities. Lunch is provided and a prize drawing is held for those who attend. Below is a schedule for the day.

It is still not to late to attend, visit Rural Health's website for more information and to register for the event.

If you are not able to attend KCO Kansas City on October 13, you are in luck. KCO Wichita will be held on November 10, at the Wichita Boat House. KCO Wichita will also have an evening event. More information on KCO Wichita can be found on Rural Health's website.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nearly all U.S. doctors are now on social media

Below is a article that Rural Health found to be interesting and wanted to share it with you.

Although most are active on sites personally -- and many professionally -- they have been reluctant to engage with patients.
By Pamela Lewis Dolan, amednews staff. Posted Sept. 26, 2011.

The number of physicians using sites such as Facebook and Twitter has grown so quickly that Gabriel Bosslet, MD, realized the moment his study on physician social media use appeared in June that it already was out of date.

The data, collected by Dr. Bosslet between February and May 2010 and posted more than a year later on the Journal of General Internal Medicine site, found that 41.6% of doctors use social media sites.

However, between April and May 2011, research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan found that 84% of doctors use social media for personal purposes. Then in August, nearly 90% of physicians reported that they used at least one social media site personally, according to a survey by the online physician learning collaborative QuantiaMD.

By those numbers, physicians are well ahead of the general adult population -- 65% of the general public use social media, according to a study published in August by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"The rise in social media has been so meteoric," said Dr. Bosslet, an internist at Indiana University Health and an affiliate faculty member at the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics in Indianapolis, which sponsored his research. The time that passed between data collection to his study's results being posted was like a "generation later," he said.

33% of U.S. physicians have received Facebook friend requests from patients; 75% of them declined the invitations. However, although physicians appear to be embracing social media, they are still feeling their way around it. According to QuantiaMD, 87% of physicians make personal use of social media, but a lesser amount, 67%, use it professionally. And one thing that hasn't changed during those 18 months is the lack of patient-physician communication on social media.

One-third of the QuantiaMD survey respondents said they had received a friend request from a patient on Facebook. Three-quarters of the physicians declined those invitations.

"There is a real reticence on the part of many physicians to use social media, or even email for that matter, to communicate with patients," said Nancy Fabozzi, health care market research and competitive intelligence specialist with Frost & Sullivan. Not only are physicians worried about liability and privacy issues, but also "there's not enough hours in the day, quite frankly," she said.

Read the full story on

Friday, September 23, 2011

2011 Rural Kansas Photography Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Rural Kansas Photography Contest, presented by Rural Health Education and Services. All winning photos can be found on the Rural Health website:

This year we had 75 people submit almost 350 Photos! Below are the 1st place winners for each category.

Rural Landscape
1st Place - Lee Mossman
"Lake Sunset"

1st Place - Marcia Newell
"Checking Ears in the ER, During the Teddy Bear Clinic"

1st Place - Bryan Gilligan

1st Place - submitted by Roger Tobias, photo by by Jessica Lindsey
"Airplane Caleb, Landing strip bordered by ripened wheat"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Community celebrates expansion of KU Wichita Campus

WICHITA, KAN. – The University of Kansas, along with state, university, and local leaders, will celebrate the expansion of the KU School of Medicine and the KU School of Pharmacy on the Wichita Campus at a dedication ceremony from 4 to 6 p.m., Sept. 15, at 1010 N. Kansas.

The ceremony will highlight the new first-year classes in both schools, as well as recognize those who helped establish and expand the university’s Wichita Campus as KU works to meet the needs of the state.

“There is a serious shortage of doctors and pharmacists in Kansas, particularly in rural areas. Through this expansion of our presence in Wichita, KU will help close those gaps,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, PhD. “We’ve received tremendous support from state and local leaders, and those partnerships will benefit Kansans and build healthy communities around the state."

Ninety of 105 Kansas counties are medically underserved. In addition, six Kansas counties have no pharmacy and another 30 have only one.

“For almost 40 years, we’ve provided hands-on, clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students in Wichita,” said KU School of Medicine–Wichita Dean H. David Wilson, MD. “KU will now be educating even more doctors for Kansas by expanding the total class size with an expansion here in Wichita, and the medical community couldn’t be happier.”

The School of Medicine–Wichita is collaborating with the School of Pharmacy, Wichita State University, and Newman University to share resources, including a cadaver lab and several faculty members to avoid duplication and increase efficiency. By 2015, the KU Wichita Campus is projected to have an $80 million annual economic impact on the Wichita area.

