Health Care Checkup: New cancer breakthrough, new Mercy chairman

The Health Care Checkup, a weekly rundown of the state’s top health care headlines, is sponsored by Heyen Wellness Therapies.

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research is located in Kansas City | Courtesy of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
The Stowers Institute for Medical Research | Courtesy of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Taking the pulse

Stowers Institute makes major breakthrough with inoperable tumors

New hope for cancer patients could soon be born in Kansas City. BioMed Valley Discoveries Inc., working with the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, has found a way to successfully attack tumors previously considered inoperable. The approach uses bacteria injected directly into the tumors to eat away at the low-oxygen tissue while leaving areas with regular oxygen counts alone. The treatment is still in its very early stages, having just been tested in a clinical trial on dogs with cancer, but the news already has people at Stowers, and at the companies that help fund it, very excited.

David Pratt succeeds Charles Thoele as Mercy chairman

Charles Thoele resigned as chairman of Mercy Health System’s board on Aug. 8 to tend to an ill family member. With the loss of one of its board’s founding members, Mercy tapped David Pratt, who’s a fellow board member, the CEO of outdoor retailer Gander Mountain and a St. Louis Cardinals minority owner, to succeed Thoele. Pratt has been a member of Mercy’s board since 1995, and the company’s Creve Coeur-based cancer center is named after him. Thoele will continue to serve on Mercy’s board in a lesser capacity.

Cerner’s Three Trails campus clears council

Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig (right) takes Gov. Jay Nixon on a tour of Cerner's proposed Three Trails Development in south Kansas City during a January 2014 press event. | Courtesy of Cerner
Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig (right) shows Gov. Jay Nixon Cerner’s proposed Three Trails Development in south Kansas City during a January 2014 press event. | Courtesy of Cerner

Kansas City’s top private-sector employer is one step closer to getting even bigger. The Kansas City Council on Thursday approved city incentives for Cerner’s new Three Trails campus, a project expected to cost $4.45 billion and create as many as 16,000 jobs by 2025.  The council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee had unanimously approved the proposal two days earlier. Construction on the 290-acre office complex is anticipated to begin later this year, and the first two buildings and service center are tentatively scheduled to open in 2017.

Stat of the week: $50,000

The amount of money raised since July 23 by MedAware, a mobile health care startup started by St. Louis-based Coolfire Solutions and Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The project is designed to give trauma surgeons information about incoming patients before they arrive, helping in preparedness and response time. The partners hope to raise $2.5 million for the project by this time next year, according to forms filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Quote of the week

“The insurance industry has a chokehold on the Legislature. In Missouri, we have no campaign finance limits at all, and that allows lobbying interests to have more power than in other states.”

— Missouri Senator Paul LeVota, D-Independence, on what he sees as the reason Missouri is one of the few states in the union without the right to review insurance rates before they’re taken to the public for sale. LeVota has twice tried to get bills on rate review through the Missouri Senate, and he says he will try a third time in January.

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