News from Around the State

Friday, May 4, 2018

General Surgery Physician Brenner Dixon, MD, Joins Stormont Vail Health

Stormont Vail Health is proud to announce that Brenner Dixon, MD, has joined their medical team and will practice as a general surgery physician.

Dr. Dixon joined a pre-medicine group in college on a whim and found his passion and calling in life.

“I have always enjoyed working with my hands,” Dr. Dixon says. “But being able to see immediate relief for patients who have yet to find success in relieving their pain has been my favorite part of working in medicine.”

Dr. Dixon received his medical degree at the University of Colorado, Denver, in 2008. He completed his general surgery residency at West Virginia University, Morgantown, in 2014, and his minimally invasive surgery fellowship at St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2015.

“The general surgery field is in a state of major transition,” Dr. Dixon says. “With an emphasis on minimally invasive procedures, patients are often pleasantly surprised to find out that their procedure is either outpatient or requires a very short hospital stay.”

He enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children, playing card games and spending time outdoors hiking, biking and skiing.

Pate Named to 2018 Leadership Kansas Class

Brian Pate

Brian Pate, Chair of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics, has been named as one of the 40 new members of the 2018 Leadership Kansas Class announced last month by the Kansas Chamber. Each year the program receives nearly 700 nominations, narrowing it to a diverse group of Kansas leaders from across the state.

“One of the best surprises about my current position is realizing how being part of this regional medical school campus and our pediatric healthcare system, which serves as a referral center for two-thirds of the state, puts me in closer touch with parts of Kansas I really did not know or understand when I was in Kansas City,” Pate says. “The experience has cultivated in me an even deeper affection and appreciation for Kansas, the state I’m proud to have grown up in. I feel deeply honored to be part of the 2018 Leadership Kansas Class and very excited to meet new people and learn even more about Kansas.”

Celebrating its 40th year in 2018, the program begins with an orientation session in late April and culminates with graduation in October. According to the Kansas Chamber release distributed earlier this month, during the six months, class members participate in multiple three-day educational training sessions in different communities, interacting with a variety of experts and public leaders. Discussion topics include business, education, agriculture, public policy, societal health, economic development, government and more.

In addition to his leadership responsibilities in the Department of Pediatrics, Pate also is an associate professor and practices at Wesley Children’s Hospital. Board certified in General Pediatrics, Pate graduated from the KU School of Medicine-Wichita and did his residency at Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri.

SBAMH announced Dr. Jennifer Pharris as new CMO

Jennifer Pharris, DO

Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital announced Jennifer Pharris, DO, as the new Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Pharris currently is a physician in the SBA Medical Group – Family Practice in Augusta, a position she has held since July 2017.

“As a primary care provider, one of the things I’m really excited about is population health,” Dr. Pharris says. “Essentially, caring for a community and recognizing health and prevention are two aspects of medicine that often times aren’t given the appropriate amount of attention they require. We can work to be a healthier community through better choices every day and paying attention to preventive measures. I think that’s an important piece I’m bringing into looking at a whole hospital system and community.”

She is looking forward to the opportunities she will have as the CMO.

“The landscape of medicine is currently in a huge period of change,” Dr. Pharris says. “We are looking for new and innovative ways to change health care and the delivery of health care. This role gives me an advantageous position to help guide our hospital through that change.”

Dr. Pharris will embrace her administrative responsibilities on a part-time, as needed basis while continuing to be the anchor provider of the Augusta Family Clinic. While she is performing her CMO duties, her patients will have the option to be seen by her nurse practitioner.

Dr. Pharris earned her Doctor of Osteopathy degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2008 and completed her residency at Cox Family Medicine in Springfield, Missouri. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine and is certified in Basic Life Support.

She has worked in a variety of practices, including a multi-specialty group in Springfield, Missouri; a community health center in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and most recently, a hospital-owned group practice in Johnstown, Colorado.

