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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

As she held and examined leafy green vegetables at the new Save-A-Lot grocery store in Pagedale the other day, Coreen Davis didn't need to be reminded that she hasn't been able to walk into a new supermarket in that part of St. Louis County for 40 years.

Pagedale but for surrounding communities."

He added that it wasn't easy to make the store a reality. The process involved tax increment financing, the buyout of about 10 properties, and developing the project "in a way that the provider of the grocery store in this case can pay rent that makes economic sense."

Here are two interesting facts from a new "green economy'' report commissioned by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association:

 -- St. Louis has added 1,000 green jobs in the past two years, despite the recession.

 -- The number of green jobs in the region grew 54 percent between 1995 and 2008, while green job growth in California's Silicon Valley was 53 percent during the same time period.

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer may soon be helped by a discovery made in 1880 by Alexander Graham Bell.

St. Louis may have missed out this week on a share of Race to the Top stimulus funds to improve public education, but it is a big winner on the health-care front. The federal government announced Thursday that it was extending through 2014 an unusual program that has provided about $25 million a year for funding area community health centers.

The hot, unforgiving Missouri sun beats down on a lost man. Although just a few miles from home, the man does not know where he is and has no recollection of how he got to where he is. He stands, scared and confused, pondering how he lost his way, but he still can't muster a single memory of his journey there.

As Haitians look back on the earthquake devastation that remains and look ahead to the hurricane season, they clearly see that a lot of work remains.

About 1.5 million Port au Prince residents (out of the country’s population of 8 million) still sleep in tented camps and spend part of each day standing in line for purified water. Coordination among aid organizations that have been in Haiti for a long time is going well, but that’s not the case with many of the organizations that first came in after the quake.

The Missouri Foundation for Health is one of only 11 groups nationally to win grants under a new federal initiative -- the Social Innovation Fund. The foundation got $2 million of the $50 million that the fund distributed Thursday. All recipients are charged with helping local communities develop better outcomes to persistent problems confronting the poor, ranging from struggling with financial issues to coping with AIDS.

On Feb. 21, 2010, The New York Times published an article by Gardiner Harris titled "Diabetes Drug Harms Heart, U.S. Concludes."  Rosiglitazone, a product of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is sold under the brand name Avandia. Studies have indicated it could be responsible for about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure a month.

Dr. Pat Wolff at a clinic.
Provided by Washington University

Six months after Haiti's devastating earthquake, some Haitian institutions are planning for a "new normal."

The tragedy in Haiti has steeled the determination of several seasoned St. Louis volunteers to educate, mentor and help more Haitians become self-sustaining. Haitians must serve their own people and run their own hospitals, schools and society, they said in interviews this week.

Expansions are planned in Haiti for two St. Louis-founded institutions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Health professionals in St. Louis are paying closer attention to the sexual health of girls in foster care because data show that about half of them become pregnant or give birth while they are still teens, according to Dr. Katie Plax, a specialist in adolescent medicine at Washington University.

Homer G. Phillips Hospital closed in 1979, but has been renovated and reopened as a senior living facility.
Onegentlemanofverona | Creative Commons

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dr. Jerome Williams Sr. still feels an emotional lift when he thinks about a Monday morning 72 years ago. In 1937, he had gathered with other Boy Scouts on the city's north side that morning. Standing erect, he waited to take his place in line for a parade; and in spite of the cold of a day in late February, he was moved by the sight of hundreds of people -- doctors and lawyers, teachers and preachers, dignitaries and ordinary people -- gathering in the vicinity of Whittier Street and Kennerly Avenue.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When it comes to health-care rationing, the discussions can be anything but rational.

In the current highly charged atmosphere over changes in health care, "rationing" is one of the hottest buttons around. Yet any debate over how medical resources can be used most wisely inevitably reaches the fact that because demand outstrips supply, patients can't ever get everything they want, so some form of allocation is needed. That's what rationing is all about.

Matt and Tom Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

In high school, Matthew Smith busied himself designing websites, taking photos and making pottery. His younger brother, Tom, played trombone in the school jazz band, worked on his Eagle Scout badge and concentrated on honors classes in math, physics and geometry.

Like most teenagers preoccupied with their own pursuits, they didn't really notice anything unusual about their dad. But their friends did.

"They'd say, 'Your dad doesn't have any hair on his legs. Your dad's hair is really long'," said Matthew, 23.

Michelle and Debbie Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Growing up with three brothers in a cramped house just outside Chicago, Michelle Smith delighted in the rare chance to slip into her mother's bra and black wig. As her heart pounded, her excitement was tempered only by the terror of being discovered. Had she been caught, Michelle feared her mother would not be amused by a 6-year-old's attempt to imitate mommy.

That's because Michelle was being raised as a son.

canoe on Ozark stream. 2008. 300 pixels.
Eminence, Mo.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 17, 2008 -  A recent weekend at a vacation house on the Current River with spouse and friends was a singular treat. The weekend was enlivened by a kayak float along the Jacks Fork, an iconic Ozark float stream complete with limestone bluffs hundreds of feet high, numerous caves and springs.

Iraq War vet celebrates progress over PTSD

Aug 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 15, 2008 - For Iraq War veteran Brad Seitz, the color purple symbolizes five years of life after near-death.

Purple balloons will direct guests to a party this weekend noting the fifth anniversary of the day he earned a Purple Heart in service to his country. He will hang out with family and friends at the bowling alley in the recreation center of the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center. Refreshments will include a Purple Heart cake, compliments of the VA.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - When Dr. Elbert P. Trulock started practicing 25 years ago, a diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension was basically a death sentence.

Physicians had little knowledge about the disease, which causes runaway high-blood pressure in arteries of the lungs, labored breathing, lung damage and reduced blood-pumping ability of the heart.

Volunteers pack up meals to be delivered to seniors at the Carondelet Senior Center in south St. Louis. 2008. 200 pixels
Amelia Flood | St. Louis Beacon archive

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 13, 2008 - They call them "meal holidays" or "dark days."

As costs have risen faster than funding, some social service agencies are facing tough decisions about providing meals for the senior citizens who rely on them. Others are looking for ways to keep afloat as demands for help multiply faster than the dollars coming into their coffers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - Excess Drinking Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Earth as seen from the moon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - One evening next week I am going to audition for a part in St. Louis Shakespeare's upcoming production of War of the Worlds (Don't ask me why a Shakespeare company is putting on a play based on a radio drama by H.G. Wells!), in which invaders from Mars attack Earth. With this sort of prospect buzzing in the back of my mind, I cannot help but note a lot of stories about Mars in the news lately.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - Psychiatrists are engaging in less psychotherapy than they once did and may be more likely to specialize in drug therapy, according to a report in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The trend may be explained by several factors including financial incentives to focus on other aspects of care, fewer psychiatrists being trained in -- or specializing in -- psychotherapy, and the wider range of medications now available to clinicians.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - Hospital errors affect all of us: patients or not. One of the first steps in dealing with and reducing the number of errors in hospitals is getting the staff to report them. Often, fear of punishment drives this information underground; but it is imperative that hospitals find ways to get their staff members to not only report mistakes, but to also learn from them.

Any doctors in the house?

Aug 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - When Miriam Raskin decided to change primary care doctors a few years ago, she never dreamed she would have trouble finding a new one.

"They always say, 'Ask your friends,'" she said. "All my friends went to doctors who couldn't take me."

Raskin didn't know it but she was up against a growing health issue facing Americans -- a shortage of primary care doctors, generalists who are supposed to be a patient's initial medical contact.

On Science: The war on AIDS is not going well

Aug 5, 2008
2008 beacon archive chart
George Johnson | Copyright Textwriter

This first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - This week the world's AIDS researchers held the 17th Annual AIDS Conference in Mexico City. The news is not good.

In the Doctor's Lounge - Diabetes, exercise, diet

Aug 5, 2008

This article was originally published in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - Diabetes-diet Link Examined in Trio of Studies

We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. One of a trio of studies on dietary links to diabetes published in the July 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine gives us yet another example of just how much. "Our findings highlight a potentially important public health message on the benefits of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables for the prevention of diabetes," wrote the authors.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 4, 2008 - Cassava. Sorghum. These plant names may be unfamiliar to most of us, but to nearly a billion people in the developing world cassava and sorghum are the food crops that stand between them and starvation.

In doctors, we trust

Aug 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 1, 2008 - The New York Times published an all too familiar story this week on the erosion of the doctor-patient relationship. The headline: "Doctor and Patient, Now at Odds." While the doctor-patient relationship is one of the most important components of our medical system, it appears that the old-fashioned notion of a "cradle-to-grave" family doctor is on the verge of extinction.

"Things have become strained overall," agreed Dr. Keith Starke, chairman of the department of internal medicine at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. "A lot has do with the complexities that doctors and patients alike are dealing with."

On Science: TV, murder and lessons learned

Jul 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - Television replaced radio as America's primary means of home entertainment in the 1950s, and in the half-century since many critics have complained that its great potential as an educational venue has never been fully realized. However, programs marketed as entertainment are sometimes surprisingly educational, none more than the CSI programs shown on the CBS network for the last few years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008- Tanning - 1 a: to convert (hide) into leather by treatment with an infusion of tannin-rich bark or other agent of similar effect b: to convert (protein) to leather or a similar substance 2: to make (skin) tan especially by exposure to the sun.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - Anesthetic Accidents More Common in Afternoon 

A shortage of anesthesiologists is leading to longer working hours and more fatigue among the docs, according to an article in the July issue of the AORN Journal. And further, "Anesthetic adverse events have been found to occur more frequently in surgical procedures performed after 4 p.m."