Katie Hiler

Reporter/ Producer

Katie graduated from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program with a degree in science journalism. She was the senior producer for The Doppler Effect, WNYUs Science and Tech news show. Katie was an intern for The New York Times and produced the weekly Science Times podcast, and was also an intern with WNYCs The Takeaway. She has published both print and web pieces for The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Modern Farmer, and Scienceline.org

Ways To Connect

Katie Hiler / KBIA

This week the EPA will make a final decision on a proposed new rule for the disposal of coal combustion residuals, called CCRs, or coal ash.


Katie Hiler / KBIA

If you’ve ever lived in - or even visited - a small town, you know they can be pretty quaint. And Milan, Mo, population 1,881, is no exception.

Milan’s local hospital, Sullivan Country Memorial, has been around since 1953. Joe McCarty, a local resident and now patient in Sullivan’s long-term care unit, has lived in Milan almost his entire life – he’s turning 100 this year. Joe made his living as a cartoonist and up until just a few months ago he worked for the local newspaper.


Obesity is the number one public health issue in Missouri – it affects more than 30% of adults and nearly one in seven children between the ages of ten and seventeen.

This is the fifth story in a series from the Health & Wealth desk on Healthy Nevada. 

All this week we’ve been talking about the population health experiment that the health technology company Cerner is conducting in the town of Nevada, Missouri. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Will Cerner’s message and grassroots approach resonate with people in this rural community? Can small changes like new playground equipment and a community garden really have an impact on Nevada’s poor health rankings? And, more simply, will this program work?

To help forecast what may come from Cerner’s efforts in Nevada, I spoke with Dr. Keith Mueller, the Director of the Rural Policy Research Institute at the Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis. 

This is the fourth story in a series from the Health & Wealth desk on Healthy Nevada

The TV show “Parks and Recreation” chronicles civic life in the small fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Rural Pawnee is depicted with broad brushstrokes for comedic effect – ordinary town hall meetings frequently turn violent over small issues, soft drinks come in outrageously huge sizes, and a dedicated idealistic city hall employee named Leslie Knope will stop at nothing to help her community.

But in Nevada, Missouri, that parody of a rural town isn’t too far from the truth, right on down to that idealistic, dedicated civic leader.

This is the third story in a series from the Health & Wealth desk on Healthy Nevada

Dr. Kristi Crymes is a family medicine doctor at the Nevada Medical Clinic. Crymes came up from Springfield three years ago to work in Vernon County, which has some of the state’s poorest health rankings. In 2010 the obesity rate in Vernon County was 30 percent. The incidence of adult diabetes has hung around 11 percent for the past 3 years. 

This is the second story in a series from the Health & Wealth desk on Healthy Nevada

The town of Nevada, in southwest Missouri, is changing in very subtle ways. To see it you really need to know where to look. For example, Walton Park, on Atlantic Street, used to be one of the town’s less popular parks for kids – just a small slide, a merry-go-round, and two swings. But today Walton Park is where all the cool six-year-olds go, thanks to one new piece of playground equipment.  

This is the first story in a series from the Health & Wealth desk on Healthy Nevada

Pookie Decocq is the healthy living coordinator for the YMCA in Nevada, Missouri. She’s also the town’s official Pickleball Ambassador, which is a team sport played with two wooden paddles, a whiffleball and a low net, like ping pong or badminton.

Pookie’s dream is to hold a pickleball tournament here in this rural town in southwest Missouri. But the average Nevada resident isn’t exactly the picture of health. Like a lot of small rural towns in the state, Nevada has very high rates of obesity and heart disease. Its diabetes rates are some of the highest in the country at 11 percent.

Billion dollar day care

Aug 27, 2014
Nori / Flickr

    

Zsanay Duran lives at the end of a cul-de-sac in her neighborhood in Springfield, Mo. Inside her house looks less like a home and more like a daycare center.

Duran began providing unlicensed home daycare sort of by accident. Last fall when she was looking for work for her teenage son, she came across a posting on craigslist from a mother who was desperate for childcare. The woman had an 8 month old baby and worked the 5am shift at a local fast-food chain. She could only afford $12 a day for childcare. Duran said her story really hit home.

“I was a single mom and I needed help in order to get on my feet and that’s why someone did for me,” Duran said. “And if I can help someone else get on their feet, why not?”

