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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Former Homer G. Phillips physician Earle U. Robinson Jr. and his daughter, Rebecca Robinson-Williiams worked together to create a documentary about Robinson's time at the historic black-run hospital in the Ville.
Doug Jaggers | WFYI News

In the mid-20th century, St. Louis was home to one of the only hospitals where African-Americans could train as doctors. In segregated St. Louis, Homer G. Phillips Hospital was built to cater to the city’s black population, which was barred from the city’s white hospitals.

“This is a hospital that was all black. From the very lowest job to the medical director,” said Earle U. Robinson Jr., an OB-GYN who completed his internship and residency at the hospital from 1958 to 1963. “Since the hospitals in St. Louis were segregated, Homer G. Phillips was built for the black population.”

Wash U’s Adia Harvey Wingfield is the 2018 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Public Understanding of Sociology Award.
Sean Garcia

Race, gender, work and inequality form the core of sociologist Adia Harvey Wingfield’s research – and her latest study focuses on the intersection of those topics within the medical field.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, in conversation with St. Louis Public Radio contributor John Larson, the Washington University professor of sociology discussed her recent observations of the experiences of black workers in health care.

Michael Kinch is the author of “Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Human immunity – a field of study at the center of Michael Kinch’s career – is a dense subject. But in his new book “Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity,” Kinch aims to sift through the topic’s complexity and reach lay audiences.

“That was really the goal … there’s a lot of science, a lot of medicine that goes into it, but it’s very approachable,” the author said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. “The way we’re trying to do it is to say, ‘How would you talk about this with your grandmother?’”

Washington University announced a medical apprenticeship program, which will teach medical assistants to draw blood and do other clinical tasks.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University has announced it will begin hiring apprentices this fall to work as medical assistants in clinics in the St. Louis region.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job learning with more traditional instruction. The university’s announcement reflects the growing popularity of such programs in the health care industry.

Mourners gathered Sunday afternoon near Branson to pay tribute to the 17 people who lost their lives Thursday when the tourist boat they were riding encountered a severe storm and sank in Table Rock Lake.

The chapel at College of the Ozarks near Branson was full as civic and religious leaders expressed their grief and praised the community’s response.

Attendees visit an information table at the 2017 African Community Health Fair.
Progressive Emporium & Education Center

A group of St. Louis businesses and nonprofits are joining together Saturday to host the third annual African Community Health Fair.

The event, which promotes self-care and wellness for African-Americans, will offer a range of free health tests, including blood pressure, cholesterol, vision and podiatry screenings. Organizers say the fair provides a vital service, particularly for those who don’t have regular access to health care.

Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus have been found in St. Louis County for the first time this sumemer
(via Flickr/John Tann)

Health officials have detected the West Nile virus in mosquitoes found in St. Louis County.

The West Nile virus can potentially be deadly, but cases in humans are relatively rare. No Missouri residents have contracted the disease so far, this year, according to federal health data.

A deer tick, one of the most common ticks in the Midwest and the carrier of several diseases, such as Lyme Disease.
Pixabay

A small survey of St. Louis-area physicians found doctors greatly overestimate the prevalence of Lyme disease and underestimate the prevalence of other tick-borne illnesses in Missouri.

Scientists at the University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville sent a survey to 81 St. Louis-area infectious-disease specialists and family physicians. About a fifth of the doctors responded.

According to the results, published earlier this month in the journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, 82 percent of respondents believed Lyme disease was among the most common tick-borne infections in the state. But state health officials say there were only 10 probable or confirmed cases of Lyme in Missouri in 2016.

An active coal-ash pond at the Meramec Energy Center in St. Louis County in February 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has changed its regulations to give states more authority over how utilities should dispose and monitor pollution from toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants. Environmental advocates in Missouri and Illinois warn that the newly revised rule will not do enough to protect water quality and human health.

The amendments, approved Tuesday by acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, lowered standards for several chemicals, such as lead, that are found in coal-ash waste. It also extends the deadline for utilities to close its coal-ash ponds and allows state officials to oversee and stop groundwater monitoring at coal-ash waste sites.

