Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

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. 

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Adrian Clark | Flickr

The state agency that provides Medicaid coverage to more than 840,000 Missourians does not have proper oversight over contractors in charge of certain aspects of payment processing, according to an audit released Monday of MO HealthNet.  

The report by the office of Tom Schweich, the Missouri state auditor, identified four areas of concern:

St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar speaks to reporters on Dec. 24, 2014 about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Antonio Martin by a Berkeley police officer. Berkeley chief Frank McCall looks on.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated at 2:55 p.m., Wed., Dec. 24 with additional surveillance video)

(You can also follow live updates related to this story on our live blog).

St. Louis County police are investigating another fatal officer-involved shooting in north St. Louis County.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Despite progress in unemployment rates, the number of St. Louis residents who were uninsured in 2013 was almost the same as it was five years ago, according to an annual report by the St. Louis Regional Health Commission.   

Protesters sit on the steps of St. Louis City Hall, as locked metal grilles bar the doors at a protest on Dec. 17, 2014
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

About 50 protesters who marched to St. Louis City Hall Wednesday were greeted with locked metal grilles barring the doors.  For approximately two hours, employees were unable to go in or out, and residents hoping to pick up paperwork were turned away.  

Protesters briefly blocked traffic at the intersection of Tucker Blvd. and Market St., before they were ordered to the sidewalk by police. Then, about 25 laid down in front of City Hall for a ‘die in,’ while others sat nearby.

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

Post updated 12/16/14 with response from St. Louis City Health Department.

A new federal report shows that the city of St. Louis had the highest rate of chlamydia and the second-highest rate of gonorrhea infections among major U.S. cities in 2013.  

"We've had persistently high rates for a long time," said Brad Stoner, who directs the St. Louis STD and HIV Prevention Training Center at Washington University. "These rates are difficult to bring down unless we develop a concerted, community-wide effort to reach out, screen and treat populations at risk." 

Louise Flick, DrPH, principal investigator for the National Children’s Study Gateway Study Center and professor at SLU School of Public Health, Edwin Trevathan, M.D., MPH, dean of SLU’s School of Public Health (center), & Craig Schmid, St. Louis Alderman
Chad Williams | Saint Louis University Medical Center

Its magnitude was ambitious and unprecedented: The National Children’s Study promised to follow 100,000 American children from before birth to the age of 21. Researchers sought a better understanding of autism, obesity and cancer by tracking links between children’s environments and their health outcomes. Since 2007, Congress has appropriated about $1.3 billion to fund planning and research; millions went to four research centers in the St. Louis region alone.  

President and CEO, Maryann Reese, stands in front of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in downtown Belleville, IL. The current building was completed in 1954.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 12/16/14: St. Elizabeth's Hospital has asked the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to delay their planned vote over the hospital's move because not all board members will not be present at their December 16 meeting. The board's next meeting is January 27, 2015.

Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services.
US Department of Health and Human Services

If you’ve been taking your time to peruse the insurance plans on Healthcare.gov, there’s only one week left to enroll for coverage that begins on the first of the year. (The exchanges will remain open until Feb. 15, however.)

Child therapist Anita Blackwell (right) attends a workshop for Emotional Emancipation Circles on December 6, 2014 at Harris Stowe University.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

“My soul is grieving. Our collective soul is grieving,” Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills said as she opened her training session for psychologists establishing therapy groups in a post-Ferguson world.  

The groups are called Emotional Emancipation Circles, or EEC’s, and they’re conducted in a specific way: create a safe space for people to talk about the racism they experience. Validate that experience. And give participants emotional tools to go forward.

Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who, after contracting AIDS at age 13, advocated for a more considered approach to those facing AIDS-related illnesses.
(via Wikimedia Commons/Wildhartlivie)

For people who live with HIV/AIDS, the cost of anti-retroviral medications, doctor’s visits and other medical care can quickly amount to thousands of dollars each month. Health insurance can keep these costs affordable, and the federal Ryan White program pays the cost of insurance for Missourians who meet certain income guidelines. 