The first four years of the KU School of Medicine–Wichita expansion are being funded by tuition and philanthropy. The expansion of the School of Pharmacy was made possible thanks to support from the state, which also included the construction of a new building in Lawrence.

“The expansion to Wichita and the new building in Lawrence allowed us to increase the number of incoming pharmacy students from 105 two years ago to 170 this year,” said KU School of Pharmacy Dean Ken Audus, PhD. “We’re confident that investment will pay dividends to the people of Kansas for generations to come.”

“Our Wichita Campus has been extremely successful, serving as a model for other medical schools nationwide. Thanks to our community partners and so many gracious donors, we have been able to build on this success,” said Barbara Atkinson, MD, KU Medical Center executive vice chancellor and KU School of Medicine executive dean. “Our goal of having a full, four-year medical school campus in Wichita is now a reality.”

Construction was completed in May for the 26,047-square-foot, second-floor addition designed by GLMV Architecture and constructed by Walz Harmon Huffman Construction and Hahner Foreman & Harness Inc.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kansas Career Opportunities (KCO) dates announced for Kansas City and Wichita

Register today to attend the annual Kansas Career Opportunities (KCO) event in Kansas City or Wichita.
Kansas City
Thursday, October 13, 2011
12 to 2 p.m.
The University of Kansas Medical Center, Hixson Atrium

Thursday, November 10, 2011
12 to 2 p.m.
New Evening Event: 5 to 7 p.m.
New Location: Wichita Boathouse

KCO is designed to introduce medical students, residents, and other health care professionals to rural communities seeking health care providers. Rural Kansas communities are invited to exhibit at the career fairs and discuss health care career opportunities in their area.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Rural Kansas Photography Contest

Time is running out! Only three weeks left to enter photos for this year's Rural Kansas Photography contest, presented by Rural Health Education and Services.

Photos submitted should depict Kansas as a great place to live, work, and play. Winning photos will be published and prizes will be awarded.

Photographs are due by September 19, 2011.

For more information, contest rules, and entry forms please go to

Friday, August 19, 2011

First class of Wichita pharmacy students begins training Monday

The KU School of Pharmacy-Wichita will begin training its inaugural class of 20 students on Monday.

The pharmacy school is located on the campus of the KU School of Medicine—Wichita, 1010 N. Kansas.

The school expects to accept 20 new students each year through 2014. After that, it could see class sizes increase to as many as 40 students a year, pharmacy school officials said.

Nine of the first students are from Wichita. The others are from Andover, Altamont, Assaria, Cimarron, Derby, Ellsworth, Great Bend, Haven, Manhattan, Minneapolis and Olathe.

"Pharmacy practitioners are often the first points of contact, and in some instances, the only health care professionals accessible in our state's rural counties," KU School of Pharmacy Dean Ken Audus said in a news release. "As the only school of pharmacy in Kansas, it's our obligation to address that need quickly and with purpose. The new facilities in Wichita represent a big step in that direction."

The Wichita Eagle

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Kansas Connections is Available Online

The Summer 2011 publication of Kansas Connections is now available.

Article Highlights include:
  • Southeast Kansas Responds to Joplin Tornado

  • Cancer Survivorship Study

  • Pilot Program Selects Eight Rural Kansas Practices

  • KansasWorks Health care Workforce Partnership

  • Google Provides Rural Health Opportunities

  • Rural Health Care Provider Spotlight – Dr. Dennis Kepka

  • Labette Health Expands Wound Care Services

All issues of Kansas Connections are available online in an easy-to-view format at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kansas Recruitment Center Announces Placement - Physician joins Associates in Family Care in McPherson

Andrea Herrera, MD, joined Associates in Family Care, LLC, a clinic in McPherson in August.

“I lived in McPherson for several years while attending McPherson College and really enjoyed it here. I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends and making new ones,” said Herrera.

Dr. Herrera indicated that she will be joining two established partners who have made her feel very welcome in their clinic. Dr. Herrera has special interests in sports medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and disease prevention.

“I am very thrilled to have Dr. Herrera joining our practice,” said Dr. Brian Billings of Associates in Family Care. “She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and will be taking care of patients in all phases of their lives.”

In her hometown of Hesston, Kan., Herrera received an Associates of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Hesston College in 1997. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from McPherson College, graduating cum laude in 2000. In 2005 she completed her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. Dr. Herrera completed her residency at the University of Texas Health Center in Tyler, Tex. in 2008.

