Bram Sable-Smith

Health Reporter

A curious Columbia, Mo. native, Bram Sable-Smith has documented mbira musicians in Zimbabwe, mining protests in Chile, and the St. Louis airport's tumultuous relationship with the Chinese cargo business. His reporting from Ferguson, Mo. was part of a KBIA documentary honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and winner of a national Edward R. Murrow Award. He comes to KBIA most recently from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.

Ways to Connect

Journal of Mental Pathology

There’s big change on the horizon for the public mental health safety net. The Excellence in Mental Health Act is being called the "biggest federal investment in mental health and addiction services in generations."

To discuss the changes, and to learn how Missouri’s mental health system has fared since federal funding was rolled back for Community Mental Health Centers, KBIA sat down with Brent McGinty, President and CEO of the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

The University of Missouri Board of Curators has announced that Mike Middleton, an MU deputy chancellor emeritus, will be the interim president for the UM System. 

Middleton replaces Tim Wolfe as UM System President, after Wolfe resigned his position on Monday following calls from students for his resignation and a football team strike. 

Middleton says he hopes he can help the system move forward.

Nodaway County Sheriff's Office

Police this morning at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo. apprehended a university student at his residence hall, the university said today

University of Missouri Director of Greek Life Janna Basler has been "placed on administrative leave and relieved of her duties as Director of Greek Life while conduct an investigation regarding her recent actions," according to a statement by Department of Student Life Director Mark Lucas.

Basler was seen in a video that surfaced Monday of a confrontation between demonstrators  and Mizzou photojournalism student Tim Tai following the resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe. 

A Conversation with Tim Tai

Nov 11, 2015
Derek Poore / Missouri School of Journalism

On Monday, University of Missouri photojournalism student Tim Tai made international headlines as a video depicting a confrontation between him and demonstrators on the University of Missouri campus went viral. On Wednesday, Tai sat down with KBIA's Bram Sable-Smith to discuss the experience. 

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

Yesterday was a big news day in our City, and surely, you already know about the high profile resignations at the University of Missouri: both the UM system President and MU Chancellor are out.

At this point, it’s likely you’ve also heard that most of the demonstrators who catalyzed those resignations did not want to talk to the press.


Missouri psychiatrist Joe Parks remembers working with a patient named Victoria.

For eight years he helped her with PTSD, manic depression and addiction, getting her into drug treatment, and back into school. And then, she died of a blood clot brought on by her poor physical health.

“Her behavioral health treatment had been a complete success,” Dr. Parks recalls. “She was stable, she wasn’t psychotic, she was clean and sober. But she was dead.”

When 85-year-old retired farmworker and grandmother Amparo Mejia needed surgery on her spine because of a rare form of tuberculosis, she was able to pay for the procedure through emergency Medicaid. She was lucky. For many low-income immigrants – even those authorized to work in the US – it can be challenging or outright impossible to get health insurance. 

Missouri State Highway Patrol

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says one of its troopers has died in a crash in northeast Missouri.

Trooper James M. Bava, 25, died when his vehicle crashed on Missouri Route FF in rural Audrain County. 

Cpl. Scott White says it's unclear how the accident happened. He says the trooper was following a motorcycle before the crash. His patrol vehicle was found after he did not respond to radio calls.

The motorcycle has not been found.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

More than 1,700 people waited in line for hours to get free dental care at a clinic in Columbia, Mo. this month. The turnout for this clinic, called the Missouri Mission of Mercy, reveals a hidden crisis: the expense of dental care and lack of access are major obstacles for many throughout the state and the country.

Throughout the event, held July 31st - August 1st, a team of reporters from the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk spoke to the patients receiving treatment at the event, and the volunteers who made it all possible.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

One Saturday afternoon at a backyard cookout, St. Louis architect Dan Rosenberg enjoyed a cheeseburger – a food he’d enjoyed many times before.

That night, a couple hours after he went to sleep, he woke up with a searing pain in his stomach.

“Let’s be clear here,” Rosenberg says, “this was like a nine on the ten-scale.”

Missouri cattle farmer Greg Fleshman became so concerned about keeping his local hospital open that in 2011 he joined its governing board.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

When Darvin Bentlage needed colon surgery in 2007, he had an expensive stay at the hospital.

“The room alone for a week was $25,000,” Bentlage says. Add in the cost of the procedure and, “it added up to about $60,000 or $70,000.”

Ted Eytan / flickr

The Affordable Care Act won another major legal victory today. In a 6 to 3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a challenge to the law that would have eliminated subsidies in 34 states, including Missouri, for those buying health insurance through the federal marketplace.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

When cattle farmer Greg Fleshman joined the board of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in rural northern Missouri in 2011, the hospital was on the brink of closing.

“Things we just falling apart financially and the morale of the employees. And it just seemed to get worse and worse,” he recalls. “Those were the darkest days.”

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

Earlier this year, KBIA began a special reporting project highlighting the income and health disparities in the Missouri Bootheel. In May the project continued as KBIA traveled to the Bootheel town of Kennett, Mo., to host a community conversation.

The goal was to bring local residents and leaders to the same table to discuss difficulties in access to health care, the struggling rural economy and how to fix it. The following is an excerpt from that conversation. The full version may be found in an earlier post

Kristofor Husted/KBIA/Harvest Public Media

On May 20th, KBIA held a community conversation event in Kennett, Mo. The goal was to bring local residents and leaders of rural southeast Missouri to the same table to discuss difficulties in access to health care, the struggling rural economy and how to fix it. It's an event we called Health Barriers: Symptoms of a Rural Economy.

Several years ago, Missouri State Representative Holly Rehder’s daughter struggled with prescription drug abuse. “She had cut her thumb at work and went and got stitches and got a prescription,” Rehder recalls. When her prescription ran out she continued using the pain killers, says Rehder, “because they were so easy to obtain.”

Now, Rehder is sponsoring a bill to make it harder for addicts to obtain drugs in Missouri.