Wednesday, January 26, 2011

KMOM update

Just wanted to share the great news about the KMOM dental project from this past weekend!

The Tenth Kansas Mission of Mercy Dental Project Completed

by Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation on Monday, January 24, 2011

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation completed its tenth Kansas Mission of Mercy Dental Project this past weekend in Hutchinson, KS.  The project provides free dental care to low-income individuals in a first come, first served clinic.  The KMOM Hutchinson project treated 1638 patients with dental care valued at $1.25 million.

“This was the largest project we have ever done in terms of dollars of care,” said Greg Hill, Executive Director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation.

To date, more than 19,000 patients have received dental care through the KMOM project and nearly $10 million in care has been delivered. 

“One number that always sticks out in people’s minds is the number of tooth extractions that we do at a project.  In Hutchinson, we extracted a total of 4389 teeth.  In our ten projects combined, we have done 30,856 extractions.”

The Kansas Mission of Mercy provides this free service once a year at a different location in the state.  Projects in the past have been held in Garden City (twice), Kansas City, Pittsburg, Salina, Wichita, Topeka, Manhattan and Independence.  Locations and dates in Kansas City are being explored for the 2012 project.

 “While talking with patients, every single one I spoke with said that without adult Medicaid, they simply were unable to get the dental care they need,” Hill said.  “It’s one thing for a dentist to provide charitable work in their office ,which many do, but it’s something entirely different when we are looking at this many people.”

According to a report by the Pew Foundation, Kansas Dentists provide $46.3 million in charity and reduced-fee care to patients every year.

“This amounts to $33,000 in care done by every dentist across the state annually.  In comparison, Kansas Medicaid paid $27 million for dental treatment in FY2007,” Hill said.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kansas Recruitment Center brings new health care provider to Emporia, Kan.

Alana Fearey, DO, Internal Medicine Physician, will join the team at the Medical Arts Clinic in Emporia, Kan., the summer of 2011. 

Fearey has known for many years that a career as a physician was the lifestyle that she wanted to pursue.  She graduated from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in May 2008 as an osteopathic physician and will complete the Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita in June of 2011.

“I’m excited to begin practicing in Emporia as I’ve always known that I want to help the underserved communities. At the Medical Arts Clinic, I know that I am joining a team of physicians with outstanding reputations in quality health care,” Fearey stated. 

According to Kent Palmberg, MD, Fearey is a wonderful fit for the Medical Arts Clinic. “We needed a traditional internist to join our team and she was willing to come to a practice that required she do both office-based and hospital medicine. That’s what she wanted as well.” 

The Kansas Recruitment Center (KRC) seeks to enhance the quality and quantity of health care professionals in rural Kansas by helping health care providers, like Dr. Fearey, find a home practice in Kansas. For rural organizations, the KRC provides job opportunity postings and placement assistance. For health care professionals, the KRC serves as a career service center by matching candidates with openings in the state.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2,000 expected at free dental clinic in Hutchinson

The Wichita Eagle

"Organizers expect at least 2,000 people to seek free dental care at this weekend's Kansas Mission of Mercy dental clinic in Hutchinson.

The Sunflower building at the Kansas State Fairgrounds will open Thursday night, when organizers expect people to begin gathering. The free clinic opens at 5:30 a.m. Friday.

"Honestly, based on the last several projects we have done, it would not surprise me if the first patients are there by the middle of the afternoon on Thursday," said Greg Hill, executive director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation.

Because large crowds and many hours of waiting are expected, Hill said, people can wait in the heated Sunflower building. People are encouraged to bring sleeping bags.

Dental procedures will be done in the neighboring Meadowlark building.

"By the time we open on Friday, I expect there will be about 800 or so patients waiting,'' Hill said.

Beginning in 2003, the foundation started hosting free dental clinics aimed at low-income and uninsured people.

The first clinic was in Garden City and modeled after similar ones in Virginia and Texas. Other clinics have been held in other regions of the state including Kansas City, Independence, Pittsburg, Salina, Topeka and Wichita.

Patients targeted are those in need of urgent dental care, including extraction, fillings and cleanings.

"We will treat people with no money, no insurance, no proof of income — assuming we are able to provide the care they need," Hill said. "We will do as much as we can without any charge to the patients."

Since they began, the dental clinics have served more than 17,500 people and provided more than $8.5 million in dental care.

A volunteer effort, this clinic will include 136 dentists, 133 hygienists, 183 dental assistants, 30 medical personnel and 450 community volunteers to help serve food and provide escorts for patients.

Volunteers come from across the state, with many dentists volunteering their own time and even paying for their staff to assist them, Hill said.

"It is very much a charitable, giving project," he said. "It becomes a large contribution."

Because waits are expected to be long, volunteers serve breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. Interpreters will also be available to help patients who don't speak English. "

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Facing shortage, we can't just pull doctors out of a hat

RHES found this article on and wanted to share it. The opinions of the authors do not necessarily state or reflect those of Rural Health Education and Services, KUMC.

"Facing shortage, we can't just pull doctors out of a hat"
AMA Leader Commentary. By Cecil B. Wilson, MD, Posted Jan. 10, 2011.

"It has begun. In the first dozen days of this new year, more than 120,000 baby boomers have: a) turned 65 (at a rate of one every eight seconds); b) become Medicare eligible; and c) joined the list of people who may have difficulties in accessing a physician.

