Health Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Care

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.

Health Care: See Where The 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand

Sep 10, 2019

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.

But the conversation has changed over two years; while in the last midterms health care debates revolved around protecting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after GOP attempts to repeal it, presidential candidates ahead of 2020 are focusing more on overhauling the entire health care system.

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.

Siteman Cancer Center breaks ground for new facility in Florissant
provided | Siteman Cancer Center

Siteman Cancer Center broke ground Tuesday on its fifth outpatient site. The $26.3-million, 37,000-square-foot facility will be located on the Northwest HealthCare campus of Christian Hospital in Florissant.

“This is the best medicine coming right here to north county,” said Rick Stevens, the president of Christian Hospital. “This is money being put back in the community right here.”

The new facility is a joint project of BJC HealthCare — which owns and operates Christian Hospital — and Washington University School of Medicine. It is expected to open in late 2019.

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.

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.

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.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

A visitor to the new wing of the Mercy hospital in Festus can likely tell immediately where the old building ends and the new part begins. The atrium still smells of fresh paint, and instead of dark, winding hallways, windows let in natural light.

Builders designed it to be prettier and more user-friendly. But Mercy Hospital Jefferson is safer, too.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her best-known Republican rival, Josh Hawley, agree on one thing: health care — including its rising costs — is a top issue in their race this year.

And they accuse each other of misleading the public on the matter.

Take, for example, insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes or pregnancy.

Geneticist and lead Cancer Genome Atlas scientist Li Ding
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis reached a new milestone in cancer research this month with the completion of a comprehensive analysis of the molecular underpinnings of the causes of the disease.

The National Institutes of Health funded the PanCancer Atlas project, more than a decade in the making. Biologists from more than two dozen institutions analyzed DNA from 11,000 cancer patients with 33 major types of the disease, including breast and pancreatic cancer.

The analysis is part of a larger NIH initiative called the Cancer Genome Atlas.

Caitlyn Kalmer, 7, works on her model of the brain during the Little Medical School after-school program at Stanton Elementary School in Fenton.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Splinters and paper cuts? No. Broken bones? Yes, that’s more worthy of a trip to the hospital. So goes a first-aid lesson for a first-grader.

Treating bumps and scrapes is the first lesson of Little Medical School, a St. Louis County-based company that introduces young learners to health and science.

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