Health & Wealth Desk

Wednesday mornings during Morning Edition, and Wednesday afternoon during All Things Considered

KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a short weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.

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  Jeremy Milarksy sits behind his office computer and opens up the calendar of appointments for the week. There’s hardly any white space. Appointments are scheduled back-to-back.

Milarsky expected that this week.

“We've been very, very busy around here because it's close to a deadline day,” he says.

Next Tuesday, December 15, is the last day to enroll in health insurance through the federal marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act to guarantee health coverage starting January 1, 2016.


Millersburg, Ohio is a 700-mile drive from Unionville, Missouri, so it’s an unlikely place for a Unionville resident to schedule a medical procedure. That is, unless they’re paying cash.

It was worth it for Truman, a Mennonite farmer who lives just outside of Unionville. "The best price I could get around here, I would still save $3000 to $4000 [by] going to Ohio," he recalls.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic will retain its license to operate an abortion facility until at least late December.

Following the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) on Monday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled Wednesday to extend the temporary restraining order until a preliminary injunction hearing could be held.

This ruling prevents the Department from revoking the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to operate an abortion facility.

Missouri Office of the Attorney General

  Americans are living longer, and in most cases, that comes with more healthcare costs, especially at the end of life. In a study this year, researchers at the University of Missouri found more Americans are preparing for the end of life through conversations and legal documents, and are reducing health care costs along the way.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A federal judge, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey, has blocked the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services from revoking the abortion facility license of the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic.

According to the Associated Press, the temporary restraining order will expire Wednesday after another hearing. 

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic could potentially lose its license to provide abortion services at midnight on Monday, November 30.

The University of Missouri Health Care System announced in September its “refer and follow” privileges would be discontinued. This category of privileges had been granted to the doctor working with the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, and had allowed the clinic to renew abortion services for the first time since 2012.  

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.


Daniela Vidal /KBIA

Nurse practitioners have been a part of Missouri’s health care scene for the past fifty years. The state has a shortage of primary care doctors, but state laws restrict nurse practitioners from filling that void.

Few nurse practitioners find a way to open their own practice with these restrictions in place, but Pat Bauer, who opened her practice in Wildwood, Missouri last May, found a way.

When she finished her schooling, Bauer applied to more than 30 jobs.  She heard back from just two.

One of the interviews particularly sticks out in Bauer’s mind. 

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Imagine going to a doctor’s appointment and not knowing how to get to the office, not understanding the complicated health care system and not speaking the language of the health care provider you were seeing.

Well, this can be the case for many new refugees settling in the US, and one Columbia agency, Refugee and Immigration Services, has partnered with senior nursing students from the Sinclair School of Nursing for the past few years, to help bridge those gaps. The Health Navigation Program helps new refugees learn how to efficiently and effectively navigate the health care system.


Jared Wong / Flickr

Researchers from the University of Missouri released a study tying mental health to forgiveness in older adults. By analyzing data from the Religion, Aging and Health Survey, Associate Professor of Human Development of Family Science Christine Proulx found a significant difference between how forgiveness impacts men and women's mental health.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

In rural communities, finding transportation to basic health care services can be difficult. So what if instead of making people come to health care – the health care came to them?

Well, the Mobile Mammography Van through Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is working to do just that - bringing preventative mammogram screenings to rural communities.


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.”


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

Many Mexican migrant farmworkers are heading home at the end of apple picking season this October. Sixty-one year-old Maria Zavala is one of them.

For the past 18 years she’s made the 20-hour drive from her home in Waco, Texas to western Missouri to work in the apple orchards.  She's struggled with high blood pressure that entire time, and like most migrant farmworkers who don't speak English, she often wasn't aware of the health care options available to her.


American Psychiatric Association

The Missouri Health Home program will be receiving a Gold Achievement Award for community-based services on Thursday from the American Psychiatric Association. This is one of four awards given out by the American Psychiatric Association every year to outstanding mental health programs.

