Robert Joiner

Health Reporter

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues.  He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.


Healthcare and Medicaid
3:59 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Sebelius Puts A Price And Face On Health Insurance Coverage In Missouri

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius holds a press conference with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in north St. Louis. Law student Nathaniel Carroll spoke about the benefit of having health insurance.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried to put a price tag and a face on the government’s health reform push in Missouri when she visited the Grace Hill Water Tower Health Center on Friday. 

The price tag: $5 million a day. That’s how much she says Missouri is losing by refusing to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The face: a local resident who praised the law for the help it is providing his family while he attends law school.

Read more
sickle cell anemia
1:05 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

SLU Tests New Treatment For Easing Pain Of Sickle Cell Anemia

The Jones family (from left) Delores, Diamond, Davon, and Dayvin.
Credit Robert Joiner

With her oversize black frame glasses, 9-year-old Diamond Jones projects an image of being a kid who is thoughtful, inclined to study, and who loves reading and attending school. All that is true. In fact, she’s so adamant about going to school that she has been known to pout occasionally on days when her parents keep her home for health reasons. 

Read more
lack family story
2:46 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

The Immortal Tale Of The Unethical Use Of Human Cells Recounted At Maryville University

Karen Collins (center) who teaches at Webster University, was among people attending a discussion Thursday at Maryville University by Kim Lacks (left) granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks; and Veronica Spencer, great-granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks.
(courtesy of Karen Collins)

Veronica Spencer seems to thrive on speaking to audiences about the heartbreaking story of a great-grandmother who became famous because of her cells.

“I love the travel,” Spencer said, during a visit Thursday to Maryville University. “I get to see the world, visit places I never expected to go. When someone hugs me and says thanks, I realize the person they are talking about is my great-grandmother who has done all of this for the world."

Read more
health report card
5:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Emergency Medical Report Cards are out. 'C-' For Missouri And 'D' For Illinois

Missouri beat the national average for emergency care, but not by much.
(National Institutes of Health)

Missouri gets generally good marks for disaster preparedness and access to emergency care, but it falls way short in addressing public health needs and medical liability issues. That's according to study by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The group gave Missouri an overall grade of C- on its health care report card, ranking it 22nd among all states. Illinois ranked 45th with a grade of D.

Read more
Missouri Poverty
2:38 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Coalition Urges State Action To Curb Rising Poverty In Missouri

Overall, Missouri's poverty rate grew 3 percentage points between 2008 and 2012. This map breaks down the rate of change by county during that same four-year period.
Missourians to End Poverty

Correction: An earlier version of this story used a version of the report that had not been updated. It contained incorrect information about the poverty rate in St. Louis County. This has been corrected.

Missouri’s poverty rate rose nearly 3 percentage points between 2008 and 2012, according to a report released today by a coalition of social service groups.

Read more
AIDS and the ACA
3:26 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Health Reform Law Threatens Care For AIDS Patients

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

The centerpiece of the federal government’s war against HIV/AIDS bears the name Ryan White.  

The public might not remember him without a little context. A hemophiliac who was diagnosed with AIDS at age 13, White drew international attention when he not only had to cope with the disease but also had to wage a legal fight to attend school with his classmates in Kokomo, Ind.,  following his diagnosis. He died in 1984 at the age of 18 after becoming a poster child for more compassion, counseling and medical care for those facing AIDS-related illnesses.

Read more
50 Years Ago
9:05 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

1963: A Fluid Year That Ended With Eyes On Berlin, Mandela And The Vatican

President John F. Kennedy spoke at the Berlin Wall in June.
Credit Robert Knudsen | White House

CBS News once described 1963 as “the year everything happened.” Not everything, of course, but it certainly included more than its share of unsettling and promising events, ranging from an international standoff with the Soviet Union to a presidential assassination that shook the world, from a landmark March on Washington to more enlightened policies toward women in the workplace.

These events are worth noting because they help us understand some subsequent developments over the past half a century.

Crack In The Wall

Read more
cancer victims
11:53 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Husband, Wife Find Strength From One Another As They Cope With Cancer

Cliff Fields (left), Sherrill Jackson and Sha Fields at a recent Breakfast Club event for cancer survivors
Credit Robert Joiner

The day Sha Fields was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, her fiancé came along to offer moral support, and he has been by her side since then. She says she used to wonder how to repay his years of unconditional support. The chance came last year, when the husband, Cliff, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Siteman Center for Advanced Medicine at Washington University had no data on how unusual it is for a husband and wife to have cancer, but Sha says she is hearing that the experience is becoming more common.

Read more
Old North Store
5:00 am
Thu December 26, 2013

High Prices, Limited Selection Shuttered Food Co-op In Old North

Business was brisk when the Old North Grocery Co-op opened.
Credit File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | Beacon

The business district of the Old North neighborhood, near 14th Street and St. Louis Ave., is still a work in progress. New enterprises include a pet shop and a podiatrist’s office, but old ones continue to close. One recent casualty was the Old North Grocery Co-op. After opening with a lively neighborhood celebration in the summer of 2010, the co-op quietly locked its doors in mid-October.

Read more
Urban League
11:28 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Despite Federal Cutbacks, Urban League Director Sees Opportunities

Opal Jones, CEO of Doorways, was among well-wishers at a recent community reception for local Urban League CEO Michael McMillan. Doorways provides housing and other services for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Credit Robert Joiner

Five months after settling in as the new CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Michael McMillan has been busy putting his imprint on the community service and civil rights organization. It’s a big responsibility, given the accomplishments of his predecessor, James Buford, who built the local group into the most successful affiliate of the National Urban League.

With a $23 million annual budget, the organization offers a range of services, from job training to utility assistance, to about 60,000 people.

Read more