Communities throughout the Kansas City area are working to improve health and wellness at the local level. At the 2020 KCMS Virtual Annual Meeting on October 21, a panel of area mayors described recent health and wellness successes achieved in their communities:

  • Mayor Peggy Dunn of Leawood, Kan., cited the Johnson County Co-Responder program in which mental health clinicians from the Johnson County Mental Center are embedded within police departments. She also noted that Leawood offers free gun locks and a drug take-back program.
  • Mayor David Alvey of Kansas City, Kan., highlighted his community’s response to COVID-19, for which he brought together a coordinating group including health care, public health, emergency management, social work and more. The group met daily to bring information from their constituencies and in turn communicate information back to them. Public health decisions were made on the advice of health professionals and not on the basis of politics.
  • Mayor Eileen Weir of Independence, Mo., discussed how Independence has been a leader on many public health issues such as utility conservation and environmental protection. The city recently made a major investment in public transportation to help improve resident access to education, employment and health care. She praised fellow Independence resident and KCMS Lifetime Achievement Award winner Donald Potts, MD, for his efforts over the years to achieve clean indoor air and Tobacco 21 legislation.
  • Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Mo., noted how the city has been working to address the root causes and disparities that underly such issues as violent crime. The Health Department contributes to policymaking in housing, criminal justice and economic development. The Healthy Homes program provides minimum health standards for rental housing. Moderator Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, reminded the audience that Kansas City received the Culture of Health prize in 2015 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The mayors also encouraged physicians to get more involved by speaking out and sharing their stories with the public. “Remain as civically engaged as you possibly can,” Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “The loudest voices I hear from each day say the mask mandate is the worst thing we’ve ever done. Use what you know and what you see to help the public understand (these measures), and helps amplify the message that Dr. (Lee) Norman, Dr. (Rex) Archer, Dr. (Samni) Areola and others are sharing each day.”

They also noted that cities are looking for physicians to serve on various appointed boards and commissions, even outside of health care. Mayor Lucas pointed out that the city has some 900 positions on boards and commissions. Leawood, Kan., Mayor Peggy Dunn commented, “People look to physicians for their wisdom, counsel and expertise.”

Thanks to moderator Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, and host Daphne Bascom, MD, PhD.

Also at the Annual Meeting, the KCMS 2020 Awards were presented.

Thank you to the Annual Meeting sponsors: