Health Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Care

Fort Leonard Wood

Soldiers, their families and veterans near Fort Leonard Wood in the Ozarks will have a new place to receive medical care. 

Construction on a $400 million, 400,000-square-foot hospital and clinic officially started Monday.

The current General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital is 55 years old, past its intended service life. The building suffers from a leaky roof and utilities that struggle to keep pace with increasing demands. 

A voter fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters will get a chance to expand Medicaid.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced Friday that he approved the petition to put Medicaid expansion on the November ballot.

Backers submitted more than 340,000 petition signatures, well over the number needed to qualify for a proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment would expand Medicaid to people making 138% of the federal poverty level, which is a little less than $18,000 a year.

Respiratory therapist Melissa Delavara cares for COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Researchers at Washington University are launching a clinical trial of 30,000 health care workers to test if the drug chloroquine prevents COVID-19 infection.
Matt Miller | Washington University

Washington University researchers are launching an international study to test whether the drug chloroquine can prevent coronavirus infection.

Chloroquine and the closely related hydroxychloroquine have been used for decades for the prevention and treatment of malaria. But researchers are now examining whether the former might also be useful in the global fight against COVID-19. The collaborative team spanning four continents will enroll tens of thousands of health care workers in the clinical trial.

A construction worker paints one of two viewing rooms Friday, April 17, 2020, for families to grieve through a plexiglass window at an overflow morgue being built in Earth City.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small plexiglass window peeks from behind a curtain. 

Families will have 15 minutes to grieve through that window, looking at a loved one’s body sheathed in a barcoded body bag. Police chaplains will be at the ready to lead prayers or offer consoling words.

Construction workers under the orders of St. Louis County officials are hurriedly erecting a morgue in an industrial park warehouse, surrounded by UPS distribution facilities, in Earth City. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers interacting with a coronavirus patient wear a heavy-duty mask called an N95 respirator.
michael_swan | Flickr

At the St. Louis hospital where Emma Crocker works as a registered nurse, only employees working in areas with confirmed COVID-19 patients, like the emergency room and the ICU, were given N95 masks from the hospital’s collection. 

“The CDC, when they first came out, recommended the use of N95 masks for every health care worker, but we know that there’s a shortage — there’s a limited supply, which is actually what’s hindering us the most right now,” said Crocker.

N95 masks are in short supply across the country, and the hospital said they were conserving their supply.

Teams work on responding to COVID-19 at the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management in Ballwin on March 13, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical ethicists are trained to confront ethical questions in medicine, and the novel coronavirus raises quite a few.

For instance, in China and Italy, there have been reports of hospitals being forced to ration care for COVID-19 patients. This form of rationing care and prioritizing treatment is determined by a hospital’s crisis standards of care guidelines.

Anthony Brooks, third-year medical student at Washington University, calls a patient to tell them they have tested negative for COVID-19. Though most are not able to care directly for coronavirus patients, many med students are helping in other ways.
Bruin Pollard | Washington University

Cyrus Ghaznavi is supposed to be studying for his final exams — but like other students, he’s having trouble focusing in the midst of a global pandemic. 

“It feels so insignificant to be studying out of a textbook, when on the front lines, health care is basically evolving at a mile a minute,” said Ghaznavi, a medical student at Washington University. 

As the virus spreads rapidly through cities, many medical students have been pulled from their clinical rotations due to worries over possible exposure. While not able to care for COVID-19 patients, a growing number of med students in St. Louis are volunteering to help in other ways.

Tim McBride is a professor in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and is co-director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

The deadline to enroll in a health care plan via the Affordable Care Act marketplace is Dec. 15. Are plans more or less affordable than in previous years? What should people be aware of while searching for plans outside of the ACA marketplace?

Thursday on St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske put these questions to Timothy McBride of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to talking about the health and future of the ACA marketplace, McBride, the co-director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy, discussed what Medicaid expansion could look like in Missouri. Just last week, Gov. Mike Parson said he would expand the program if voters say that’s what they want. 

