Robert Joiner | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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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.

people and produce
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.

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.

Hollee Brooks
Robert Joiner/St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon

Following years of dead-end jobs in the fast-food industry, Hollee Brooks decided to trade her restaurant uniform for scrubs, and train to become a medical technician. If she makes it through nine months of training and gets state certification and some experience, she'll earn considerably higher wages and enjoy employment benefits that usually elude those who flip hamburgers for a living. 

Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon

When Faye Paige Edwards woke up to numbing weather and a wind chill well below zero last Saturday morning, she expected some women to cancel plans to join her on their usual walk on the North Riverfront Trail near Hall Street and Riverview Boulevard.

But five women, including Edwards, did show up and began walking at 8 a.m. sharp, their boots making crunching sounds on the snow and ice on a trail where nothing else seemed to move except the glittering water in the Mississippi River.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Sherrill Jackson is a 21-year breast cancer survivor. Shermane Winters-Wofford is a two-time stroke victim. Isadore Wayne and Mellve Shahid are coping successfully with prostate cancer.

All four are known less for their adverse health experiences than for sending uplifting messages to black communities, dispelling myths about their illnesses and encouraging people to take advantage of medical screenings and other programs that can save lives.

President John F. Kennedy
White House photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Among the tributes to former President John F. Kennedy on this 50th anniversary year of his assassination is a website that helps visitors connect the dots to show ways in which the flame of optimism lit by the young president still burns in our time. He was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, at age 46. Visitors are able to express their thoughts on the Kennedy legacy by sending tweets and uploading text, photos and videos to the website, called “An Idea Lives On.”

This article originally appeared the St. Louis Beacon. - The rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace apparently hasn’t changed the level of consumer support for the health-reform program. For weeks, administration officials and policy analysts have been concerned that many people were confused about the law and might be turned off because of difficulties buying insurance through the insurance exchange.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The latest wrinkle in the Affordable Care Act centers on whether consumers should be allowed to keep health insurance plans that may offer less coverage than the minimum benefits envisioned in the health-care law.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When June Green’s eyesight is so weak that she is unable to drive, her first thought is about the tiring uphill trek to reach a Metro stop to board a bus to shop for groceries, visit a doctor or run other errands.

“On a good day,” she says, “I can make that walk. It might take me 25 minutes, but I can make it."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - A big challenge in health care is finding innovative ways to address the shortage of health practitioners to serve the needy. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, Mo., is focusing on the need to train more dentists who might serve patients in poor, rural communities in Missouri.

This article fist appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Only months after closing its specialty clinics, ConnectCare informed workers on Friday that it was eliminating the rest of its services on Nov. 15. The results will be a huge hole in the region’s medical safety net, officials say, noting that the urgent care center was on track to handle medical visits to about 17,000 patients.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In the '60s, it often seemed OK to ridicule serious social issues, including mental illness. The book "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" took aim at the administration of an institution in the Pacific Northwest. The real world of mental health policies began to change, however, in 1963, a year after the book was published, when a watershed federal law, the Community Mental Health Act, took effect.

Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: By Missouri’s refusal to expand its Medicaid program, more than 193,000 adults in the state will find themselves stuck in a coverage gap, come Jan. 1.

These are uninsured adults  who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to be eligible for the government subsidies that discount the price of private health insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Thinking of buying insurance through the exchange?

While you wait for programmers to fix the glitch-ridden sign-up system, grab a crib sheet and learn the terms that can help you make good decisions about coverage. Pay close attention to words like PPO, POS, deductible, co-payment, drug formulary and many more.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: La’Shay Williams, a graphic artist, likes nothing better than spending time creating fancy brochures, colorful outfits or even a striking mural that attests to the peace she feels since shaking off the taunting voices of demons in her head. Those imaginary voices used to fill her with rage as they drew her into expletive-filled shouting matches that made her “forget what peace was like.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A regional plan to attack youth violence by paying more attention to perpetrators and improving the safety and well-being of children and families was announced this morning by area political and community leaders.

“This violence is not just an East St. Louis issue or a city issue or county issue," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. "We know this is a regional economy and that poverty, mental-health issues, health issues and other things that impact youth violence and stability in families and children in our community really are regional issues.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It’s unusual for two supermarkets to open in St. Louis only months apart in or near neighborhoods where food deserts have taken root. That’s about to happen with the coming of two contrasting supermarkets.

Matthew DeCuffa with a patient
Provided by Saint Louis University | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Each Tuesday evening, some of the most medically underserved residents in St. Louis gather at a clinic in the Victor Roberts Building on the north side for generous access to medical advice. The discussions focus less on pills and prescriptions and more on wellness and prevention, with primary emphasis on measures the patients can take to improve their health.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, the health-care landscape is slowly changing, not only for the uninsured but for health-care providers and their employees. Part of that change was reflected in layoffs earlier this year at BJC HealthCare and more recently in changes in employee health insurance benefits.