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.

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When Joe Morris had a heart attack last Easter and had to be rushed to the ER, it was the first time he’d been to the doctor in more than 40 years — since high school.

Back home in the small community of Neosho, Mo., Morris needed follow-up care to manage his heart disease and diabetes, but he didn’t have a doctor — or insurance.


stethoscope
Vitualis / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that using alcohol to fall asleep may actually be keeping people awake.

Dr. Mahesh Thakkar is a professor and neurology researcher at the MU School of Medicine. He’s been studying alcohol’s affect on human sleep for many years. He says that 20 percent of US adults have used alcohol  - at some point  - to help them fall asleep.

But, he said, “it is a pseudo-sleeping drug.  It will produce sleep for a very short time, but then it will keep you awake all night.”

Mizzou Columns
David Chicopham / Flickr

A group of researchers from the University of Missouri have found that individuals with autism need more support as they transition into adulthood.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Family Social Work, MU researchers spoke with young people with autism, as well as their caretakers about the challenges they face as they enter adulthood. 

“One caregiver described this as they just felt like they hit a brick wall,” Jennifer First said.

MU Health Care / University of Missouri Health System

The Chief Executive Officer of University of Missouri Health Care will be leaving his post – effective February 24, 2017.

Mitch Wasden became the chief operating officer of MU Health Care in 2012, and then also took over the CEO duties in 2013. Earlier this year MU hired a new COO, and Wasden continued his work as CEO.

According to an email from the MU Chancellor’s office, Wasden made “tremendous strides in advancing the health of Missourians” during his tenure.

Caroline Brown, a sophomore at the University of Missouri got a fever over Thanksgiving break. Soon it became painful to bite down, and her cheek began to swell. A trip to her physician confirmed it – Caroline had the mumps.

“Mumps kind of sounds like this archaic thing,” Brown said. “We get vaccinated for it - it just sounds like something that nobody gets.  So I just didn’t think that it was possible that I would get it.”


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

“I figured there are only about 25 people that know me.”

Columbia resident Mr. Ferrill Purdy was clearly overwhelmed by the number of people who had come to hear about his life and military service, and see one of the planes he flew in combat during WWII take to the skies over town this past October.

Michaela Tucker
KBIA

“This is crazy.”

The words of 10-year-old Elena Hoffman seemed to echo the sentiment of many of the partygoers at Ragtag Cinema’s election night watch party on November 8.

The party, which was billed as a bi-partisan gathering, drew mostly Clinton-supporters. Attendees could spend their evening waiting for results at either the bar, the large theater that aired CNN coverage or the small theater that aired the PBS telecast.

Tracy Lane, the executive director of Ragtag, estimated that nearly 200 people were in attendance by 8 p.m.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The University of Missouri System announced Wednesday its next president will be Mun Y. Choi, current provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut. The announcement was made at an event in Jefferson City. According to a release from the University of Missouri System, Choi will begin work on March 1, 2017.

Pamela Henrickson, the chair of the Board of Curators, introduced Choi. She called him a “superb leader,” and praised his commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

About 1,300 people toed the starting line this past weekend for the 8th annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Half Marathon and 10K. According to Patrick Hanson, the race director, participation was up 12 percent this year. 

As of the September 30, a relatively unknown herbal supplement called kratom will likely join the ranks of Schedule 1 drugs in the U.S. - alongside drugs like heroin, LSD and marijuana.

This supplement has been traditionally used in Southeast Asia, but has recently gained popularity in the United States as a way to manage opioid withdrawal or chronic pain without the use of prescription medications.

Researchers and people using the herb decry the DEA’s move to criminalize it, which they say will stall research and deprive many Americans of a presumably harmless substitute to stronger prescription painkillers.


29-year-old Zach Heath was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on Christmas Eve last year. His response was to bury himself in his basement with a PlayStation 4 and Call of Duty. 

“[I] just shot people in video games for about eight hours, and that was how I kind of released my frustration,” he says.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On a late Friday in June, Charley Joe Dill casually smokes a cigarette outside the Retroplex skating rink in Saint Robert, Missouri. He stands back a bit from the door, but people still flock to him - stopping to say “Hi” on their way in.

While spending a summer night at the skating rink isn’t anything too unusual in rural Missouri, this particular skate night is special – it’s part of the Pulaski County Pride festival.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Kristin Metcalf-Wilson said the activist in her couldn’t help leading cheers of “What do we want? Access. When do we want it? Always.” with those gathered Monday at Glenn’s Café to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Hellerstedt.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

In April the US Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] released new guidelines about the use of criminal records when denying or terminating a housing agreement.

To find out more about the new guidelines and what it could mean for Columbia residents, Rebecca Smith, from the KBIA Health and Wealth desk, sat down with Phil Steinhaus, the CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Tiffany Seda-Addington has been fighting for expanded access to naloxone for nearly three years. Ever since her best friend James Carmack died of a heroin overdose at his mother’s house.

“When James died,” Tiffany said. “It was immediately we have to do something.”

That “something” that she and others in Pulaski County, Missouri, decided to fight for was expanded access to naloxone, also known as Narcan. It’s the opioid overdose antidote that essentially brings a person dying from a heroin or opioid overdose back to life.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The Coalition of Graduate Workers, a union representing MU graduate student employees, filed a lawsuit against the University Of Missouri Board Of Curators on Wednesday.   

The Coalition is suing to have graduate students classified as employees and to have the Coalition of Graduate Workers be recognized as the collective bargaining representative for MU graduate student employees.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A U.S. District Judge has ruled in favor of the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic – issuing a permanent injunction that protects the clinic’s license to perform abortions.

In her ruling on Wednesday, US District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a permanent injunction to the clinic, therefore preventing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services [DHSS] from revoking the clinic’s license.

Laughrey wrote that the department likely bowed to political pressure and unfairly revoked the clinic's license compared to how other facilities’ licenses are handled.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Graduate students at the University of Missouri have voted in favor of the Coalition of Graduate Workers as their official collective bargaining agent.

This movement toward unionization began months ago, in August 2015, when MU unexpectedly announced it would be eliminating health insurance subsides for graduate students.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On November 9, 2015, following an intense few weeks of student protests on Mizzou’s campus and the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe earlier the same day, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped up to a podium in front of  the Board of Curators and the journalists gathered.

“I have decided today that I will transition from the role of chancellor of Missouri effective at the end of this year and move into a new role where I will work with many people across the system to advance our research mission,” Loftin said.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Dozens of people gathered in support of Brian Treece at Broadway Brewery on Tuesday night. They gathered to eat, talk and watch the votes for mayor being tallied.

Treece said he believed they ran a great campaign effort and brought together many volunteers who had never volunteered with a campaign before.

“They say campaigns are the ultimate team sport and I thought we put together a great team,” Treece said.

Treece said they knew it would be a close vote, so he and his supporters, friends and family gathered to wait and see what the final verdict would be.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

In stories about premature birth and premature babies you might have heard the term NICU? But what exactly is a NICU and what goes on there?

To find out, KBIA visited the NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital here in Columbia.


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