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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Granite City resident Jennifer Kostoff and her daughter. Kostoff was addicted to heroin when she was pregnant and was able to give birth to a healthy baby with help from the SSM Wish Center.
Chestnut Health Systems

Several St. Louis health centers will begin working next month to provide long-term residential treatment for expectant mothers in the Metro East who are addicted to opioids.

Many pregnant women who need treatment for substance abuse rely on Medicaid, a federal- and state-funded health insurance program for people who are low-income, disabled or elderly. But women in the Metro East aren't eligible to be treated at facilities in St. Louis that only accept Missouri Medicaid.

What are the latest advances in sleep research? On Thursday, "St. Louis on the Air" tackles the subject.
Jon Huss | Flickr

St. Louis researchers have found that people who suffer from a lack of sleep could increase their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Des Peres Hospital
Des Peres Hospital via Facebook

Chesterfield-based St. Luke's Hospital is buying Des Peres Hospital from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. for an undisclosed price.

The deal includes physician practices and other operations in St. Louis. It will strengthen the hospital's network and help patients, St. Luke's President and CEO Christine Candio said.  St. Luke's has 3,800 employees and will add 650 more with the acquisition.

"It was an opportunity for us, we felt strongly, to further grow our footprint and really expand our health ministry into communities where we do not have a strong presence," Candio said.

Charles hooting in a Bald Cyrpus tree in Forest Park.
Mark Glenshaw

Amateur naturalist Mark Glenshaw continues observing the owl community in Forest Park. He watches them close enough to recognize them, name them and conduct guided tours he refers to as “owl prowls.” He conducted 90 prowls just last year.

“Each year I keep breaking my own records, but 2017 was really special,” Glenshaw said. 

SSM Health is reviewing its security procedures after discovering that a former employee with its customer service call center inappropriately accessed patient medical records between Feb. 13 and Oct. 20, 2017.

Ciggfreeds is a St. Louis vape shop. In St. Louis and St. Louis County, you must be 21 or older to purchase tobacco products. (Dec. 27, 2017)
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

A year after St. Louis and St. Louis County passed legislation to raise the age of purchasing tobacco products to 21, teenagers are still possessing these products at a high rate. A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows that while the number of teenage tobacco users has declined, the number of teenagers who use electronic cigarettes is greater than those who use conventional cigarettes.

Randy Korotev , a research professor at Washington University, is a leading a count on New Year’s Day at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton. It’s one of about 20 happening in the state.
Randy Korotev

The National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count is in full swing, with more than 2,500 counts taking place worldwide. Since 1900, bird enthusiasts have been tracking and counting the status of bird species in the St. Louis region and around the world and during the winter holiday season.

This year, the count is taking place on Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. In Missouri, roughly 20 counts are being conducted, including one in St. Charles County.

Matt Palozola greets friends at a fundraiser for the Zola Initiative, a nonprofit he started in honor of his brother. Dec. 15, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tom Palozola arrived at Webster University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he struggled to fit in with his younger classmates. But he found solace in in the Student Veterans Organization.

As its president, Palozola worked tirelessly to acquire a grant to open a campus veterans center. He envisioned it as a refuge for veterans who also felt like campus outsiders.  

Palozola had suffered a traumatic brain injury when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide last May.

Cultures of bacterial strains belonging to researchers at Washington University that can turn toxic compounds into the precursors of biofuels
Washington University in St. Louis

In the near future, gasoline could be replaced by a fuel that uses bacteria instead of fossil fuels.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California-Berkeley are studying a species of bacteria that could be used to manufacture a renewable biofuel. The U.S. Department of Energy gave scientists $3.9 million to fund the research for three years. 

The Gender Workbook for Kids will be published in April.
Kelly Storck

Children who grapple with their gender identity often start asking questions in their toddler years.

They may demand parents call them "her" instead of "him," or insist they’re a boy after they were assigned female gender at birth.

These declarations make sense to St. Louis therapist Kelly Storck, who has worked with children and parents for 20 years.  But the topic of gender doesn’t always make sense to kids, or even the adults in their lives. That’s why Storck wrote her new book “The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are.”

Dr. Marva Robinson is a licensed clinical psychologist in St. Louis. Dec.2017
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

For many black school-age youth, mental health needs can fly under the radar. They can lead some parents, teachers and other adults to perceive it as kids “acting out.” St. Louis Public Radio’s Marissanne Lewis-Thompson spoke with Dr. Marva Robinson, a licensed clinical psychologist in St. Louis about what happens when mental health resources aren’t available in predominantly black schools.