This is not a surprise, of course, but I hope that the oft-repeated statistic will force our nation and our government to face the harsh reality of America's current physician shortage, our growing underserved populations, and the dismal issue of access for those newly insured after 2014 under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

And a new physician pipeline that makes many people very nervous.

The shortages
Here's how it currently stacks up:

  • We anticipate a deficiency of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025.
  • Already, 22 states and 17 medical specialty societies are reporting shortages.
  • Despite the last-minute reprieve on SGR -- the apocryphally named sustainable growth rate formula -- many of us have been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients simply because we no longer can afford to serve them.
  • For decades, we have watched the physician population move into cities and high-population areas, leaving vast areas of this country woefully underserved.
  • There still is a primary care shortage -- at least partially because pay differentials for primary care physicians make it even more difficult to repay medical school debts, which average $155,000.
  • We see an even larger shortage in the Hispanic, black and other minority communities -- partly because of high medical school costs but also because there are few role models for those kids.
  • And then there is 2014, the year of shrinking access. That year, when the full provisions of the health reform law kick in, we will see 32 million more patients -- people who up to now have been uninsured and often without a physician.
  • If all that isn't enough, HHS estimates that a third of today's practicing physicians will retire during the next decade.
The situation is serious for the patients who do not have or cannot get a physician's care. It presents considerable challenges for those of us in medical practice as well.

Fortunately, the health reform law does begin to address the situation. Likewise, there are other small steps under way that slowly are making a difference.

Medical education and training
Although medical school tuition remains a huge stumbling block, especially for minorities, first-year medical students are on the increase -- predicted to be up 21% by 2013 over 2009. Many programs are growing; moreover, nearly two dozen new medical schools have opened, sought accreditation or been announced in the past three years.

This is good news.

However, we are not seeing a parallel growth in residency slots. Today there are about 110,000 residents nationwide. That is an 8% increase since 1987, but still far too few.

The number of Medicare-funded residency programs was capped at about 100,000 by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. In addition, fewer states can afford to offer GME funding with Medicaid dollars: 41 states today, down from 49 in 2005.

The AMA has worked actively to get Washington to increase the number of government-paid residencies -- and we can report some success in the health reform law's provision to fund 889 new primary care residency positions. This is commendable, but it is far fewer than the nation needs.

Reaching underserved geographies
As far as geographic coverage and physician access for specific populations, we can look to programs such as the National Health Service Corps that offer medical loans repayment to new physicians who practice in underserved areas.

The 2009 stimulus package and health reform law designated nearly $300 million for the NHSC to fund primary care practitioners. NHSC plans to have nearly 11,000 clinicians caring for more than 11 million people by the end of this year, a threefold increase since 2007.

Individual medical schools also are taking steps to build physician populations in underserved areas. One example is the new Texas Tech Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso, which aims to supply physicians for El Paso, the Texas-Mexico border area and west Texas. Currently, this region has fewer than half the national average of 254 doctors per 100,000 residents.

Increasing minority physicians
Underrepresented minorities in the ranks of physicians -- only 6% compared with 30% of the overall population -- is another problem that will only grow as our current minority groups swell to dominate the population by 2050.

On the upside, the AAMC has a major initiative to increase minority enrollment.

Since 2002 the AMA has sponsored Doctors Back to School, a mentoring program that sends minority physicians into schools to share their stories, serve as role models and raise awareness about the need for more minorities in medicine. In 2010, nearly 250 physicians participated. The AMA Foundation is one of many organizations that offer scholarships to minority medical students.

Individual medical schools also have initiatives to encourage minority physicians. Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., sponsors a summer program designed to encourage black, Hispanic and Native American high school and college students to pursue medical careers. In Illinois, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine's Academic Medicine Program helps disadvantaged college students get the credentials needed for medical school applications.

In the meantime ...
All the examples I have listed -- new medical schools, new residency options, programs to encourage minorities and place physicians in understaffed areas -- are commendable. But they are not enough. The numbers -- whether you consider them from the perspective of a physician or a patient -- are simply staggering.

I know some believe that since we already have too few physicians to handle our growing senior population, we should address that problem first, before we take on 32 million more newly insured patients.

To those Cassandras, I say that is not only unacceptable, it is morally reprehensible.

The health reform law was passed to alleviate an untenable situation in this wealthy nation. A nation, I might add, that has a history of rising to the occasion, as I believe we can and must do once again.

In a perverse sort of way, the growing access problem may provide the pressure to persuade our nation -- and Congress -- to do what we must do, and to do it now.

We must continue to expand medical schools.

We must address the high cost of medical education.

And we must eliminate the CME bottleneck. Resident and fellow training programs cannot be paid solely through Medicare. One answer is an all-payer system, financed by insurance companies and others who have a stake in America's health.

I know as Americans we can do this. And I look forward to the AMA and our physician community playing an important role."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RHES is Eager to Work With You in 2011

Rural Health Education and Services (RHES) wishes all of our friends, participants and clients a happy new year!

RHES would also like to remind you about the following programs that we administer:
•    Kansas Bridging Plan
•    Kansas Locum Tenens
•    Kansas Medical Resource
•    Kansas Recruitment Center

And the following services that we provide:
•    Kansas Connections, a quarterly newsletter
•    Kansas Career Opportunities Days
•    Focus On Kansas, an online resource
•    News in Brief, a bi-monthly e-newsletter

We look forward to working with all of you again in 2011.