Matt All Takes Helm at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Names Three New Vice Presidents

Matt All

There is new leadership at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, as Matt All becomes just the eighth President/CEO in the company’s 76-year history.

A fifth generation Kansan who was raised in Augusta and now lives in Lawrence, All brings more than 20 years of leadership and service to his new role. He joined Blue Cross in December 2006 after spending eight years in state government as assistant insurance commissioner and chief counsel to the governor. Through the course of his more than 11 years at Blue Cross, he has had the opportunity to learn nearly every aspect of the business by providing executive oversight for a diverse array of business functions.

“I am deeply honored to work on behalf of our members in communities across the state,” All says. “Alongside our 1,600 employees, I plan to carry on our 76-year commitment to providing Kansans peace of mind and access to a better quality of life.”

As part of the transition, All has named three new vice presidents to the company’s leadership team effective April 1.

Keith E. Kapp is the company’s new Vice President of Information Technology and services and Chief Information Officer. Kapp leads one of the company’s largest operating divisions, overseeing hundreds of employees who align the strategic vision and tactical execution of technology with the company’s goals and objectives. While Kapp is new to the company, he is no stranger to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and its information systems. He had worked for the company as a consultant since 2011, first working with customer service in his role as executive director of Customer Value Partners and then working within the IT&S division as an independent consultant.

Sunee N. Mickle has been promoted to the new position of Vice President of Government and Community Relations. In that role, Mickle is responsible for federal administration and congressional relations, state administration and legislative relations, and regulatory relations involving the Kansas Insurance Department and other agencies.

Scott Raymond was promoted to Vice President of Legal Services and General Counsel, bringing nearly 15 years of legal experience with Blue Cross to his position. As Vice President and General Counsel, Raymond provides legal counsel, manages litigation, leads the company’s legal services department and oversees the records management program. He also serves as Corporate Secretary for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation.

Other members of the corporate steering committee include Fredrick D. Palenske, Senior Vice President, Provider and Government Affairs; Michael Atwood, MD, CHIE, Vice President, Medical Affairs; Abby Lear, Vice President, Administrative Services; Treena Mason, Vice President, Group Sales and Marketing; Shelley Pittman, Vice President, Operations and Individual Sales; and Ron Simmons, Vice President, Finance.

Wesley Medical Center Names Randi Koehn New Director of Trauma Services

Randi Koehn

Wesley Medical Center has named Randi Koehn to serve as its new Director of Adult and Pediatric Trauma Services.

“We are very excited to have Randi leading our trauma services team,” says Casey Guber, COO for Wesley Healthcare. “She has close to 20 years of trauma nursing experience and will be integral in helping advance our trauma services throughout Kansas.”

Koehn comes to Wesley after serving as the director of trauma at HCA’s Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado. In her role there, she managed the implementation of the adult Level II trauma program and as oversaw their injury prevention and outreach trauma programs.

Previously in her career, Koehn held the position of trauma program manager at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana, after progressing through a variety of management roles at healthcare facilities in Wichita and Augusta, Kansas. She also has worked as an adjunct nursing faculty member of Montana State University.

Koehn received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Newman University and her master’s degree in nursing education from Fort Hays State University.

“Sometimes the only thing that separates someone from trauma is three seconds of change,” Koehn says. “My greatest passion is being part of a team like Wesley’s that helps to bring healing to those who are caught up in that three seconds and have experienced a traumatic injury.”

Koehn holds several certifications in trauma services, including advanced cardiovascular life support and advanced trauma care for nurses. She serves as an advanced trauma care and trauma nursing core course faculty member and course director. She is a member of Emergency Nurses Association and Society of Trauma Nurses.

KHIN and KDHE Collaborate to Distribute over $4 million in Support of Statewide HIE Participation

Striving to achieve a collaborative healthcare system in Kansas, the Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN) and the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) distributed more than $4 million in 2016–17. The funding encourages and enhances Kansas hospitals’ and providers’ participation in a statewide health information exchange (HIE). In 2017, $3,188,200 was distributed. Overall, the amount distributed was $4,113,200.