Gerrie Gibson, left, has worked for Christian Care Home for 19 years.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Workers for a Ferguson nursing home are three weeks into a strike over claims of unfair labor practices. Now, they’re receiving letters from the administrator of the Christian Care Home, telling them they’re being replaced.

In a Dec. 19 letter, administrator Donna Cooper told workers they would have preferential hiring status when there are vacancies if they choose to return. That shocked union nurse Ruby  Crymes, who sits on the bargaining committee. 

“We feel like they’re playing games with our lives,” Crymes said. “We even offered to go back with no raise now, with something on the back end six months later and they didn’t even accept that.”

New Season spokesman Todd Eury stands outside the planned clinic in St. Charles.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

A locked storefront for an opioid treatment clinic in a St. Charles strip mall sits between a bar and a meeting space for Alcoholics Anonymous. A sign outside reads “New Season.” But the project is on hold, after objections from local residents. 

“We’re not against any of the opioid clinics, we’re against the location,” said Jim Meinhardt, the sales manager of a nearby computer store. “Usually these clinics are not right next to a neighborhood or a day care. Usually there’s some thought.”

When he heard about the plans, Meinhardt started gathering signatures for a petition asking the clinic, which would serve 350 patients, to choose another location.

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposal for tackling polluted runoff in Missouri's largest lakes.

But environmentalists say the EPA's plan, like the state's plan that was released in October, is not strong enough to address pollution. 

Missouri does not set limits for nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that can cause fish kills and create dead zones in excessive quantities. A Clean Water Act settlement last year with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment required the EPA to devise a rule to regulate nutrient pollution in Missouri's lakes by Dec. 15, unless the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed its own proposal by that date. The state failed to submit a plan by the deadline. 

St. Louis Public Radio reporters Durrie Bouscaren (left) and Eli Chen (right.)
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we did a year-in-review of the top health, science and environment stories of 2017. Joining host Don Marsh for the discussion was St. Louis Public Radio’s reporters Eli Chen and Durrie Bouscaren.

A sign outside the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery advertises Narcan, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Chad Sabora walked up to a worker in a social services office in south St. Louis County in 2011, with a desperate plea: Where does someone get addiction treatment if they’re uninsured?

“I took off my coat to show her my track marks, like — please, help me,” Sabora recalled. “She had no idea where to send me.”

Years after his recovery, Sabora heads an organization that seeks to connect people with opioid addictions to available treatment. The Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery now serves hundreds of people a year at its offices at 4022 S. Broadway St. in Dutchtown.

The entrance to the Illinois Veterans Home marks the year the long-term care facility first opened. It is the largest and oldest of four state-run veterans' homes.
Andrew Gill | WBEZ

Since the summer of 2015, a dozen people have died at a state operated veteran’s home in Quincy, Illinois from Legionnaires’ Disease – and dozens more sickened.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Chicago public radio station WBEZ reporters Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney about their investigation into the Legionnaires’ deaths at the Veteran's Home in Quincy, Illinois.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A report released Monday finds that two power plants in Arkansas are partly responsible for poor air quality in St. Louis. 

Scientists from California-based Sonoma Technologies Inc. analyzed nitrogen oxide emissions, a component of ozone pollution, detected by air monitors in the St. Louis region in 2011. Their measurements revealed that Entergy's Independence and White Bluffs plants, located about 210 and 300 miles southwest of St. Louis, contributed emissions well above the federal standard for several days that year. The Sierra Club commissioned the study.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

As Congress deliberates over whether to renew funding for children’s health insurance and community health centers, the delayed decision is forcing local agencies to make contingency plans.

The funding represents $3.4 million for the nonprofit Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers in St. Louis.

“For us, it’s a possibility that we would have to close one of our sites,” MHD spokeswoman Deneen Busby said. “It would be about 60 employees impacted.”

Peyton Manning, the NFL quarterback-turned-pitchman, apparently has another side hustle: Certifying shipments of grain as organic for a Nebraska-based agency called OneCert.

Problem is, OneCert president Sam Welsch doesn’t remember hiring Manning for his business, which is accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect everything from small vegetable farms to processing plants and international grain operations.