Herrera and Associates in Family Care, LLC were matched through the Kansas Recruitment Center (KRC). The KRC, which provides placement assistance to rural health organizations, seeks to enhance the quality and quantity of health care professionals in rural Kansas by helping providers like Herrera find a practice in Kansas. The KRC is a not-for-profit program of Rural Health Education and Services at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Further information is available at or by phone at 888-503-4221.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

University of Kansas tops best universities to work for

WICHITA — Usually college rankings are all about how good a school is for students., which examines careers and companies, has a new study that will be published on its site Friday that takes a look at what colleges are like for the people who work there.

The University of Kansas is the No. 1 best place to work in the ranking of more than 100 large schools nationally.

H. David Wilson, dean of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita, isn’t surprised.

“I can tell you the people that work here are really a happy bunch,” he says. “We come to work because of the camaraderie, because of the support of the university and because of the mission.”

He says there is minimal turnover.

“People know that they could probably make more money working somewhere else,” Wilson says.

There are intangibles that trump dollars, though.

“People feel like we’re doing something important.”

By Carrie Rengers -

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dr. Terri Cusick and the Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education among Wichita's Health Care Heroes

Congratulations to Dr. Terri Cusick, KU School of Medicine-Wichita/Wichita Surgical Specialists PA and to the Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education for being chosen as two of Wichita’s 2011 Health Care Heroes. Health Care Heroes honors companies, individuals and organizations for their contributions to improving health care in Wichita and the surrounding area. This year's honorees will be recognized at an event Sept. 22 and will be profiled in a special edition of the Wichita Business Journal on Sept. 23. Read more at Health Care Heroes - Wichita Business Journal 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Small-Town Doctors Made in a Small Kansas Town

The eight students at the University of Kansas medical school in Salina.
Front, from left, Rany Gilpatrick, Claire Hinrichsen and Sara Ritterling;
second row, Kayla Johnson, Erik Dill and Tyson Wisinger;
back, Jill Corpstein and Daniel Linville.
SALINA, Kan. — This state, so sparsely populated in parts that five counties have no doctors at all, has struggled for years to encourage young doctors to relocate to rural communities, where health problems are often exacerbated by a lack of even the most basic care.

On Friday, a new medical school campus opened here to provide a novel solution to the persistent problem: an inaugural class of eight aspiring doctors who will receive all their training in exactly the kind of small community where officials hope they will remain to practice medicine.
The new school, operated by the University of Kansas, is billed as the smallest in the nation to offer a full four-year medical education. More important, supporters say, the students will remain personally and professionally rooted in the agricultural center of the state — a three-hour drive from the university’s state-of-the-art medical and research facilities in Kansas City.
It will be a different experience, one that administrators say will better prepare students for the realities of a rural practice. Lectures on subjects like anatomy will be delivered via streaming video, lab work will be overseen by more practicing generalists and fewer academic specialists, and the problems of patients will tend more to the everyday than to the extraordinary.
And, the thinking goes, spouses picked up along the way are less likely to complain about moving to a small town.
“It just makes sense, and it’s great that it’s been put into practice,” said Alan Morgan, the president of the National Rural Health Association. “From a rural policy perspective, this is big news.”
Increasingly, medical schools across the country have been looking for ways to add to the ranks of physicians in rural areas. Some are using incentives like guaranteeing admission or forgiving loans to students who commit to practicing in small communities.
Others are recruiting students from rural areas and giving their applications preference, in the hope that they will return after graduating. And a number of schools encourage students to spend one year or more training in rural areas.
Kansas has tried each of these approaches in recent years, all of which are being used at the Salina campus. But with more than half the primary care physicians concentrated in the four largest counties, a vast majority of the state is considered medically underserved. And with many rural doctors near retirement age, the shortage could grow more acute.
The medical school program here, which is similar to a program at the Indiana University campus in Terre Haute, emerged as the top recommendation several years ago in a state report on the shortage of rural physicians.
It was supported by research suggesting that students who trained in urban areas faced hurdles in adjusting to the more bare-bones life of a country doctor, said Dr. Heidi Chumley, a senior associate dean at the University of Kansas.
“When they go off to the ritz and the glitz and pick up a spouse from the big city, it’s always hard to get them back to small-town America,” said Micheal Terry, president and chief executive of Salina Regional Health Center, which donated the three-story building being used by the school, as well as enough money to run it for a year. (The school cost $1.1 million to start and $1.1 million in reserve to operate it for the first year.)
Situated at the intersection of two highways, Salina, which has a population of nearly 50,000, serves a crucial role as a regional hub supporting surrounding rural communities; the hospital where the school is based receives patients who travel as many as four hours to get there.
University officials were relieved when one visitor from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, an accrediting body whose approval was considered a major hurdle, remarked with surprise that the area was not just cornfields.
Barbara Barzansky, co-secretary of the accrediting agency, said there had been concerns about the size of the school: Salina is the smallest city in the country to host a full medical degree program. But she said the committee found the resources to be adequate.
“It’s an interesting model, and if the outcomes are good, it could be a stimulus for other schools to do it,” Ms. Barzansky said.
On Friday, the eight students met for the first time for orientation, sitting nervously alongside one another before breaking into enthusiastic chatter. Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, a longtime physician here who is the director of the school, said that while they were the first class of “something very, very special,” they should not think of themselves as experiments.
Though a couple of students said they would have preferred to attend at the campuses in Kansas City or Wichita — one plans to commute from there — the rest said the smaller school had been their first choice.
Most of them grew up in small towns themselves and have agreed, in exchange for free tuition and monthly stipends, to start their careers in rural areas.
They know the life of a rural physician is not easy. Patients tend to be older, poorer and often uninsured. The job generally pays less than lucrative specialties. And many rural doctors have so little support that they are essentially on call permanently.
But the students also spoke firsthand of the need for doctors — one recalled a half-hour drive to the city, relieved by four Advil and an ice pack, to see a doctor about his broken arm.
“I’m a small-town girl, and I always wanted to be back in a small town,” said Kayla Johnson, 23, who grew up west of here in Odin (population 101) and did not like the idea of living in a city to study medicine. “When I heard that the Salina program was starting, I was so excited.”
Dr. Robert Moser, who had a rural practice before becoming the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said he expected the number of students who go into primary care in rural areas to at least double each year.
And while the number is still small, he said, the impact on communities will be significant.
That would be the case in Jewell County, where the only two doctors have moved away, forcing the county to pay outside physicians to provide services a few days each month and to be on call for emergencies.
“It would be great to have a doctor full time here,” said Angela Murray, the administrator of the County Health Department. “Hopefully that will happen.”