Austin Federa / KBIA

As demonstrations continue in Ferguson Missouri in response to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, youth in the community are grappling with what is happening in their community. A team of KBIA reporters on Thursday went to the apartment complex where Brown was shot five days earlier to have conversations with young people about the past and future of their town.

woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Missouri is headed to the polls this week to vote for, among other things, a ¾ cent sales tax increase that would be used to fund Missouri’s Department of Transportation, or MoDot. Missouri citizens have the special privilege of deciding whether to bankroll a decade of transportation projects, thanks to former Missouri congressman Mel Hancock.

Hancock grew up in Springfield, Mo and before being elected to the U.S House of Representatives in 1989, he forever changed Missouri’s tax code with something called “The Hancock Amendment.” The amendment limits the power of the state legislature to raise taxes on its own, only allowing for small, inconsequential bumps. Voters have to approve bigger tax increases in an election, like the one Missouri is having this week.

KBIA

On this week's Intersection, we are talking with board members from Health Literacy Missouri about how to talk to your doctor.  

 

Have you ever left a doctor’s office with more questions than answers? Don’t let that happen again. 

Join us Thursday, July 24th for an evening of conversation with health literacy experts Dr. Steve Pu and Dr. Ingrid Taylor of Health Literacy Missouri. Come take part in a live taping of KBIA’s local talk show Intersection, hosted by Ryan Famuliner.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt continued his tour of mental health facilities in the state on Thursday with a stop at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia. 

Blunt spoke with Veterans Affairs administrators about how to better assist veterans experiencing a mental health crisis who need treatment immediately. Blunt says he is encouraged by the efforts the hospital has made to shorten waitlist times but says there are also many ways it can still improve.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) spoke at the Veterans War Memorial on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia on Friday, where she announced the most recent results of her Veterans Customer Satisfaction Program, an unscientific, confidential survey of veteran’s experiences at VA facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia. 

Rural Assistance Center

    

Rural hospitals play a vital role in delivering quick emergent care to people in some of the more isolated areas of the country. These institutions provide 24/7 emergency services to rural communities where the next closest hospital could be 35 miles away or more. But because they often serve so few people, it’s hard for them to be financially successful. So the federal government set up the critical access hospital program, whereby hospitals meeting certain criteria would receive Medicare refunds at 101 percent of reasonable costs.  

Since the program began in 1997, 1,331 hospitals have been given critical access hospital status, 35 of which are in Missouri. But policy makers are beginning to question whether that’s too many for the government to handle financially.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

  Note: A portion of this story was aired as part of the Health & Wealth Update for 5/14/2014

When I think about adult dental care in Missouri, I think of Ben Affleck. In the movie Argo, CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, pitches his plan to extract six American hostages from Iran by pretending to be on a Hollywood scouting trip. The CIA director doesn’t think it’ll work and wants to look for a better option. That’s when Mendez says:

“There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”

That’s what it’s like for Missourians who can’t afford private dental insurance. Back in 2005 Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Back in 2005, Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Walmart / Flickr

Summer is coming, and Missourians are hitting the open road, which, after a brutal winter, has taken quite a beating. The Missouri Department of Transportation is looking into making Missouri roads safer, not just by filling in potholes but also widening shoulders on rural roads and expanding Interstate 70 from two lanes to three. That sounds expensive, but the Missouri state legislature has a plan for drumming up close to $800 million a year over the next ten years for Department of Transportation projects – a one percent increase in sales and use tax.

MU Extension Center

On April 24, the family resource organization Parentlink will hold a special conference in Jefferson City for Grandparents raising grandchildren in the state of Missouri. The free event will provide Seniors with resources, practical information as well as support to help them meet the significant financial and legal challenges they face. But events like this one happen only occasionally - more sustained outreach programs for these Grandparents are harder to find. Diana Milne runs the "Northland Grandfamilies" program, part of the MU Extension Center. It's the only program specifically targeting grandparents and aunts and uncles who are raising children in the greater Kansas City area.

Conor Lawless / Flickr

The Missouri House of Representatives has proposed adding $48 million in federal and state funds to next year’s Medicaid budget to cover adult dental care. Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to the additional $48 million, but with some caveats. The money would only be used to pay for preventative dental care, like maintenance and extraction procedures. Part of the $48 million would also go towards paying dentists more for these procedures. Currently, the state only reimburses dentists up to 35 percent of usual and customary costs.

Gaijin Biker / Flickr

    

The Silver Haired Legislature is an elected body of Missouri senior citizens who advocate for legislation that addresses the concerns of older adults, like pay day loan restrictions and elder abuse. But recently they’ve thrown their support behind a unique issue – children in the care of grandparents, and the complicated process of obtaining legal guardianship in the state of Missouri.  

