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

A bill awaiting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s approval would require hospitals to disclose cost estimates to patients within three business days.

State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, sponsored the bill. It links hospital costs to 17 other measures related to healthcare, including a provision that would charge Medicaid patients for using the emergency room during a non-emergency. Another would allow doctors to charge those patients for missing an appointment. Patient advocates say the latter goes against federal law.

Wikimedia Commons

The classic lab mouse is black or white, eats a precisely measured diet to keep him lean, and is relatively young — probably a teenager or young adult in rodent years. His genes are nearly identical to the others around him, the result of generation upon generation of inbreeding for research purposes.

Those specs might help a scientist standardize her experiments, but they may also be holding some research back for one type of cancer drug, two St. Louis researchers argued in a recent review. Instead, they say that pre-clinical trials should include older mice, obese mice, and mice with different types of gut microbiota.

Lydia Adams speaks during the public comment section of the Ferguson Commission meeting. Adams was one of numerous speakers who spoke during Monday's meeting, which took place in Ferguson.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Foundation for Health has announced that it will donate $6 million to address health issues raised by the Ferguson Commission last year. The priorities include gun violence, food insecurity and toxic stress.

Tonya Sherry, right, goes over paper work with Mary Kay Fink at the MS Center of St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A new Medicare proposal would cut the link between the cost of many medications that are given in an outpatient clinic and how much doctors are paid to administer them.

Under current Medicare rules, drugs that have to be administered in an outpatient setting — such as chemotherapy, injections or drugs taken after an organ transplant — are reimbursed for the cost of the drug, plus six percent of the drug's price to pay for storage and handling.

Medicare has proposed cutting the reimbursement rate to 2.5 percent more than the drug's sale price, plus a flat fee of $16.80 per dose. But because of automatic federal budget cuts, for a few years doctors would be reimbursed less.

National Institutes for Health

Missouri’s insurance regulator could block Aetna and Humana from offering certain insurance plans in the state if they go forward with a $37 billion dollar merger announced last year.

Army Corps of Engineers

Three former aircraft workers and seven north St. Louis County residents who say they were exposed to radioactive waste stored near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after World War II, have filed a federal lawsuit against Mallinckrodt and the Cotter Corporation.

They hope to join a larger case, filed in 2012, that represents about 250 plaintiffs who lived or worked near the airport waste site, Coldwater Creek, and another storage site in Hazelwood

A worker does maintenance on a wastewater pump at the Bridgeton Landfill on Aug. 28.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency did not attend a public meeting to share updates on the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton late Monday after someone made threatening comments in a Facebook group for local advocates.

Robert C. Strunk, MD, (right) discusses results of a decades-long pediatric asthma study that involved Janae Smith, (middle) a patient and study participant, and Denise Rodgers, (left) who retired this year as a clinical research coordinator.
Washington University in St. Louis

Children who live with persistent asthma in childhood are at a higher risk of developing lung problems later in life, according to new findings from a national asthma study that began in the 1990s. A small number of patients even exhibited symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, in early adulthood.

Sam Johnson, left, assists a visitor at the food pantry he manages for St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church, in north St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sam Johnson helps people fill grocery carts at the food pantry he manages now, he notices that the items have been picked over more than usual.

“Normally we have meat. Chicken, we might have fish. But we ran out of meat that you can cook,” Johnson said.

Instead, a fold-out table offers a selection of canned chicken, SPAM and tuna in the basement on the grounds of the St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church, in north St. Louis.

In the past few years that Johnson has managed the pantry as a volunteer, he’s seen demand rise during the holidays and again in the summer. Now, he’s starting to see another group of newcomers: visitors who recently lost their public assistance benefits in the state’s latest round of cuts.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Legislators are scheduled to meet Thursday to consider a bill that would give Missouri’s regulating agency for insurers the chance to review health insurance rates before they affect consumers who use Healthcare.gov —and allow them to object if prices are about to jump too high.  

Map of the West Lake Landfill
Provided by the EPA

The owner of the Bridgeton Landfill is now on a deadline to install several components of a system that will separate radioactive waste from an underground smoldering fire.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 issued an Administrative Settlement Agreement Thursday that names deadlines for a heat extraction system, air monitors and temperature probes.

Project manager Miton Clayborn leads an orientation session at SLATE's offices in downtown St. Louis. Participant Sequoi Edwards sits on the right. Edwards hopes the training will help him run a youth-centered nonprofit.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

At an orientation for a new apprenticeship program to train child care workers in St. Louis, Serroge Watt signed up with his 2-year-old daughter, Korra, in mind.

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A lawsuit between Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and the operator of the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills has been sent back to St. Louis County’s Circuit Court by a federal judge.

In the study he led, Washington University researcher Darrell Hudson found the men in his focus groups were more than willing to discuss their experiences with racism and issues related to mental health.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

New insight from a Washington University study could improve access to mental health care for African-American men. 

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Scientists say frogs are one of the first "canaries in the coal mine" for climate change. That’s because they absorb a lot of what’s in the environment through their skin.

Phil Perino, who lives near the West Lake Landfill, listened in on a public meeting with the EPA on Monday evening.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Capping the radioactive contamination buried in the West Lake Landfill instead of moving the dirt offsite is one alternative the Environmental Protection Agency will consider this year as it determines a permanent solution for the site. But for residents in the crowd at a public meeting, it felt like a cruel round of deja vu. 

