health

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 / 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 / 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 / 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.

Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis
courtesy of Barnes Jewish Hospital

A health industry report published Thursday suggests federal programs that tie hospital quality scores to Medicare reimbursements are giving St. Louis hospitals a reason to improve.

Seventeen St. Louis area hospitals received bonus payments this year from Medicare thanks to programs in the Affordable Care Act that reward hospitals for providing a high quality of care. At the same  time, 25 were penalized for low scores, high readmission rates or failing to improve between 2011 and 2012.

Flickr/Jeremy Noble

With the clear, warm weather of summer, more St. Louisans of all ages are taking to the streets and the sidewalks on foot and by bike. The city has plans in the works to make walking, biking and running easier, from Complete Streets to separated bike lanes.

“I think overall we have great facilities in St. Louis and there has been a lot of improvement in the five years that I’ve lived here,” said Aaron Hipp, assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. His research evaluates how built communities affect the activity and health of those who use them.

Courtesy: Panera Bread Co.

Artificial sweeteners have been controversial for decades. Several studies have attacked sweeteners, especially aspartame used in diet sodas.

In June, St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. announced it will eliminate artificial sweeteners, coloring and preservatives from its foods by 2016. Panera nutrition manager Katie Bengston said “taste is the driving factor.”

Bengston said Panera is evaluating everything, including the sodas it sells.

(Credit: Flickr/Free Grunge Texutres

Randa Herman of Marion, Ill., always knew something was wrong. Her menstrual period came late and wasn’t regular. She had extra hair growth where there wasn’t supposed to be any, and acne after adolescence.

Eventually, Herman discovered her troubles were caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and found her way to Dr. Valerie Ratts' office at Washington University’s School of Medicine.

For the Sake of All

If your skin isn’t black, why should you care about the health and well-being of African Americans in the St. Louis region?

That’s just one of the questions Washington University public health researcher Jason Purnell and his team set out to answer in a project called For the Sake of All.

Purnell, along with colleagues from Washington University and St. Louis University, assessed racial health disparities in the region and their larger impact over the course of 14 months.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

With this winter’s prolific snowfalls, slippery streets and biting cold aren’t the only dangers to be concerned about. According to cardiologist Andrew Kates, people should also think twice about shoveling snow if they aren’t accustomed to exercise. That’s because shoveling snow can cause heart attacks.

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

Fourth Brief: For the Sake of All

In the fourth policy brief from For the Sake of All, a collaborative, inter-disciplinary study on the health of African Americans in St. Louis and St. Louis County, researchers focused on the role segregation plays on health in the area. It is titled "Segregation: Divided Cities Lead to Differences in Health."

(via Flickr/Joshua Smith)

When Reggie Rideout's daughter Maya was born seven years ago, she weighed just 1 lb. 15 oz.

"I was aiming for a St. Patrick's baby and ended up with a Christmas baby," said Rideout. Her daughter was born at 27 weeks. “I was just so unprepared. And I’m a planner....All of a sudden, not only are you not pregnant anymore, but your baby is very sick.”

Despite Maya's tough start, she is doing well now. "She's a first-grader. She's healthy and intelligent. You would never look at her and know she was born actually a little over three months early," said Rideout.

National Cancer Institute | Wikimedia Commons

First Brief: For the Sake of All

A disproportionate number of African Americans in St. Louis live in poverty and lack a high school education. African-American St. Louisans also have a higher death rate than white St. Louisans. According to a multi-disciplinary study currently under way in St. Louis, there is a connection between the two trends.

U.S. CDC Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, 2008-2011. *Represents statistically significant annual decrease or increase in obesity.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.  to adjust y-axis units on graph and to add second map.

It's not a big change, but it's at least in the right direction.

According to a new report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity among low-income preschoolers (ages 2-4) declined by at least one percentage point over the period from 2008 to 20011 in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

(University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute)

Is St. Charles County healthier than St. Louis City?

New data out from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute says "yes."

The study ranked all US counties, by state, based on different factors including tobacco use, diet and exercise, access to care, environmental quality and more.

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