But choosing a plan that works for people living with HIV can still be a challenge, and it’s a process Tom Kribben knows well.

Ka’milla McMiller (center) links arms with two other protesters to block the intersection of Kingshighway and Manchester Ave on November 26.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Thumping their chests in unison, about 125 protesters blocking a major intersection in the Grove neighborhood staged a protest that mirrored those of the past few months; but with a slightly different message.

“Trans Lives Matter!” 

After a 4 and a half minute moment of silence, the group then marched up Manchester Avenue, as bar-goers walked outside to take pictures or raise their hands in solidarity.

On South Florissant Road 1125
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The second day of post-grand jury protest in Ferguson unfolded in a familiar pattern. It began peacefully and ended with broken windows, tear gas and instructions to disperse. Forty-five people were arrested, the majority for misdemeanor offenses.

A mother and her son react to the grand jury decision, watched over livestream, at West Side Missionary Baptist Church in North St. Louis County.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Audible groans murmured through the West Side Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis County when county prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced, via livestream, that no charges would be filed against Officer Darren Wilson.

Church leaders switched off the projector and the Rev. Starsky Wilson stood to give a sermon, calling for dissent.   

“The question is whether our faith will produce anything as an alternative witness to the system that has both broken, busted and disgusted,” Wilson said.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Labadie
Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Post updated 11:13 a.m. on Monday, 11/24/14. 

After four years and a court order that pitted environmental groups against the coal industry, the Environmental Protection Agency is nearing its December deadline to finalize regulations for how coal-fired power plants dispose of the ash they create.  

Coal ash — which contains toxic substances like mercury, lead and arsenic — can leach into groundwater if not properly contained. That has raised concerns among environmental groups who say Missouri does not properly regulate coal ash disposal.  

The Ebola virus, shown through transmission electron micrograph.
CDC

A female nurse who was admitted to Mercy Hospital Jefferson with a fever after returning from Liberia has returned home, officials confirmed Saturday night. 

The Ebola virus, shown through transmission electron micrograph.
CDC

Updated at 6:40 p.m.

A Jefferson County woman who was showing symptoms of Ebola has initially tested negative for the virus at Mercy Hospital in Crystal City. As a precautionary measure, officials said she will remain in an isolation room for treatment and will be monitored according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Curesa Atkins sits in her apartment at the Garfield Commons.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

When Curesa Atkins moved into her apartment at Garfield Commons, a group from her church decorated it for her.

“It was snowing, and I just thought, 'Thank God. I’m watching it from the other side of the window when there’s so, so many people out there,'” Atkins said.

Atkins, a 42-year-old former dental assistant, said she became homeless after a dealing with series of car repairs, a change in her marital status and, eventually, the loss of her job.

(Courtesy University City Children's Center)

About 12,300 fewer children attended federally subsidized day cares in Missouri during fiscal year 2013 than in 2012. That marks the largest decline in the country. But child service nonprofits say it’s unlikely the decline is due entirely to a reduction in need. Instead, it may be due to changes within the state agency that administers the funds.

Ferguson public safety press conference, 11-11-14. Belmar, Dotson, Ron Johnson, Isom, Bret Johnson, Replogle
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

(Updated at 9 p.m., Mon., Nov. 17)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard to protect “the two pillars: safety and speech’’ that he says could be tested in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision regarding the August police shooting that killed teenager Michael Brown. 

"Our goal is to keep the peace and allow folks' voices to be heard,'' Nixon said Monday night in a conference call with reporters.

Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

On Saturday, open enrollment season for Healthcare.gov begins. For the second time around, public health organizations and insurance "navigators" are holding outreach events, running ads, and looking for the remaining uninsured Missouri residents.

But who are those uninsured Missourians? And how have the changes implemented through the Affordable Care Act affected the state?  

Hundreds of thousands of people in Missouri are uninsured. Who are they?

Andre Wilson, an inclusive health advocate and transgender man, will speak at Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 13 and 14.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Andre Wilson lived as a woman for the first 43 years of his life. It was excruciating, he said.