When Cody Goodwin, of Independence, Missouri, was 24, he had already been hooked on opioids, including heroin, for years. His sister decided jail was the only way he could be cut off from drugs, so she reported him to the police.

Johnson & Johnson hit with $4.69 billion loss in baby powder-ovarian cancer case

Jul 13, 2018
Quentin Lueninghoener | Fairwarning

The legal assault on Johnson & Johnson and its signature baby powder reached new heights today, when a state court jury in Missouri found the company responsible for the ovarian cancers of 22 women, and ordered the drug and consumer products giant to pay $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the cancer victims or their survivors.

The verdict by the jury of six men and six women in St. Louis Circuit Court was by far the largest yet in the mushrooming baby powder litigation.

Left, Caryn Dugan and Dr. James Loomis discussed plant-based diets with host Don Marsh on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While in 2014 just 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan, in 2017, about 6 percent made that claim. With a 600 percent increase in just three years, and veg-friendly options becoming more commonplace in St. Louis, it is safe to say that this diet trend is not just a fad – it’s here to stay.

Insurance premiums for plans on healthcare.gov have become more expensive, but most people who buy exchange plans on healthcare.gov receive tax credits to help them offset costs. Those who don’t receive those credits bear the brunt of those higher prices.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The rising costs of insurance plans available through the federal healthcare.gov website may make them unaffordable for some people in Missouri and Illinois.

Premiums for exchange plans on healthcare.gov have become more expensive, but most people who buy exchange plans on healthcare.gov receive tax credits to help them offset the cost and are insulated from rising costs. But those who don’t receive those credits bear the brunt of those increased prices.

This 1980 scanning electron microscopic image depicts a cluster of spiral-shaped, Treponema pallidum bacteria, which causes syphilis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The rate of syphilis cases in St. Louis County increased 42 percent between 2016 and 2017, the largest increase in at least five years, according to data released by the county’s health department.

The county saw 202 cases of syphilis last year. That’s up from 142 the year before. Experts attribute the increase to people practicing unsafe sex and not knowing enough about symptoms or treatments for the disease.

Lee Ann Stuart still wears her nursing scrubs, even though the only work she’s been doing since Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center closed June 11 is to pack boxes of medical supplies to be hauled away.

“It’s strange walking those halls, and they’re empty and the lights are down,” Stuart says. She’s been a nurse at the hospital in rural Kennett, Missouri, for 22 years.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Soybean growers in the Midwest are caught in the middle of an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

China retaliated against the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese products Friday by imposing $34 billion in tariffs on hundreds of American goods, including soybeans. Analysts say the added expense of China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans will effectively block the product from entering the Chinese market.

Angie Wang | NPR

For breast cancer patients, race and geography can mean the difference between surviving and succumbing.

Washington University researchers have identified distinct hot spots in the U.S. where women are more likely to die from breast cancer. For African-American women and Latinas, these hot spots are predominantly clustered in specific regions across the southern U.S.

Tony Bartleson attemps to lure his dog, Murphy, into the water at Kerth Fountain in Forest Park on Thursday, July 5.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

The National Weather Service in St. Louis issued a heat advisory this week as temperatures soared into the upper 90s.

The hot weather puts vulnerable people at risk for heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition that happens when bodies can’t keep their temperature low. The old, young and chronically ill are most at risk for heat-related illness.

Zoo staff decided to bottle-feed the baby lemur after observing that her mother was unable to nurse her.
Ethan Riepl | St. Louis Zoo

A new, tiny resident will now greet visitors to the St. Louis Zoo Primate House.

Princess Buttercup, a female mongoose lemur, is the first of her species to be born and reared successfully at the zoo. The critically endangered lemur species, which is found only on Madagascar, is the focus of a national cooperative breeding program intended to build a healthy population in captivity.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha talked with Don Marsh about her book, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis Resistance and Hope in an American City” at the St. Louis County Library on June 28.
St. Louis

In 2014, the state of Michigan switched the city of Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. After the switch residents began complaining about the water but government officials claimed it was safe to drink.

Taking the government at its word, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at the city’s public hospital, continued to encourage parents and children to drink the water. However, the water wasn’t safe and it was contaminated with lead, something she discovered totally by accident.

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