Health Disparities | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Disparities

Lois Jackson, who lives in the Villa Lago housing complex in Spanish Lake, sits outside her apartment. Public housing residents have recently been banned from smoking inside their homes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

James Parker has been smoking for more than six decades. But to keep his habit, he's had to make changes. Every time he smokes, he has to go outside his home in the Badenfest apartment complex on North Broadway in St. Louis.

Parker is one of the hundreds of smokers in St. Louis who can no longer light up in their homes. Residents and housing agencies are adjusting to a new rule from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development which bars residents from smoking within 25 feet of their apartments. Residents and housing advocates have criticized the policy and are worried it will result in more evictions.

Michael Guthrie signs up for an appointment at the mobile health clinic.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it’s giving nearly $3 million to 29 community health centers in Missouri. The money is awarded based on how effectively and efficiently the centers provide services to their patients.

Federally qualified community health centers are one part of the government-supported health safety net for low-income individuals in medically underserved areas. The federal government requires them to offer services on a sliding pay scale and serve people regardless of whether they have insurance or not.

Stephanie Schuermann, center, sets up a future appointment at the People’s Health Centers mobile clinic at the Forest Park-Debaliviere metro stop.  June 5, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A mobile health unit will be making weekly stops at select Metro Transit stations to provide screenings, insurance help and other health care needs.

The People’s Health Centers, a community health clinic, operates the van, which made its first stop on Tuesday. It’s scheduled to rotate between Grand, Forest Park-Debaliviere, Civic Center and Riverview Transit stations. The city health department and Metro Transit will provide assistance to help operate and staff it.

Dr. Lannis Hall, right, looks at scans before meeting with patients at a Siteman Cancer Center satellite site in St. Peters. May 31, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For years, clinical trials were focused in academic medical centers such as the one below oncologist John DiPersio’s office at Siteman Cancer Center, high above the Washington University medical campus in the Central West End. Historically, most participants in clinical trials have been white men.

To help increase diversity in its cancer studies, Siteman bringing the science to people’s neighborhoods, with smaller centers in traditionally underserved areas, far away from the big medical campus. It most recently started clinical trials at its newest location in north St. Louis County, 12 miles north of the Central West End.

Saint Louis University Hospital had the highest rates of heart failure patients with complications in the St. Louis region.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Patients with heart failure who are discharged from the hospital are more likely to have other health problems and complications if they live in Missouri's largest cities, according to a study by the health research company Dexur.

Complications are usually seen as a way to gauge a population's overall well-being. Experts say the heart failure data indicates urban populations have more untreated health problems than other areas of the state.

First-year Washington University medical school students board a school bus after a stop on a trip around St. Louis in August.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Every year, for the past 15 years, first year students at Washington University’s School of Medicine have climbed on board three yellow school buses and headed north. They take a route that passes through the city’s poorest neighborhoods, in a bid to introduce medical students to the lives of their future patients.

It’s a trip the school hopes will make them better doctors.

Ella Jones, left, and Diane Stevenson hug goodbye after a meeting. Their group, which is run by The Breakfast Club, offers support and friendship to women diagnosed with breast cancer. (June 13, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A new friend was scheduled for a mastectomy, but was now determined to get out of bed and cancel the surgery. So Ella Jones’ mothering instincts kicked in.

“I went over to the bed, and I rubbed her and talked to her, and explained in general terms what was going to happen,” said Jones, 71. “If she had gotten up out of that bed and left, she would have never done any treatment.”

Jones, a nine-year breast cancer survivor, is one of several women who coach others through their treatment in St. Louis. The program is run by The Breakfast Club, a local nonprofit that supports African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Montrelle Day of the East St. Louis health outreach organization WPT talks with othet attendees at the St. Louis forum on Aug. 20, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The fight to reduce the disproportionate rate of HIV infections among young black men can come down to two solutions: reducing stigma and improving sex education. Those were the issues discussed at a forum in St. Louis over the weekend.

A 2014 documentary called “deepsouth” sparked a lot of the conversation among the public health care providers and HIV advocates who attended the forum.

Virginia Commonwealth University mapped severe health disparities in north St. Louis County by comparing census tract-level data for life expectancy.
provided by Virginia Commonwealth University

People who live in different parts of north St. Louis County may have a 12-year difference in how long they can expect to live, according to an analysis of census tracts by Virginia Commonwealth University.

The school’s Center on Society and Health has released two dozen maps of life expectancy gaps in selected metro areas over the past three years. The findings in St. Louis closely mirror the results of the For the Sake of All study in 2014, which used zip code-level data to reach its conclusions.

A file photo of North City Urgent Care, at 6113 Ridge Avenue in north St. Louis City.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Violence in north St. Louis is prompting one of the few urgent care clinics in the area to close on the weekends.

A gun battle outside the doors of North City Urgent Care on a Saturday last month was the last straw, said Dr. Sonny Sagar, its medical director. The clinic, at 6113 Ridge Ave., sits in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood and is one of just a few urgent care facilities in the area.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)

The Archdiocese of St. Louis has named a director for its re-established Peace and Justice Commission, also known as the human rights commission. Marie Kenyon will lead the group, which will address rights issues throughout the 11 counties that make up the Archdiocese of St. Louis. As director, Kenyon will build a commission that will address racial tensions, poverty and education access.

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.  

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2013 - 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.

Missouri Couny-Level Report, 2011 Comparative risk factors and chronic diseases and conditions
Report

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Eduardo Crespi says he puts in long hours promoting healthy habits among blacks and Latinos in the Columbia and Joplin regions of Missouri. Poli Rijos does the same in the St. Louis area. But the two and others like them still have plenty of work to do, judging from findings in two statewide reports from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 15, 2012 - When she was Missouri's maternal child health epidemiologist about a decade ago, Pamela Xaverius recalls being disturbed by the poor birth outcomes in parts of the state and feeling helpless because she could do nothing to improve the numbers.

"As a researcher, all you could do was write it up and put it in a journal where other researchers read it," she says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 13, 2011 - The American Diabetes Association and the American Lung Association have added their voices to groups concerned about the harm potential Medicaid cuts would have on chronically ill blacks and Latinos.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2011 - Sandy Johnson was devastated when she learned that a lump discovered on her right breast was cancerous. Fourteen years later, however, she's using her experience to encourage other women not to think of the disease as a death sentence.