Article courtesy of The New York Times
Published: July 22, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pharmacies becoming scarce in rural Kansas counties

July 25, 2011

SCOTT CITY — Jena Brunswig understands how important it is for her and her husband, Jonathan, to keep the doors of their pharmacies in Lakin, Leoti and Scott City open.
Their Health Mart franchises are the only pharmacies in Kearny, Wichita and Scott counties, respectively. If they were to close, customers — many of them elderly — would have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to have their prescriptions filled and, of course, drive the same distance home.
Six Kansas counties are without a pharmacy, while 30 counties have only one.
"We originally opened a pharmacy in the Wichita County Health Center in Leoti about 15 years ago," Brunswig, who has a doctorate degree in pharmacy from The University of Kansas, said.
Thirteen years ago, the couple opened J&J Pharmacy in the Kearny County Health Center, and in 2003 they purchased the Scott City business.
Her husband, who also has a doctorate degree in pharmacy from KU, serves as a consultant for rural hospitals and nursing homes in Kearny, Finney, Lane, Scott and Wichita counties.
Brunswig said their pharmacies employ 20 to 25 full-time workers and about 20 to 25 part-time employees during the summer and holiday season.
"With the declining population, it's difficult to have enough people to run a business," she said.
Even more difficult is finding pharmacists who want to work and live in small western Kansas towns. So, the Brunswigs rely on "growing our own" through the KU School of Pharmacy curriculum that places students in communities for a one-month rotation. The curriculum allows community pharmacists to mentor students as they gain real-world experience.
"All the pharmacists we've hired have grown up here," she said.
Brunswig said she and her husband recently hired KU pharmacy students from Scott City and Leoti who wanted to return to their hometowns to begin their careers.
"They'll typically stay five years and then move on, although some marry and stay here," she said. "The KU perceptorship has increased our ability to find staff."
Abby Amick, director of Wabaunsee County Economic Development, said that county has been without a pharmacy since 1988, when its owner retired.
"When I started working here, it was one of my biggest concerns," Amick said.
Talks about establishing a satellite office through a pharmacy in a neighboring county was aborted when it became apparent it would be too costly to staff the pharmacy and pay overhead, she said.
"It's all the regulations that caused people not to be interested," she said, explaining how the satellite office would be required to have a full-time pharmacist to dispense and monitor the medications.
Amick said Alma residents can drive 16 miles to Wamego to pick up medications, while Alta Vista residents can travel to Council Grove, about 15 miles away, to fill prescriptions. A Rossville pharmacy makes deliveries to the Lake Wabaunsee and Eskridge areas, and a Topeka pharmacy also delivers to Lake Wabaunsee.
In addition, several area pharmacies offer mail-order services.
Brunswig said mail-order pharmacy services are a growing threat to brick-and-mortar pharmacies because they can provide medications more cheaply and be delivered to a person's mailbox.
"Schools, hospitals and the county have gone to mail-order prescriptions," she said. "It's cheaper for them to provide health insurance if they have this mail-order rider."
However, Brunswig said, mail-order pharmacies can't provide medications the day a person becomes ill or runs out of medication.
"Waiting three days for an antibiotic from mail order is not quality care," she said.
Consequently, the Brunswigs' pharmacies fill and deliver prescriptions to elderly residents who live in town and sometimes to rural areas.
"I hope that the population sustains our business, and the health insurance legislation will not inhibit our health care service," she said. "There are a lot of unknowns, and so many things are out of our control. The future of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies is unknown."