Tanjila Bolden-Myers, 38, stands in the hallway of Beaumont High School in St. Louis. She works as a behavioral health specialist, and was diagnosed with sickle cell disease as an infant.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up, as the searing pain of a sickle cell crisis would spread through her veins, Tanjila Bolden-Myers would ask her mother if this time, it would kill her.  

“I ask her now to this day, ‘Mom, how did you look me in my face and not break? Every time I asked you that?’” said Bolden-Myers, now 38. “And she was like, ‘No, baby, you’re not going to die this time. You’re not going to die.’”

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

The economy needs babies, but working women are often told that having kids will hurt their careers. So, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have crunched the numbers: Ladies, at least when it comes to finances, waiting until you’re 31 might make a difference.

Sphalerite, or zinc ore, from the Royal Cornwall Museum Collection.
University of Exeter

Updated on April 7, 2016 at 10:45 a.m. with comments from the EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that further actions are required at the Old American Zinc Plant in Fairmont City, as plans for clean-up are in the works.  

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feasts on the blood of CDC photographer James Gathany. Aedes aegypti is the type of mosquito most likely to carry Zika and other tropical diseases.
James Gathany | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The breed of mosquito most likely to carry the Zika virus probably won’t make its way to St. Louis this summer, but local public health agencies are still taking precautions.

Former nuclear weapons workers and their family members wait to file claims for a federal compensation program at the International Union of Operating Engineers Hall in Bridgeton.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Former nuclear weapons workers in the St. Louis area -- whose jobs may have put many of them at a greater risk for cancer, silicosis and other illnesses -- may be eligible to have their medical bills paid and receive lump-sum payments under a federal program.

But many workers and their surviving family members don't know about the program, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is why representatives are in Bridgeton this week conducting outreach sessions.

An aerial view of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at 3200 South 2nd Street.
NGA

The likely winner of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's new facility will be made public this week. A report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday will include the preferred location for the NGA's new west headquarters.

An underground fire has been smoldering in the Bridgeton Landfill for five years, about 1,000 feet away from tons of nuclear waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill has been detected farther south than previously reported, according to data released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new map shows contamination on the northern edge of the Bridgeton Landfill, a few hundred feet away from an underground smoldering fire that has existed since at least 2010. The contaminated soil, left over from the Manhattan Project, is about 70 to 80 feet underground in the newly discovered area, officials said.

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

The number of people getting the flu is on the way back down in the St. Louis region. It spiked slightly earlier this month.

The St. Louis County health department confirmed 207 cases of influenza this week, compared to 380 last week, and 295 the week before that. In St. Louis, the number of weekly flu cases peaked earlier this month just below 150.

The windows and the glass on the door of the Planned Parenthood clinic on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis were shattered by a vandal on Saturday.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

When the Missouri state legislature returns from its recess, the Senate will consider a budget that includes language pulling all state funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

“The taxpayers in the state have made it very clear; they do not want their tax dollars going to support abortion services. That’s the purpose of the language,” said Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, as she defended the measure before it passed the House earlier this month.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

The country’s broadening crisis of heroin and pain pill overdoses comes at a time when many centers for addiction treatment in the United States are operating at capacity. In the St. Louis region, providers report wait times of three weeks or more. A spike in addictions means more people seeking treatment, but at the same time, providers are constricted in their ability to expand.

A high-definition X-ray processes a sample at Saint Louis University.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

It took three years for Dr. Enrico Di Cera and his team to map prothrombin, the protein that causes human blood to form clots. They ran countless samples through a machine, trying to find the conditions that would form a crystal large enough to be seen by a specialized X-ray.

“That’s the part that’s like cooking, not an exact science,” Di Cera said, at his laboratory at Saint Louis University on Thursday.

Marcis Curtis, an artist and co-founder of Citizen Carpentry, organizes sticky notes during a brainstorming session at the Community Reaction Lab.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Two groups of St. Louisans took on a challenge this weekend that many in the region have spent years trying to address: Find a way to reduce gun violence in the community.

And there was a catch. The groups had just 24 hours to create a proposal.

An underground fire has been smoldering in the Bridgeton Landfill for five years, about 1,000 feet away from tons of nuclear waste in the adjacent West Lake Landfill.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s attorney general is publicly chiding the Environmental Protection Agency for its “repeated missed deadlines" in its oversight of radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill in north St. Louis County. An underground chemical reaction, commonly referred to as a fire, has been smoldering in the landfill next door since at least 2010.

In an open letter, Attorney General Chris Koster detailed three instances where EPA has promised information that it failed to deliver:

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Sixteen million dollars. That’s how much the state owes four southern Illinois hospitals, including St. Elizabeth’s in Belleville, according to hospital executive James Dover. He estimates that figure represents 10 to 15 percent of his operating budget over a six month period.

“It’s huge,” said Dover, president and CEO of the Southern Illinois Division of Hospital Sisters Health System, which is headquartered in Springfield. “We’ll never turn away a patient, but what other business would continue to take care of people while the state says ‘Sorry, we’re not going to pay you because we failed to pass a budget?’”

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