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University joins Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Much of the conversation about contemporary American health care revolves around money more than actual medicine. But given the crushing costs associated with seemingly every aspect of the industry, that focus isn’t so surprising.

As Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University notes in his newly published book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare — And How To Fix It,” one in five Americans currently has medical debt in collections.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Makary joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his research into why costs are skyrocketing — and what can be done to redesign the broken U.S. health care system.

Patricia Powers went a few years without health insurance and was unable to afford regular doctor visits. So the Missouri resident, who lives near St. Louis, had no idea that cancerous tumors were silently growing in both of her breasts.

Washington University's Mini-Medical School started in 1999.
Courtesy of Cynthia Wichelman

Since 1999, Washington University’s Mini-Medical School has taught students everything from the basics of a checkup to how to repair nerves via microscopic surgery.

There is no homework and there are no tests. These courses are offered simply to help foster a better understanding of the medical field, and anyone with an interest in learning can attend. In fact, students come from all walks of life. The course’s youngest students come from high school, and the oldest student attended class at 96 years old.

Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob is at risk of closing. The USDA is opposing its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Iron County Medical Center

Across the country, people who live in rural areas are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer than city dwellers, according to a new study published in the Journal of Rural Health.

Patients living in counties far from populated cities and suburbs were 1.23 times more likely to be diagnosed with non-curable, stage 4 colon cancer than people living in urban areas, according to the research. That’s despite rural residents having lower rates of developing the disease.

Treatment outcomes are also worse for rural patients, with various studies finding they have an 8% to 15% greater chance of dying from colon cancer.

Editor's Note on April 8, 2020: With the Democratic primary now down to one candidate, we're no longer updating the below graphic. But you can still see the stances of all candidates — past and present — below.


Health care helped propel Democrats to victory in a wave of elections in 2018, and it remains a top issue for voters heading into 2020.

In his hospital room at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville, patient Steven Glispie finishes signing the paperwork to enroll in Medicaid.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Proponents of a Medicaid expansion in Missouri want to allow voters to override the state's Republican leaders, who have refused to extend coverage to more people.

The Healthcare for Missouri coalition is collecting signatures on a petition that would place a Medicaid expansion on the November 2020 ballot. If approved by voters, Missouri would expand the health insurance program to those who earn up to $18,000 a year. Missouri is one of 14 states that has not made the program available to more low-income people.

Campaign organizers say the expansion is necessary to extend health care coverage to people who have jobs but lack health insurance.

Provided | Tarlton

A new building at St. Louis Community College will help the region address a shortage of nurses and other health care professionals. 

The college officially opened its new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences on Friday. The $39 million facility is the first new building on the Forest Park campus in 20 years. 

The four-level, 96,000-square-foot building includes simulation labs, classrooms, a teaching area, a dental clinic and a functioning operating room.

A construction workers examines a cast iron face piece on a window frame that is being removed as disassembly continues at the Clemens House in St. Louis on February 14, 2018. The Clemens house, which burned in July, was once owned by James Clemens, a rel
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

For the fourth year in a row, St. Louis businesses say their biggest barrier to expanding employment is a lack of skilled workers. That’s according to St. Louis Community College’s annual State of the St. Louis Workforce report released Wednesday. 

The new report, which surveyed over a thousand local employers, found that 1 in 3 is still having a hard time finding skilled workers. 

Missouri workers providing care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make less than a Walmart or Target worker, even after a pay increase that went into effect last month. 

The low pay is the main reason about half of Missouri workers quit each year, according to Missouri Developmental Disabilities Division Director Val Huhn.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Meusch, who farms 240 acres just outside Rolla, didn’t have health insurance for seven years until he recently got another job.