Article courtesy of The Topeka Capital-Journal.  View article at: 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Rural Kansas Photography Contest

Once again it is time for the Rural Kansas Photography contest, presented by Rural Health Education and Services.

Photos submitted should depict Kansas as a great place to live, work, and play. Winning photos will be published and prizes will be awarded.

Photographs are due by September 19, 2011.

For more information, contest rules, and entry forms please go to

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rural Health Welcomes Jenifer Yuza

Rural Health Education and Services welcomes Jenifer Yuza as the new Marketing and Communications Coordinator. In this role she will be coordinating the production of Kansas Connections and all marketing activities of RHES.  You can contact Jenifer directly at . Welcome to RHES, Jenifer!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Switch to electronic records improves patients' health

Switch to electronic records improves patients' health

July 01, 2011
By Cori Ast

As Jennifer Brull, MD, enters an exam room, her hands are free to greet her patient with a warm handshake. That's because, unlike many doctors, Brull isn't holding a clipboard with the patient's chart. Paper charts are a thing of the past at Plainville Medical Clinic, which documents patient visits with electronic health records (EHRs) that Brull can call up on a password-protected, networked computer in the exam room.

Brull, a family physician, can enter her diagnosis, treatment and other health information into the computer during the visit. Then she can print up a summary -- for the patient, not for her files.

"Each patient encounter is much more comprehensive. I no longer have to remember things about visits that might have been six months ago or more -- the computer remembers for me," Brull says.

The EHR system at Plainville Medical Clinic improves patient care and physician efficiency, but it also qualifies Brull for up to $63,750 in Medicare incentive payments. The payments are given to registered physicians and hospitals who engage in ""meaningful use"" of EHRs, which requires physicians to use the technology to improve patient care in a measurable manner. Some of these measurements include tracking preventive health screenings and behavioral information, such as tobacco use, that often influence patient health.

As of mid-May, only 1,026 providers in the nation had registered for the payments, out of a possible 56,599 that have demonstrated ""meaningful use."" Brull was one of the earliest adopters -- and the first certified ""meaningful use"" physician in Kansas.

"It's cool to be the first doctor in Kansas, but the best part of meaningful use is that, in the process, I improved the way I take care of my patients," Brull says. "And that's what''s key -- my patients get better care."

That better care has saved lives, too, according to Brull, who graduated from the KU School of Medicine in 1998.

For example, Brull thought she was doing a great job of talking to her patients about colon cancer prevention. However, when Plainville Medical Clinic implemented an EHR system, Brull realized her baseline measures for colon cancer screening were a paltry 43 percent.

"Anecdotally, I thought I was doing a great job of screening my patients for colon cancer. In reality, I wasn't," Brull says. In the two years she has been using EHRs, the percentage of her patients who are screened regularly for colon cancer has jumped to 85 percent. Brull has also caught three cases of colon cancer so early that the patients did not need chemotherapy. Those cases, she says, might have been missed if she was still screening fewer than half of her patients.

In fact, improved quality of care is why Brull and the physicians at Plainville Medical Clinic paid the hefty start-up costs to implement their EHR system, which went live in 2008. Despite the substantial investment, the EHR system at Plainville Medical Center has already paid for itself in increased physician productivity.
"It's just easier to see patients in the electronic world," Brull explains.

The financial incentives for EHRs extend beyond increased productivity. Brull has already received her first $18,000 Medicare incentive payment. The payments, which are authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will continue through 2016 for Medicare-based payments and through 2021 for Medicaid-based payments.

In 2015, however, punitive measures will go into effect for physicians and hospitals choosing not to comply with "meaningful use" of EHRs. Those providers will receive less money from Medicare reimbursement for providing the same services as certified "meaningful use" providers.

