Durrie Bouscaren

Health and Science Reporter

Durrie Bouscaren covers healthcare and medical research throughout the St. Louis metro area. She comes most recently from Iowa Public Radio’s newsroom in Des Moines, where she reported on floods, a propane shortage, and small-town defense contractors. Since catching the radio bug in college, Bouscaren has freelanced and interned at NPR member stations WRVO, WAER and KQED. Her work has aired on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Harvest Public Media, a regional reporting collaborative. 

Ways to Connect

Workforce development specialist Darryl Jones teaches a class for the Save Our Sons program in north St. Louis County.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

For two years, Tyrell Stalling sent off job applications to no avail. Sometimes, he was homeless.

“At one point I took all the resumes I did and just threw them away. Because I was like, there’s no help. This world is just unfair,” Stalling said.

An example of a safe sleeping practice for infants, without a crib bumper.
National Institutes for Health

For babies who move around a lot at night, some new parents may purchase a padded bumper that goes around the edge of the crib to keep their little ones from hurting themselves. But according to a new review of product safety data, the products pose a serious suffocation hazard.  

“Parents walk into a store to buy a crib and they see the cribs with bumpers in them and they say,  'Well, if they weren’t safe, they wouldn’t be selling them.' But that’s not correct,” said Dr. Bradley Thach, professor emeritus of Washington University and a longtime researcher for infant safety.  

The chlamydia bacteria, stained and viewed at 500 times.
National Cancer Institute | Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory

When Faisal Khan took the job of St. Louis County's director of health earlier this year, one of his first calls was to Melba Moore, St. Louis' new health director. He asked for he help to tackle regional problems like sexually transmitted diseases.

“She said yes; let’s do this,” Khan said. "Let’s start looking at issues such as STDs, violence prevention, obesity and poverty alleviation."

A silent witness display created by the Violence Prevention Center, to represent victims murdered in counties they serve. The shields on the chests tell who the victim was and their story, provided by family members.
provided by the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois

Domestic violence shelters in Illinois have spent the past months dipping into savings and cutting back staff. At least one has closed its doors to women and children. With the legislature unlikely to pass a budget anytime soon, service providers are looking to an uncertain future.  

“We’re running on a very skeleton crew,” said Debbie Sander, the executive director of Phoenix Crisis Center in Granite City. “We’ve not replaced staff members, due to the uncertainty of the finances.”

A vendor sells vegetables from Ferguson's EarthDance Farms at a weekly farmer's market.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Students at Ferguson-Florissant schools will see more locally grown produce in their lunches this year, after winning a Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The grant adds $91,500 to an existing program that works like a small business: The district hires high schoolers to prepare produce from local farms for the district’s schools to serve during student lunches. Shifts begin after school hours, and at $10 an hour, wages are competitive with other after school jobs.

A view of a lake from the Katy Trail in St. Charles.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As soon as January, environmentalists plan to file suit in an effort to force Missouri to establish stricter regulations over water pollution.

Katie Dorr, 29-year-old a second-year nursing student, pays $125 a month for the least expensive health insurance she could find. Enrollment is required for her to continue her studies.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In this season of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, there’s a group of people who might be uninsured: nursing students.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

The state of Missouri is on the line to repay about $100 million in to the federal government, unless the state’s Department of Social Services wins a lawsuit that’s brewing in district court.

The details are a bit wonky, so here are a few items to help outline the basics.

We Must Stop Killing Each Other signs are posted on the security gate of a building near where Mansur Ball-Bey was shot by police.
Linda Lockhart I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is nearly ready to be awarded a nearly $1 million, three-year violence prevention grant for the near north side. To receive the money, the Board of Aldermen just have to approve the measure.  

The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice totals $999,858.60 and is known as the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. It focuses on a neighborhood with a “concentration of crime hot spots.” The proposal under consideration by the Board of Aldermen targets Carr Square and Columbus Square, which have seen four homicides in the past two years, according to police data.

Maliyah Isadora, 2 months, and her mother Courtney at their home in Florissant. Maliyah was just four pounds at birth, so the family enrolled in a program to receive home visits from nurses.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In the zip codes surrounding St. Louis’ nationally-ranked children’s hospitals, a disproportionate number of babies never make it to their first birthday.

North of the Delmar Loop, in 63113, the infant mortality rate is 20 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the most recent five-year averages kept by the state. That’s more than three times the U.S. rate, and on par with countries like Nicaragua and the Marshall Islands. But just a few miles away from 63113’s empty cribs, less than four out of 1,000 babies born in the Clayton's 63105 zip code die in their first year.

