Rebecca Smith

Health Reporter

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.

Ways to Connect

Sam McMillen, left, stands next to Elizabeth Modde, right, in the foyer of the University of Missouri Medical School
Jonah McKeown / KBIA

Sam McMillen and Elizabeth Modde are both medical students at the University of Missouri. They both work or have worked with MedZou – a free community health clinic run by medical staff and students.

Sam is currently the Director of Patient Advocacy and Referrals, and he sat down with Elizabeth in May to discuss some of the healthcare struggles their homeless patients face, and how their relationships with patients has changed them.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

 Dentist Jon Reagan smiles into the camera. He is wearing glasses and a bright yellow MOMOM [Missouri Mission of Mercy] t-shirt.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Jon Reagan is a dentist in Neosho, Mo., who has been practicing for almost 20 years. We met as he volunteered at the sixth annual Missouri Mission of Mercy (MOMOM). This is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin.

Nine years ago, Jon began visiting North Belize as a medical missionary, helping people with extractions and oral health care education. He spoke about the similarities he sees between the oral health issues in rural communities in Missouri and in Belize, as well as his passion for volunteering at MOMOM.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Darrell Watts, left, has short hair and wears a red shirt. He stands in front of his sister Lisa Harrison, right, who has curly blonde hair and wears a pink shirt.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Darrell Watts and his sister Lisa Harrison both live in Audrain County. Darrell was born with cerebral palsy and is legally blind. Lisa is her brother’s guardian and also a Residential House Coordinator for Audrain Development Disability Services - where she works with other people with disabilities on a daily basis.

They spoke about how Darrell owning his own home has caused some healthcare struggles over the past few years.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Carolyn Lewis, left, wears a black, white and gray striped shirt and smiles into the camera. Sheila Artis, right, wears a green polo shirt and smiles broadly.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Carolyn Lewis lives in Audrain County, Missouri. She has worked for a man in Audrain County for ten years through the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Self Directed Supports program.

She spoke with her cousin, Sheila Artis, about some of the struggles she has faced while working with this program – like lack of benefits and raises throughout the years.

The man she works for also received a letter in the mail earlier this month letting them know that, following state budget restrictions, the program’s individual budget allocations had been adjusted to reflect a 2.82 percent budget cut.

Carolyn also spoke about her fears going forward – for herself, her employer and this program - as future Missouri budget cuts loom.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Dr. John Dane, left, wears glasses, a dark blue suit and a white and blue-checkered shirt. Gary Harbison, right, has a full beard and wears a dark blue shirt and suit.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

This week on Intersection we bring you a special on oral health from the new KBIA project, Missouri Health Talks. Health reporter Rebecca Smith spoke with Dr. John Dane, the current State Dental Director, and Gary Harbison, the Executive Director for the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health.

They cover the Missouri Oral Health Plan, which runs from 2015 to 2020, advances that have been made in oral health policy and struggles Missourians still face when it comes to accessing quality, affordable dental care.

You will also hear conversations gathered by Smith in June at the 6th Annual MOMOM, or Missouri Mission of Mercy, in Joplin. This yearly, two-day dental clinic put on by the Missouri Dental Association provides free dental care for anyone willing to wait in line. This year approximately 1,200 people were served and more than $800,000 worth of care was provided.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Forest City is a very small town of about 250 people, nestled in very small, very rural Holt County in Northwest Missouri. The whole county has about 4500 residents.

Mayor Greg Book was born and raised in Forest City, and he refers to his home as “a Mayberry type of town.”

The town is quiet and charming, but there isn’t much to it. There is a diner, open until 2:00 p.m., a historic city hall, open until 2:30, and a Drug Store Museum, open for four hours every Sunday.

Tad Dobyns, left, and Phil Iman, right, stand in front of the Help Center – a beige building. Dobyns wears a checkered shirt and a bright red baseball cap. Iman, who has a long ponytail, wears glasses and a plaid shirt.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Tad Dobyns is a community organizer for Central Missouri Community Action in Audrain County. He recently sat down with his next-door neighbor of sorts: Phil Iman, the director of the Help Center next door. 

They spoke about a new program at the Help Center – called the Senior Box program – that provides extra food resources to low-income elderly individuals and helps meet some of the need in their community.  

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Janelle Williams, left, and JoAnne Marietta, right, stand in front of a blue-shuttered window. Williams wears a bright orange peasant top and glasses, and Marietta wears a royal blue blouse and glasses.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Janelle Williams and JoAnne Marietta both work at Audrain County Crisis Intervention Service or ACCIS – a non-profit that provides resources to people in domestic and sexual violence situations.

Janelle is the executive director and JoAnne works as the equal access advocate. They spoke about the challenges their clients without legal immigration status have when pursuing legal action against abusive partners and when trying to obtain U visas, a nonimmigrant visa set aside for people who are victims of crimes and have suffered substantial abuse. 

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.

A selfie. Simon McKeown stands in front of his family in a dark blue shirt and glasses. Behind him are his seven children and wife. His oldest son Jonah sits bottom right - has a beard, glasses and a wears a maroon t-shirt.
Jonah McKeown

Simon McKeown has been a physician in Mexico, Missouri, for many years. Now, he works as the medical director for the Audrain County Health Department and works at a local Urgent Care office.

He sat down with his oldest son, Jonah, to speak about some of the health issues in Audrain County – like high STD rates – and reflect on how their family has benefited from social programs in the past, like years ago, when Simon was in medical school.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.