Karl Koob, chair of health information management at the University of Kansas School of Allied Health, says that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service''s carrot-and-stick approach is necessary because collecting the data on a national scale is critical for improving the U.S. health care system.

Although physicians benefit from the government''s push to adopt EHRs, many practices still haven't switched to electronic records. Anna Johnson, MET, clinical assistant professor of health information management at KU School of Allied Health, believes the hesitation, particularly among rural physicians, is due to in large part to the high start-up costs and the drastic changes EHRs can have on a physician's work day.

"Small physician practices don''t have as many resources," Johnson says. Because implementing an electronic health record system is resource-intensive, the uncertainty of success can leave doctors waiting on the sidelines.

Brull believes that cost isn't the largest barrier. Instead, she says, it's a lack of support.

"I think when doctors say they're not financially able to implement an EHR, it has to do a lot more with the culture that is in place in the office. If you have people who believe it won't work, then it won''t," Brull says.
Brull and the physicians at Plainville Medical Clinic believed an EHR system could work for their practice -- and it does. Today, Plainville's patients can access their health records online, email their physicians with questions and receive overall better care thanks to the EHR system. Brull and the other physicians spend less time on paperwork and more with patients. The EHR system has also reduced the number of late nights in the office, leaving more time for family. A meaningful change indeed.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

New Salina med school campus unique in U.S.

— Next month, the University of Kansas School of Medicine will open a four-year, fully accredited school – officials prefer to call it a campus – next door to the Salina Regional Health Center.

“This will be the smallest medical school campus in the country and Salina will be the smallest city in the country - outside of a few major suburbs - to have a medical school campus,” said Dr. Heidi Chumley, senior associate dean for medical education at KU Medical Center.

The first class will have eight students, seven of whom are from Kansas.

KU Medical Center officials said they plan to add eight students a year at the campus in each of the next four years.

More primary-care docs

“The goal is to develop more primary care doctors for rural Kansas,” Chumley said. “We’re shooting for 75 percent (of the new school’s eventual graduates) choosing primary care, and 75 percent rural.”

Much of the new school’s curriculum will be tied to the classroom offerings at the KU Medical Center’s campuses in Kansas City and Wichita.

“We completely redid our curriculum about six years ago. It’s very computerized now,” said KU Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson. “All the lectures are podcasts. They’re all going to be teleconferenced (in Salina), though some will be generated on-site.”

The cost of remodeling the three-story building has been picked up by Salina Regional Health Center. And the hospital’s foundation and several private donors are covering many of the operational costs and scholarship offers.

“So far, we’ve not asked the state for any money for this because we understand the financial situation the state is in,” Atkinson said. “But we have asked donors to support it and they’ve been very, very generous. Incredibly generous.”

Salina-area benefactors, she said, hope to raise $2.5 million over the next four years. They’ve already raised $1.5 million with $1 million coming from the salina hospital.

Salina Regional Health Center has hosted a residency program for KU Medical School graduates for about 30 years.

Most of its residents went on to start or join rural practices.

Model for other states

“What the University of Kansas is doing, I think, will be a template for having a positive impact on the number of medical practitioners in rural communities,” said Brock Slabach, senior vice president at the National Rural Health Association. “Other universities will be watching because, really, for a major medical school to commit itself to meeting rural-community needs like this is truly novel. It shouldn’t be, but it is.”

Slabach said he’s long been baffled by the fact that medical school officials in many rural states’ fail to see the connection between their states' shortages of health care providers and their students leaving for big cities in other states.

“I wouldn’t include Kansas in that group,” he said.

Last year, a national survey of how well medical schools were fulfilling their “social mission to train doctors…” ranked KU School of Medicine fifth in the nation.

The school was ranked eighth for its percentage of graduates (44 percent) practicing in underserved areas.
Earlier this year, a Kansas Department of Health and Environment survey found that 51 of the state’s 105 counties had less than one physician per 2,695 residents and were considered medically underserved.

Looming retirements

“The shortage of health care professionals has been a critical issue for a long time,” said Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, a Salina oncologist and director at the KU-Salina campus. “It’s not new, but what is new is that now we have a number of physicians who are nearing retirement age, and a good number of them are practicing in the rural communities.”

Generating enough new doctors to replace those who are retiring – especially in rural areas - will be difficult, he said.

“We have to do something,” Cathcart-Rake said. “We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. It’s not enough.”

The Salina campus, he said, will be geared toward allowing students from small towns to complete their studies and residencies in a small-town environment.

