Morning Medical Update Monday 10-11-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


            The number of COVID patients The University of Kansas Health System is steady today. 15 with the active virus are being treated, up from 14 on Friday. Only one of those patients is vaccinated. Six patients are in the ICU, up from five Friday. Five are on ventilators, up from four Friday. 30 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 36 Friday. That’s a total of 45 patients, down from 50 on Friday. HaysMed reports 13 total patients, down from 15 Friday.

            On today’s Morning Medical Update, we went live to Missy's Boutique, a special shop for cancer patients at our Westwood Cancer Center, created in the memory of two women who lost their battles with the disease. Judy Newell is the extraordinary woman who keeps their memory alive. She's also the manager and powerhouse behind this accredited boutique.

            Before getting to the main topic, doctors discussed news about drug maker Merck asking U.S. regulators today to authorize its pill against COVID in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world's arsenal against the pandemic. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, a decision that could come in a matter of weeks, it would be the first pill shown to treat the virus. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection. While not as effective as monoclonal antibody treatment, it still reduces hospitalization by 50% and it would cost less without requiring hours in an infusion clinic. Doctors say this could be a game changer, similar to the way Tamiflu helps lessen symptoms of influenza, and say it’s an important addition to the treatment regimen against COVID. But they caution that this would not be used to prevent COVID. The study was done only with unvaccinated patients and they say vaccination will help keep you from having to use the pill.

            A study published by American Health and Drug Benefits finds the average cost to a patient battling breast cancer is nearly 86-thousand dollars. It's the last thing you want to think about or be burdened with while going through cancer. Missys' Boutique at The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion in Westwood helps serve the underserved and provides comfort, dignity, support and friendship for women during this time. One of those patients was Laurie Hartman, whose story we shared.

Judy Newell is the appearance center manager and took us on a live tour of the shop. She explained how Missys’ came to be 12 years ago, and talked about the two women, both named Missy, who inspired it. She showed us the various parts of the retail center, including the wig fitting room, where they counsel and help women whose hair is affected by chemotherapy. She also showed the special bra fitting room, where breast surgery patients can be fitted comfortably. Also on display are bags, purses, jewelry, clothing, gifts, and a special line of creams to help ease the effects of radiation. She explained that Missys’ is an accredited boutique, and what that means. She also says you don’t have to be a patient of the KU Cancer Center to shop or use the services, but you do need a doctor’s prescription for services and an appointment is recommended. She stressed the boutique is completely safe and all workers follow strict COVID protocols, which is important for many immunocompromised cancer patients. She wants everyone to know cost should not keep someone from coming to the boutique for services thanks to a special Patient in Need fund. Missys’, she says, should be a place of hope and comfort, and told the story of a depressed woman who brought along a group of her sorority sisters for support at a wig fitting. Judy suggested each woman take a turn at clipping off a part of their friend’s hair, which brightened everyone’s mood and soon their laughter could be heard down the halls of the cancer center. Stories like, she says, are what make it all worthwhile. As one grateful patient put it, “Missys’ is like the Hope Diamond. You can’t put a price on it.”

Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, explained why emotional support is just as important as medical treatment in fighting any disease, especially breast cancer. Taking care of the whole patient provides the best outcomes. He also wanted to remind people that just because the Pfizer vaccine has been given the brand name COMIRNATY, nothing has changed and it’s still the exact same medicine approved for use. He thinks the lower COVID patient numbers we’re seeing is great but says we must all trust the science and get vaccinated if we’re going to get back to the way we want things to be.

Dr. Hawkinson emphasized why getting vaccinated is much preferred over having to take a pill to treat the COVID infection. He says if you get the disease you’re “rolling the dice” and are at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Any treatment such as a pill or monoclonal antibodies is no substitute for preventing the disease in the first place.        

            Tuesday, October 12 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. As we continue to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, tomorrow it's a special milestone, the 100th patient to receive an advanced cancer treatment called Intra-operative radiation therapy, or IORT. We'll take you live to the Operating room and again talk about why screening and early detection often allows for more advanced treatment options like this.

NOTE:  Journalists should rejoin the Morning Medical Update at 8am as doctors are growing too busy again for individual interview requests.  Please bring questions or send to until further notice.  Thanks for all you do and helping to keep the community safe with your reporting.

ATTENTION: media procedure for calling in:

 The meeting is available by Zoom, both video and by phone. To join the Zoom Meeting by video, click

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