“We signed up for a plan under the Affordable Care Act right when it was passed. But two years later, we couldn’t afford the premiums,” Meusch said, speaking to U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, on the porch of his home last week.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2009 - Gov. Jay Nixon struck a bipartisan tone in his first state-of-the-state address Tuesday night, promising to balance the budget, boost Missouri's sluggish economy, and make some investments in social programs that were part of his campaign promises.

In his speech, Nixon did single out some spending priorities. They included familiar themes from his campaign: early childhood education, job retraining programs and health coverage for the uninsured.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 7, 2009 - As the debate over health care heats up, the Beacon asked area members of the House and Senate where they stand at this time. Specifically, the Beacon asked:

Susan Benigas (at left) and Ghaida Awwad talked about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There is a movement growing among health advocates to better understand how more nutritious food can help combat chronic illnesses and pharmaceutical drug dependency. Susan Benigas of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and The Plantrician Project and local nutritionist Ghaida Awwad of Nature’s Clinic, based in O’Fallon, Missouri, are among those advocates.

Guest host Ruth Ezell of the Nine Network talked with Benigas and Awwad about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Health care advocates in Kansas and Missouri are hopeful that 2019 will be the year that hundreds of thousands of people can get health care coverage through expansion of Medicaid.

It’s been blocked in both states by Republicans who question the price tag, but now that many states have had expanded Medicaid for several years, there’s a small but growing body of evidence about its actual costs.

Jennifer Ludden | NPR

Controversial changes to Missouri's home health-services program by former Gov. Eric Greitens and the Republican-controlled legislature saved one fourth of the $43 million lawmakers had expected, according a state audit.

The Republican governor and state lawmakers didn’t take rising costs and sicker patients into account, concluded the report from State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat. 

The mobile clinic will start in Washington and Franklin counties in December 2018.
St. Louis Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is partnering with Rural Parish Workers and Catholic Charities of St. Louis to open a mobile clinic so people who are uninsured can have access to free primary care services.

After two years of planning, the three organizations hope to have the clinic running in December.

Working with a team of volunteers, Sister Marie Paul Lockerd, is a primary care physican  who  Archbishop Robert Carlson asked to establish the clinic. And she will  will serve as the primary physician for the clinic. There will be one other primary care doctor and nine nurses.

Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley campaign in the St. Louis region on Oct. 29, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

As Missouri’s nationally-watched Senate race enters the final few days, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Josh Hawley focused Monday on their core campaign messages as they stumped in St. Louis.

For Hawley, it was voting for President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. And for McCaskill, it was protecting key health care benefits in the Affordable Care Act.

Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson listens to representatives speak on the last day of the legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson will leave the Statehouse to oversee management of the state’s low-income health-insurance program.

Gov. Mike Parson on Monday appointed Richardson, 41, director of MO HealthNet. The appointment will take effect Nov. 1, about two months before Richardson's term in the House was to end.

Dr. Sandeep Jauhar is the author of the new book 'Heart: A History.'
ALEX HEUER | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

This segment aired Oct. 15, but an online version of this story was first posted Sept. 27.

The heart has symbolized human emotion and affection since ancient times. Philosophers of the past considered the heart the “seat of the soul,” believing it to be, not only a life-sustaining organ, but also a representation of our internal lives.

Attendees receive informational materials at the 2017 community health fair, organized by 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis

The organization 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis will host its 16th annual community health fair this weekend.

The event, held at Harris-Stowe State University, will feature a range of free health screenings for all ages, including blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing and vision tests. Organizers say the goal is to encourage community members to think more about their own health and wellness.

Boxes are piled high in Anne Hickman’s hallway. Family photos peek out from behind the stacks in her one-bedroom Indianapolis apartment.

healp wanted ads in newspaper
photo credit|Innov8social, Flickr, Creative Commons

Job skills are the focus of the 2018 State of the St. Louis Workforce study published Wednesday by the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College.

This year’s report is titled “Help Wanted: A Skilled Workforce. Addressing the Workforce Needs of the St. Louis Economy.

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