“There is evidence that shows that if someone is trained in a rural area they are more likely to stay in a rural area,” he said. “So the idea is that from day one we’ll be training our students in in non-metropolitan settings and exposing them to all the good and the bad that comes with life in rural Kansas. After that, we’ll hope for the best.”

Cathcart-Rake, who grew up in small town in Orange County, Calif. (“…back when there was still a small town in Orange County”), has been practicing medicine in Salina for 32 years.

“The perception is that if you go to a small town you’ll work yourself to death, you’ll never get a vacation and you won’t get to spend time with your family,” he said. “The way to get around that is to be with a group of physicians so you can cover for each other so you don’t have to do everything for yourself.

“The days of there being a doc in every little town are gone. That’s not the model anymore,” Cathcart-Rake said, noting that in Clay Center, for example, the local clinic has eight physicians and four mid-level practitioners serving a large catchment area.

Similar models are in place in Tribune, Quinter, and Beloit.

Enjoying small-town life

Earlier this year, Aneisa Slack, 25, completed her second year of study at KU Medical School in Kansas City. She’s starting her third year on the school’s Wichita campus.

“I’ll be here for six months,” she said. “Then, in January I’ll go to Salina. I’ll be there for 18 months.”
Slack, who grew up on the family farm south of Oxford in Sumner County, said she wants to be a primary-care physician in a small town.

“I like the small-town lifestyle,” she said. “I know that a lot of people don’t. But that, I think, is because they’re not from a small town. I’ve had some classes with students from Wichita and Kansas City who’ve never been to a small town. They’ve driven through them, but they’ve never spent any time in one.”

Slack last year was president of the KU Rural Medicine Interest Group, which is a student organization. She said she was leaning toward joining an existing practice or going to work for a small-town hospital.

Most of her fellow students, she said, are not interested in opening their own practices.

“The ones I know aren’t really interested in starting a business,” she said. “They don’t want to have to put up with all the paperwork. They just want to be a doctor.”

Article courtesy of Kansas Health Institute.  View article at:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wichita-area health care leaders sign pact to create training site

The Wichita Eagle

Every year, 180,000 people die because of accidents in their medical treatments.

"That's the equivalent of a huge plane crash once a day," said Wichita physician Robert McKay, program chair of anesthesia at the University of Kansas Medical Center-Wichita. He was citing a survey last year of medical deaths by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

"If a plane crashed every day, people would stop flying. But they can't stop going to the hospital," McKay said Tuesday.

This week, McKay learned, a simulation training program similar to one he's trying to help bring to Wichita had all but eliminated what the health care profession calls "adverse events" at one large Midwest hospital.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital recorded about one such event every six months 10 years ago, before they started training with medical simulators. Now, the hospital has gone 3 1/2 years without a serious safety event, according to Tom LeMaster, program director for the Cincinnati Children's Center Simulation and Research Center.

Simulators allow medical professionals to practice real-world scenarios on high-tech mannequins under the same types of circumstances they face in hospitals or ambulances.

"I can't say simulation fixed everything, because there are other changes we made, but I can say it was a huge part of it," LeMaster said.

Such success helped bring together leaders from Wichita's hospitals, medical clinics, military installations, emergency services and health care schools to sign a joint operations agreement for the Mid-Continent Regional Center for Health Care Simulation.

About a dozen health care leaders and educators signed the agreement for the proposed $14 million training center during a lunch at the Wichita Art Museum.

The agreement represents a formal backing of the project from the city's health care organizations and schools. It may open as early as next year if enough money can be raised, organizers said.

"It worked in Cincinnati; it can work anywhere," said McKay, who serves on a steering committee for the new center.

LeMaster said the Cincinnati program started training hospital staff in the emergency room and now is integrated throughout the hospital. LeMaster said his crew now can bring a simulated emergency test into the hospital, unannounced, and teams must react as if it's a real emergency.

"We run about two codes per month throughout the hospital," LeMaster said.

LeMaster cited the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which pumps blood and oxygen to a patient during heart surgery. It effectively takes over for the heart and lungs. When it works. But it's a machine, built by humans, and has its limitations and failures.

"And when a heart-lung bypass stops, you're in trouble," LeMaster said.

But since doctors and nurses have been training in simulation of such emergencies, they now handle them better.

"With something happens now, it barely bothers them, and they can fix it quickly without stress to the patient," LeMaster said.

That's the kind of training, and patient safety results, those hoping to bring to Wichita's health care community.

Paul Uhlig, a heart surgeon and associate professor of preventive medicine and public health at the KU medical school, is chair of the steering committee. He said the center is organizing itself as a nonprofit. The Wichita Community Foundation is taking donations for the project until the group gets its tax-exempt status.