Dean Puckett (left), a federal navigator, and Ashlei Howard, a certified application counselor, sit in their new offices at the St. Louis Effort for AIDS just two days before the start of open enrollment season.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As the third year of Healthcare.gov gets underway, an estimated 90,000 people in the St. Louis region are still uninsured and eligible to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. 

Effort for AIDS counselors like Sade Singleton have spent the past few months leading up to enrollment doing outreach and health literacy presentations throughout the region. Last year, the nonprofit helped about 700 people sign up for health insurance in St. Louis. 

Since this map was created, EPA contractors have detected more radioactive waste than what is shown in pink, including some along the southern edge of OU-1 in what is called the "muffin top" of the north quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill.
Debbie Kring | U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Representatives from two federal agencies took heated criticism over the management of a former dumpsite for radioactive material and a nearby underground smolder at the Bridgeton Landfill on Monday night, as they tried to assure residents that their data suggests the surrounding communities are safe.

300 wide
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Shots aren’t for everyone, but the manufacturer of a nasal spray version of the vaccine experienced a technical issue early in the season that caused shipping delays.

At Forest Park Peds in St. Louis, office manager Gail McCarthy says the clinic has been receiving just a percentage of the FluMist vaccines they’d originally ordered.

Medical professionals raise hands during a room-wide survey of whether they have provided care to someone they knew or believed was a victim of human trafficking.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A young woman comes into an emergency room, trailed by a much older boyfriend who answers questions for her. A man with a broken ankle and no identification asks a doctor to promise the hospital will not tell his employer that he sought medical care.  

The robot Max, in action at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.
Nassim Benchaabane| St. Louis Public Radio

A whirr, a few beeps and an intense, sustained flash of light. After five minutes, the surfaces in one part of a hospital room are completely disinfected, thanks to a robot named Max.

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. In fact, Max sort of looks like R2D2’s bulkier, germophobic cousin. It’s one of two robots (the other is named “Zappy”) recently purchased by St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville to combat “superbugs,” a term for bacteria that have evolved to be resistant to antibiotics.

A water stain on a basement wall.
provided by EPA

Indoor mold can pose a health hazard for people with allergies, asthma or lung illnesses. But there are few regulations for what St. Louis area landlords are required to do about it.

Lee Camp, an attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, estimates that a quarter of his housing cases involve disputes with a tenant and their landlord over mold.   

Advocate and author Christine McDonald, right, listens to Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner's testimony during a public hearing in St. Louis about human trafficking.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

About three dozen minors in the St. Louis region have been rescued from sex trafficking so far this year, and a nationwide sting last week recovered 149 children, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But during a public hearing in St. Louis, local agencies who help victims said they’re strapped for resources.

Dr. Michael Bavlsik works as medical director at Barnes Jewish Extended Care in Clayton. He received a nerve-transfer surgery after a spinal cord injury, and has since been able to improve function in his arms, wrists and hands.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Michael Bavlsik uses a motorized wheelchair to visit his patients at an extended care facility in Clayton. It’s been more than three years since his spine was crushed in a severe highway collision, when he was driving a van of Boy Scouts home from a camp in Minnesota.   

“The 11 boys who were in the van got out and were all unharmed, but the roof of the van was deformed and crushed me,” Bavlsik said.

The Sisters of Mercy Health System debuted their newly-constructed, $54 million Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield on Tuesday. The building will house 330 employees to assist doctors and patients across four states, according to the network.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A doorbell rings in a patient's room. A monitor swivels around, showing a real-time video of a nurse making her rounds for the day. 

"Good morning, Mr. Rhodes. How are you doing this morning?" the nurse asks, her eyes scanning a number of screens that show her patient's vital signs and notes from his electronic health record. 

Parents cheer during a football game against Christian Brothers College High School at St. Louis University High on Friday. At left, Verlion Evans cheers for her nephew, Andrew Clair.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When she was a student at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School back in the 70s, Betty Pearson would ring a cowbell every time the Blue Devils made a touchdown. Her high school sweetheart — now her husband — played football, and their oldest son later followed in his footsteps. So when the school board announced they were ending the district's high school football program due to a lack of interest, Pearson was pretty shocked.

“I was first sad! I was like, 'Oh wow.' You know?” Pearson said.