State Rep. Race and New Tax Proposition on the August Boone County Ballot

Aug 7, 2017
File / KBIA

It’s nearly Election Day again in Boone County and there are only a few items on the ballot Tuesday.  The ballot includes Proposition 1, which seeks to impose a new Boone county-wide one-half of one percent sales tax for “improving and maintaining roads, bridges and right-of-ways.”  There's also a race to fill the state representative seat from the 50th district, which includes parts of Boone, Cooper, Cole and Moniteau Counties. Republican candidate Sara Walsh is running against Democratic candidate Michaela Skelton to fill the seat left vacant when Caleb Jones resigned to become Gov.

Terri Rose smiles into the camera. She is an older woman with short, white hair. She is wearing a green, MOMOM volunteer shirt and her glasses rest on the top of her head.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Terri Rose is an RN from Webb City, Missouri. We met as she worked the medical triage at the sixth annual MOMOM. This is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin.

Terri is currently on disability benefits, but says she wanted to come volunteer her time as a nurse and help at the event. We caught up about her experience working MOMOM and about an unexpected takeway from the weekend as workers began breaking down on Saturday evening.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Brenda Nichols smiles into the camera. She has short, gray hair, wears a multi-colored cross necklace and a shirt that says "I didn't survive cancer to die of stress."
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Brenda Nichols lost her father in the 2011 tornado that decimated Joplin, Missouri, but she says this is far from the only hardship she has faced in her 68 years. She is a 20 year survivor of breast cancer and has struggled to get oral health care in the past few years.

We met as she waited in line to receive care at the sixth annual MOMOM, which is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin.

Brenda, who lives in Carl Junction, Missouri, seems to always be smiling and remains optimistic, but says she “never dreamed” that she and her husband would struggle this much as they got older, and she spoke about some of the difficulties they face getting care.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Jack Gouverneur stands looking into the camera. He is 86 years old, has many wrinkles and is balding. He wears a blue and black striped polo. There is an American flag flying over his left shoulder.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Jack Gouverneur is an 86-year-old Korean War veteran who lives in Carthage, Missouri. Last month, over the course of a weekend, he waited in line for hours to get free dental care at the sixth annual MOMOM or Missouri Mission of Mercy. 

MOMOM is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin, Missouri.

 

Jack does have dental insurance, but said MOMOM happened at the "right time," and allowed him to get three teeth extracted without having to pay his insurance co-pays. He reflected on the dental care he has received throughout his 86 years.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Edna Hardy, left, wears a blue shirt and wears wire rimmed glassees. She has short, brown hair. Katrina Hale, right, wears a purple and gray hoodie, also wears glasses and has long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Edna Hardy and Katrina Hale are sisters who live in Miami, Oklahoma. Last month they traveled over the Oklahoma-Missouri border to get free dental care at the 6th annual MOMOM or Missouri Mission of Mercy.

MOMOM is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin, Missouri.

Edna and Katrina spoke about some of the struggles they have faced getting adequate care throughout the years. 

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Leslie Anderson stands over the shoulder of Max Lewis wearing a pink blouse amnd white cardigan. She has blonde hair. Max Lewis, right, sits in a power wheelchair wearing glasses and a red shirt. They both smile into the camera.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Max Lewis is a lawyer in Columbia. He is also quadriplegic and uses a program called Consumer Directed Services to hire in-home help with personal care. He sat down with Leslie Anderson, the director of policy and advocacy for Services for Independent Living.

U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who issued a rare joint news release a few days ago to declare, in effect, that they’re wild about Harry S. Truman and optimistic his statue will soon bump Blair’s.

Starting July 1, though, the state will only pay up to 60 percent of what it would cost to live in a nursing home. There are a very limited amount of waivers that would allow people to keep their full care, but these make up for a tiny fraction of the estimated 8,800 Missourians who need this kind of care. 

For the rest, these changes may mean getting fewer hours of assistance or ending up in a nursing home.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.  

Family Health Center

The Family Health Center in Columbia will have a new CEO as of July 1.

The new CEO is Jack Kelly, who has served as the Chief Operating Officer for the organization for nearly seven years. 

Kelly said he was originally inspired to work in community healthcare after being a nursing home administrator for nearly 30 years.

Regional stories from the KBIA newsroom, including:

·      University of Missouri Revokes Cosby's Honorary Degree

·      MU to Rent Out Vacant Residence Halls, Tackle Declining Enrollment


Andrew Quint, a middle aged white man, wears a blue and white striped shirt and stands over the left shoulder of Beth Rahn, a middle aged white woman with red hair and a blue shirt covered in hearts.
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Dr. Andrew Quint has been the Medical Director at Family Health Center in Columbia for many years. For the past 11 years, he has worked with nurse Beth Rahn. They spoke about the many patients they have seen over the years and how those patients have changed their lives.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.  

Regional stories from the KBIA newsroom, including: 

·      Circuit Court Judge Christine Carpenter will Retire this Fall

·      After 35 Years, Wendy Noren Resigns as Boone County Clerk


Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, left, smiles into the camera. She is wearing a black and white shirt and black rimmed glasses. Rene Powell, right, smiles into the camera. She is wearing thinly-rimmed glasses and a tan coat.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Columbia resident Rene Powell spoke with her friend Traci Wilson-Kleekamp about what life has been like with a disability. They also spoke about how life has changed for Rene as her disabilities have become more visible - as she started using a walker recently to assist with her mobility.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.

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