Uhlig said the group hopes to raise $8 million of its startup costs through community donations, another $5 million through a one-time investment of local and state funds and $1 million in support from the local health care industry.

Tuesday's signing was a symbol of the community commitment to raise the funds.

"It's a statement of sincere interest in working together to create this center," Uhlig said.

The group is scouting several locations for the center, Uhlig said, which would be centrally located and easily accessible by all the health care centers and educational programs in the area.

The goal, Uhlig said, is to become a regional medical training center.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From Rural Health to the JayDoc Clinic: A Pre-Med’s Journey

Part 3
Why I Volunteer
I am not the kind of girl who likes to set an alarm for Saturday morning.  I am not the kind of girl who likes to set an alarm really any day of the week, but that is another story.  On the Saturdays I volunteer at the JayDoc Community Clinic (JCC) my alarm goes off at 7:00am.  I have come to affectionately call the Saturdays that I volunteer at the clinic my “JayDoc Saturdays.” Typically, the piercing noise coming from my alarm clock ranks right up there with nails on a chalkboard, but on JayDoc Saturdays things are different.  They’re different because on JayDoc Saturdays I am up before the alarm even has the chance to go off.  I am merrily bouncing all around my house getting ready for my day at the clinic.  I am excited about what my day potentially holds for me.  Questions race through my mind as I prepare for a day at the clinic.  What kind of patients will I have today?  What am I going to learn?  Will I be able to work the blood pressure cuff correctly?  Is someone bringing breakfast?  At this point, I need some answers and most likely some breakfast too.

On JayDoc Saturdays, I simply cannot wait to get to the clinic!  I just completed the spring semester at JCC and was given the opportunity to join the clinic for the fall semester as well.  Something about the JayDoc Clinic just keeps me coming back for more.  Why am I continuing to volunteer at JCC when I could clearly be sleeping in?  I have attempted to provide a few reasons for my choice to continue volunteering below.

Reason #1
You know the game shows where your prize is based on which door you choose?  You can choose door #1 and you know what that prize is, it’s a sure thing, done deal, no risk.  Then there is door #2 and you have no clue what is behind that door.  If you are feeling lucky, you can choose door #2 and hope for the best.  Well, I found that patients are always like choosing door #2.  As I bring back each patient to the exam room, I have no idea what is in store for me once I close the door. This could be a quick open and shut case or I could spend all day trying to assist this patient.  Once I get the patients in the exam room they have been known to laugh, cry, cough, gag, and/or watch me fall off my rolling chair (true story).  Do I feel completely prepared to handle the patients’ diverse needs?  – Not really.  I think this feeling of preparation is something that comes from experience and I will feel more prepared as time goes on.  For right now, when that exam room door closes what happens next is always a surprise, and I am going to be honest – it gives me an adrenaline rush.

Reason #2
I am a part of the patient care team on JayDoc Saturdays.  What I do and how I do it matters to these patients and to the success of the team.   The vitals I record and the information I obtain from the patient helps prepare the medical student to formulate a game plan and minimize “door #2 syndrome.”  

Being an active member of this team requires a lot of learning on my part and a lot of teaching on the part of the medical students, residents, and physicians.  During my most recent JayDoc Saturday, I learned the what and the how behind SOAP notes (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) and even got to deliver ¾ of a SOAP note to the attending resident physician.  I received a crash course on the different stages of hypertension and learned all about the devastating effects of high blood pressure on the human body.  This all occurred over the course of an hour.  I am so appreciative of the people I volunteer with at JCC.  They are incredibly supportive and always willing (and excited) to answer any question I may have.   My time at JCC has provided me with an invaluable learning opportunity.  I am very fortunate to have learned so much from the JCC volunteers and I look forward to what I will learn in the future. 

Reason #3  
Volunteering at the JayDoc Community Clinic is a truly humbling experience.  When my life gets stressful, school gets tough, and work is overwhelming, I come to JayDoc and I am immediately reminded of why I want to be a physician.  Suddenly, the path I have chosen for myself feels easier.  I feel energized and ready to continue my journey to becoming a physician.

Is that Flat Jaydoc?
Why sleep in when I could be volunteering at the JayDoc Community Clinic?  My enthusiasm for being a part of JayDoc Saturdays keeps me from having to hear the awful noise that emanates from my alarm clock in the morning.  I also save money because the adrenaline rush I get from being at the clinic allows me to work all day without caffeine.  From where I stand, my time at the clinic is truly a win-win situation.

-Auburn Weber, Rural Health Education and Services, University of Kansas Medical Center