Health

Randy Miller, right, participates in a group therapy session at Fontbonne University's Aphasia Boot Camp.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

74-year-old John Rush is trying to find the word for a type of fruit pictured on a card in front of him. He can’t see it, but other participants in this group therapy session are giving him hints: they’re small, round, you can put them in pies…

It’s on the tip of his tongue.

“Gosh, I have some at home,” he laughs, to a roomful of encouraging smiles.

Nate Birt | Provided

St. Louis County officials will soon decide whether to turn medical services at two county jails over to a private contractor. The decision is pending even as members of the medical community — including current justice center employees — have raised concerns over the dangers of privatizing healthcare in jail.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even Medicaid is out of reach for some of Missouri’s poorest children, who are uninsured at a rate 2.5 times as high as their counterparts in Illinois. Being uninsured can limit a child’s access to health care or wreak havoc on a family’s finances in the case of an emergency. 

New census numbers show that about 5 percent of Missouri children in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($3,348 a month for a family of three) did not have health insurance in 2014. In Illinois, which has twice as many low-income families, only 2 percent of children in that demographic were uninsured.

Chardial Samuel, (left) and Rochelle Moore staff the new SPOT clinic at Jennings Senior High.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As students at Jennings Senior High return for classes, a new school-based health clinic is scheduled to open in the coming weeks. It’s affiliated with “The SPOT,” an existing youth center in St. Louis that offers medical care, counseling and a safe space to stay and do homework.

In the new space at Jennings Senior High, coordinator Chardial Samuel walks through the nearly-finished rooms with a sense of excitement.

Little boy trying spinach.
Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A single school is like an entire community.

You've got the mayor, or principal. There is the general population, the students and their parents. There's a grocery store in the form of a cafeteria. And the teachers are kind of like doctors and police officers rolled into one. Within that batch of characters, there are gossips and scofflaws; actors and judges; even engineers and critics.

Graphic of woman on crutches overlooking treacherous landscpe
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

There are a few things we know about health care that are true for everyone. For one thing, it's expensive. It's a nearly $3 trillion industry in the U.S. Also, it's not easy to do well.

health map
Courtesy of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

For many students summer means freedom from school, but it can also mean hunger.

During the school year, many children receive up to two nutritious meals a day through free or reduced lunch programs. Organizations throughout the St. Louis region are working to make sure low-income children continue to receive those essential meals even when school is out of session.

Affinia Healthcare employees listen to a press conference held by Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. Affinia has increased its staff by 16 percent in the past four years with an influx of funding from the Affordable Care Act.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt visited a community health clinic in north St. Louis Thursday and pledged support for the model, which uses federal funds to provide basic healthcare services for people who are uninsured or living in poverty.   

The Affordable Care Act included an increase in funding to community health centers over the past five years. Congress has extended the funding for another two years.

A section of the Katy Trail in St. Charles, MO.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The longest Rails-to-Trails project in the country, and Missouri's "skinniest state park" turns 25 years old this year. After weathering floods, storms and even a tornado, the 240-mile long Katy Trail attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. 

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

In recent years, advancing technology has changed the way we go about our daily lives. From reading books on tablet devices to video chatting with a friend from afar, technology has ushered in new eras in our way of life.

But, how is technology shaping the world of health care? Health care experts joined “St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to discuss how telemedicine- virtual patient-doctor interaction- is changing the industry.

via Flckr/JeannetteGoodrich

The city of St. Louis has updated, localized information about how many residents are overweight. According to 2014 driver’s license data provided by the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles, about 61 percent of St. Louis residents are overweight or obese.

The St. Louis Health Department released a report analyzing the data on Wednesday.

Joining host Don Marsh were (from L to R) Vanessa Cooksey, Jason Purnell and Yemi Akande-Bartsch
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

For the Sake of All” is an interdisciplinary project addressing the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis and St. Louis County that began in 2013. A collaboration of Washington University and Saint Louis University, the project issued five policy briefs illuminating major areas of concern. The first phase culminated in May 2014 with a final report outlining six recommendations.