Lois Fitzpatrick is a 76-year-old woman who lives in Clay County. In 2001, Fitzpatrick and her husband agreed to be the legal guardians of their granddaughter - the child’s mother, Fitzpatrick’s daughter, was in favor of it. According to Fitzpatrick, to obtain uncontested legal guardianship at that time you had to fill out an application, get the parents signatures notarized, and pay a $25 filing fee. The county clerk’s office would then set a date for you to stand in front of the judge. It was simple, she said. A few years later, it wasn’t.

Anderson Mancini / Flickr

While the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have been the topics du jour in recent weeks, one of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare in the state of Missouri may be oral health. In 2012 The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States issued a report card for all 50 states based on eight benchmarks that they consider important steps to improve and expand access to dental health. Missouri received a grade of C, having met or exceeded only half of those benchmarks.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

  

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Affordable Care Act from a number of politicians - Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and, of course, President Obama, to name a few.  These people can talk about the number of people insured and weigh the cost versus economic impact. But behind those numbers they’re citing are people, Missourians. Those dollar figures they throw around, that’s money in and out of our pockets. So how do Missourians who have been trying to utilize the new healthcare law feel about it? 

Katie Hiler / KBIA

On a Thursday morning in late February, a group of 100 middle and high school students gathered in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Jefferson City for a capitol day event organized by the Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board. Their goal was to speak with their legislators about making the building smoke-free. Unlike every other public building in Jefferson City, the capitol building doesn’t entirely comply with the city’s smoking ban - lawmakers are unofficially allowed to smoke in their offices.

“They absolutely have the right to smoke and we’re not telling anyone they don’t,” said Youth Advisory board member Alex Higginbotham, age 17. “They can still smoke in their home, but we’re asking them in public not to affect us.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri is ranked 48th in the nation for number of adult smokers - roughly 1 in 4 Missourians over the age of 18 smoke. And the state ranks 50th for workplace exposure to second-hand smoke.  The state’s Clean Indoor Air law gives business owners the option to declare a public space smoke-free, or to set up a designated smoking area. If communities want to be truly smoke-free, it’s up to local governments to make that happen. In the fall of 2010, Jefferson City banned indoor smoking in public spaces, including the capitol building. But state legislators continue to not-so-secretly smoke in their offices.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Some of Missouri’s strongest anti-tobacco advocates just happen to be under 18 years old. More than one hundred students from across the state arrived in Jefferson City Thursday for an anti-tobacco advocacy and education event at the capitol organized by the Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board. The students delivered over two thousand signatures of support along with pinwheels to represent their desire for clean air to House of Representatives Majority Leader John Diehl. Currently, Jefferson City and most of the capitol building are smoke-free, but legislators are allowed to continue smoking in their offices.

Challiyan / Flickr

You’ve probably heard it before: rates of smoking and tobacco use in Missouri are some of the highest in the nation. Roughly 1 in 4 Missourians over the age of 18 smoke tobacco and the state ranks 50th for workplace exposure to second-hand smoke.  But what isn’t clear is why Missouri has consistently ranked so low compared with other states. I spoke with Traci Kennedy, Executive Director of Tobacco Free Missouri, who says it’s because lawmakers have made it particularly easy to be a tobacco user in the state.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

The Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace has been open for business since October 1 and technical issues that plagued the website early on have mostly been resolved. Yet Missouri residents have been slow to sign-up for health insurance under the new law. According to the nonprofit group Kaiser Family Foundation, only 40 percent of Missourians eligible to enroll have actually chosen a plan. I spoke with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about why signing up is important for Missouri residents, particularly in rural areas.  

Particle Fever

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

On March 14, 2013, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland tentatively confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, sometimes referred to as the “God particle.” Its discovery was the culmination of nearly 30 years of work. The film "Particle Fever" captures the tension and drama in a group of dedicated scientists on the brink of a once in a lifetime discovery.

The Notorious Mr. Bout

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Fest.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

For more than a decade, Russian entrepreneur Viktor Bout was widely thought of as the brilliant, elusive figure at the head of a global arms trade.  By the time he was brought down by an elaborate sting operation in 2008, Bout’s reputation in the media was that of a super villain. But in their film "The Notorious Mr. Bout," Maxim Pozdorovkin and Tony Gerber examine Bout’s life in the arms trade through a slightly different lens – his own. Before he became known as the “Merchant of Death,” Bout was to some simply a businessman, a travel enthusiast, and an amateur filmmaker.