“I lived a life of depression, suicidality. I couldn’t even explain to myself, let alone others, what the barriers were,” Wilson said. “One lives a life of never having access to the core self.”

When Wilson began hormone therapy to transition into becoming a man, everything changed.

Project Manager Tom Kappelmeier holds a model of the facility's landfill gas filtration system during a tour at the Milam Landfill.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a network of pipes underneath the Milam Landfill in East St. Louis. The pipes gather the methane and carbon dioxide given off when organic matter heats up and decomposes. And soon, the landfill will be using it to produce natural gas.

The landfill’s operator, Waste Management, received a $2.4 million dollar grant from the state of Illinois to build the facility, which is the first of its kind in the state. Total construction costs reached $19 million, according to the company.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

On Monday, Missourians had their first glimpse at the health insurance rates they can choose from on the federal exchange. According to some, that shouldn't have been the first time the information was public.

Missouri is one of only a few states that does not have a state entity tasked with reviewing health insurance rates before they are finalized. Consumer groups say that means Missourians might be paying more for health insurance on the federal exchange than they should be. 

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even though open enrollment doesn't start for several days, Healthcare.gov began on Monday to allow visitors to take a peek at the individual health insurance plans and rates that will be available for 2015. 

In the St. Louis area, two additional insurance companies  — Cigna and UnitedHealthcare — began offering plans on the federal exchange. For zip codes in St. Louis, the marketplace lists 41 plans with varying monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Ryan Barker of Cover Missouri said the additional competition likely led to a slight decrease in plan prices.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

The state of Missouri may be required to repay $11.5 million to the federal government, after miscalculating Medicaid payment rates for some case management services to people with developmental disabilities. The findings  were published last week in an audit by the Office of the Inspector General. 

File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A 2012 audit of the police department in Bel-Ridge is getting new attention from some members of the community's Board of Trustees.

Longtime resident and trustee Rachel White has been pushing for change since she found the audit this year in a stack of papers. It showed mismanagement and possible misconduct of officers. But the entity with the power to address it — the Village Board of Trustees —  had failed to make major changes.

Activist Lisa Fithian leads a training session at Greater St. Mark's Church in Dellwood. 11/08 Durrie Bouscaren
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

In Ferguson, nearly every store window is boarded up along West Florissant Avenue. Police department have stocked riot gear and held trainings to respond to potential civil unrest. And protesters have held sessions to organize their own response.

In many ways, it feels as though the St. Louis region is holding its breath awaiting the grand jury’s decision over whether the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown will face charges.

A processing floor at Express Scripts in north St. Louis County.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Just months after unveiling a multi-million dollar expansion of its headquarters in north St. Louis county, Express Scripts has announced it will lay off 400 people at multiple facilities around the country. That includes 90 people in St. Louis.

The layoffs are in addition to 1,890 jobs that were cut system-wide in May.

“These are difficult but necessary decisions we have to make in order to position our company for success, future growth and continued service excellence to clients and members,” spokesperson Brian Henry said in an email.

Xavier, Flickr Creative Commons
Xavier / Flickr Creative Commons

International and local human rights leaders will discuss their concerns for workers in the garment industry -- from cotton seed fields to textile factories and clothing distributors -- during a day-long symposium Saturday at Washington University.

St. Louis-based Monsanto is an underwriter of the event. The company has faced criticism of its own outsourcing practices in seed-production fields.

In 2005, according to metrics provided by the company, ten percent of field workers in India who produced hybrid cotton seeds for Monsanto were under the age of 14.

Lockerdome CEO Gabe Lozano (left) and project manager Kyle Cordia at the startup's headquarters in downtown St. Louis. 10/29/2014 Durrie Bouscaren/STL Public Radio
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Coding competitions have a way of bringing people together. And GlobalHack's next weekend hackathon will bring them to Ferguson

“Some of these people came from MIT, Wash U [Washington University], some of them came from their mom’s basement. Truth of the matter is, the only thing that matters in our world is that you can actually produce,” said local startup CEO Gabe Lozano, who co-founded GlobalHack.

GlobalHack III is the company's third quarterly competition and promises $50,000 in prize money. 

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