Jonathan Bailey | NIH

Every day, LaDonna Haley talks to patients who can’t find a psychiatrist or counselor who takes new clients in the St. Louis area. She estimates that 10 percent of those callers live in a rural county.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Monsanto lined up its experts for a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, to challenge last week’s determination by a World Health Organization committee that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer could be dangerous to people with frequent exposure. 

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Hospitals are pushing for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Physicians say it’s crucial. And yet, lawmakers in favor of expansion have been unable to offer a proposal that the legislature’s Republican majority will accept. 

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri regulators approved his proposal Monday, St. Louis developer Paul McKee got one step closer to realizing his $6.8-million dollar project to build an urgent care center in north St. Louis. It's a start but won't fully address the area's needs, health experts say.

Judy Clifford, far left, Nancy Albus, Laura Huff and David Bachman talk to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh about eating disorders on Feb. 19, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Several sterotypes are associated with eating disorders. Among them, that the disease only affects teenage women.

Nancy Albus, CEO of Castlewood Treatment Center, told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday that her facility is seeing more and more men. Because only about one in 10 people affected by an eating disorder seek treatment, there are probably a lot more men (and women) who need treatment, she said.

And it’s not just teens: Eating disorders can manifest at any age, said Laura Huff, director of the St. Louis Behavioral Health Medicine Institute.

Dr. Ken Haller talks about vaccination safety with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

The measles vaccine is safe and effective, pediatrician Ken Haller said; there’s no reason not to get it.

“This virus is very tenacious,” Haller told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “If someone with measles walks into a room and even just breathes, it can stay in the air for two hours. Anyone coming into that room who’s susceptible has a 90 percent chance of getting sick from it.”

Harris-Stowe University is offering free HIV testing, education and entertainment on Saturday, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The St. Louis Department of Health reports the HIV rate was nearly five times higher in St. Louis’ black community than in the white community in 2012. Increasing HIV testing can reduce the rate of HIV infection. On Saturday, Turn Up for Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will offer free HIV testing, health screenings and performances.

Rosmary via Flickr

Missourians are getting older, but their access to health care is not keeping up.

In October, a Missouri Foundation for Health report found a need for more geriatric specialists in the state. In 2011, Missouri had 139 geriatric doctors. The report predicted that the state would need 558 by 2030.

Performers at the Missouri History Museum's quest to set the record for most people tested for HIV in one venue
Alex Detrick | Missouri History Museum

On this Worlds AIDS Day, the Missouri History Museum is trying to break the world record for most people tested for HIV in one venue. Yet, Director of Community Partnerships Alex Detrick, 37, said she knows testing people is more important than setting records.

“If people can have a positive experience today and say, ‘You know what? It really wasn’t that hard, that scary, that intimidating.’ That would be exciting!” said Detrick.

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.

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?

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

Officials from Washington University, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the March of Dimes announced Monday they will launch a new March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis.

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. 

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.

A graphic included in the For The Sake of All report shows the economic divide along Delmar Blvd in St. Louis.
For the Sake of All

The numbers tell the story: unemployment among African Americans in St. Louis is 17.6 percent, four times that of whites.

And the unemployment rate is important because unemployment turns out to be a major factor in severe health disparities in the region, according to research by the “For the Sake of All” study.

Dr. Farouk / Flickr Creative Commons

A relatively rare virus strain that can cause respiratory problems in children has been confirmed in St. Louis. It has sent dozens to pediatric intensive care units in Kansas City and Chicago.

Late last week, St. Louis Children’s Hospital ran in-house tests and confirmed Enterovirus-68, or EV-D68, in a small sample of three patients who had been admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit.

St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness president Lisa Sienkiewicz stands next to the Kiener Fountain in downtown St. Louis, which has been dyed teal in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

To kick off National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, local organizers dyed the water in the Kiener Plaza Fountain in downtown St. Louis teal -- the trademark color of the awareness campaign.

Sometimes called the ‘silent killer,’ ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognize before it’s in an advanced stage.

The rate of survival is low: 20,593 American women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. 14,346 women died, according to the Center for Disease Control. But treatments are most effective when the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages.

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