“The availability of 90/10 funding through KHIN has been critical to our ability to upgrade our Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems and ensure effective interface and integration with the Affordable Care Act exchange,” says Venus Lee, Associate Executive Officer of GraceMed Health Clinic Inc. in Wichita, one of the recipients of the funding. “As one of the largest networks of Federally Qualified Health Center Clinics in Kansas, we see a high volume of Medicaid patients, so an effective patient information verification process is important to the quality of the service we provide. The final rule funds from KHIN have been enormously helpful in our ability to coordinate eligibility data in a seamless environment.”

Many Medicaid-eligible hospitals and providers qualify for this program, which provides 90 percent federal matching funds with the state delivering a 10 percent non-federal match for this investment. The distribution from KHIN delivers Kansas’ 10 percent match.

The one-time funding may be used by hospitals and providers for a wide range of HIE activities, including onboarding costs for participating in a health information exchange, such as KHIN. The overarching goal is to increase interoperability among providers, which means the ability to exchange information among two or more systems, as well as to use the exchanged information.

SBA Cancer Center First in Area to Use 3D Printer with Treatments

The SBA Cancer Center continues to invest in the latest technology to treat cancer patients. With funding from the Ramon Criss Memorial through the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Cancer Center recently purchased a 3D printer and the software to aid in radiation therapy.

“We are excited to have this new technology at the Cancer Center,” says Jamie Richards, MS, RT(R)(T), SBA Radiation Oncology Manager. “We offer state-of-the-art technology to our patients and this continues that tradition. The 3D printer will allow us to continue to improve the treatment of cancer.”

The printer is used to create a bolus, which is a material with properties equivalent to tissue when irradiated. It is placed on the patient’s skin during treatment and can fill in missing tissues or decrease air gaps within the treatment area.

“There are radiation plans where the beams go deeper than the area we want to treat,” explains Craig Keller, SBA radiation therapist. “This reduces the depth of the dose.”

In the past, the Cancer Center has used a generic product that worked fine on skin that was a flat surface but not if there were curves, which created gaps. With the 3D printer, they are able to take a patient’s CT scan and create a custom bolus that fits the area being treated.

It will improve the accuracy of the dose, while decreasing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

“This lets the treatment be closer to what we want,” Keller said.

SBA is the first hospital in this area to implement this technology.

“The Cancer Center is an important part of SBA and the Foundation is pleased to be able to contribute in the continued improvements in technology and treatment they offer their patients,” said Chase Locke, Foundation Executive Director. “The 3D printer is just one example of the cutting edge technology the Cancer Center has available for cancer patients.”

New Health Ranking Report Shows Encouraging Overall Trends but Widening State Disparities for Women and Children

Promoting the health of women, infants and children is fundamental to keeping our communities and nation healthy — both today and for future generations. Community leaders, public health officials and policymakers can help build better communities by understanding the health of women during their reproductive years, infants and children.

The United Health Foundation is proud to continue to identify areas of success as well as challenges for the health of women, infants and children.

America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report uses 62 health indicators, including those that examine the community and environment, clinical care, behaviors, policies and health outcomes, to better understand the changing health of women and children across the country and state by state.

Encouraging findings include nationwide declines in tobacco use among women and children, as well as progress across key markers of care, including an increase in the percentage of women with a dedicated healthcare provider, a decline in the percentage of uninsured women and a decline in teen births.

Challenges include increases in key mortality rates, with key measures of mortality for women and children increasing since 2016, including an increase in the rate of drug deaths among females aged 15–44 and an increase in the nation’s maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births.

Additionally, different states produced notable differences in mortality rates, highlighting alarming health disparities along state lines, and researchers observed a wide variation across states for the rate of well-visits for women, infants and adolescents.

Please visit for state-by-state details and additional information.