Teens may not be the first demographic to come to mind when thinking about solving the problem of domestic and sexual violence, but for Becky Vermeire, who runs a domestic violence agency in rural Missouri, they are key.

“The way that we are going to prevent [domestic violence] is working with our kids,” Vermeire said. “If we are really going to make a dent in what we are doing for the future, it’s that prevention piece.”


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Family Health Center opened back in 1992, and is Columbia’s federally qualified health center, which gets federal funding to assist low-income and medically underserved populations.

Over the years it has expanded to include not just medical services, but also mental health and dental services. And then, more recently, has opened two satellite clinics in rural Missouri – Salisbury and Marceline.

Michaela Tucker / KBIA

When a woman is trying to leave an abusive relationship or unsafe domestic situation, shelters offer a safe space for her to stay and get back on her feet. But leaving an abusive relationship can be difficult for any woman.

According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, a woman seeking help will be in and out of a shelter seven times on average, before leaving the relationship. For deaf individuals, that number doubles.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On the heels of a decision made last Thursday that could leave Columbia - once again - without a doctor able to perform abortions, about 1000 people gathered on the University of Missouri campus Tuesday to voice their support of Planned Parenthood.

Speakers at the event ranged from a religious leader, to politicians, to MU graduate students and Planned Parenthood leadership. This event was a part of a national “Pink Out Day” and similar events were being held around the country.


Michaela Tucker / KBIA

The medical abortion services at the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic have been available since August – for the first time since 2012 – but following an announcement made by the University of Missouri Health Care system on Thursday, this may not be the case for much longer.

MU Health Care announced they would be eliminating the “refer and follow” privileges that had been granted to the doctor at Columbia’s Planned Parenthood clinic and one other provider. This decision will be effective December 1, 2015.


Justin Connaher / Flickr

Weightlifting is a common activity used to meet many different exercise goals, from young guys looking to get “swoll” to older men working to maintain muscle.

And new research from the University of Missouri shows that stronger bones is another reason for men to hit the gym and pump some iron.

A few years ago, Dr. Pam Hinton conducted a study on the overall health of men who participate in different types of exercise.

Association of American Universities

Nearly 31 percent of University of Missouri female undergraduate students reported being victims of nonconsensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation. This ranges from unwanted kissing to assault.

This was one of the many findings that were released Monday by the Association of American Universities and the University of Missouri. The results were from the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct the AAU conducted last April.

United States Census Bureau

The number of uninsured residents in Missouri and throughout the U.S. is down, according to the 2014 American Community Survey. The United States Census Bureau released the survey Wednesday as the first compilation of data since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

The survey showed 8.8 million fewer Americans were uninsured under the first year of the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Timothy McBride, a health economist at Washington University in St. Louis, said it's the first national report on the ACA.


2014-2015 Annual Report / MU Title IX Offfice

During the last 18 months, the University of Missouri has made changes in an effort to protect students from sex-based discrimination. This included opening a Title IX office and hiring staff, requiring all staff and faculty to act as mandatory reporters, as well as the entire University of Missouri system revising its policies in regards to sex-based discrimination.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

During this summer’s White House Conference on Aging, the U-S Department of Agriculture announced the start of a new pilot program to increase low-income seniors’ access to healthy food. The USDA hopes to allow seniors to use food stamp benefits on grocery delivery programs, a service that could help low-income seniors remain at home rather than moving to an assisted-living facility.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said lack of transportation to grocery stores is one of the biggest reasons almost 3 million seniors struggle to access healthy foods. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help low-income seniors afford groceries, but less than half of eligible seniors use the program.


columbiamo.va.gov

Two local agencies will be receiving more than $400,000 to continue programs that work to prevent homelessness in the veteran populations of Mid-Missouri. Phoenix Health Programs is one of the programs and has been awarded more than $200,000, while Welcome Home, Inc. has been awarded more than $190,000.  

L.E.A.D. Institute Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Logan sits at her desk, the same one she's had her whole career at L.E.A.D.
Michaela Tucker / KBIA

The deaf community has its own language, culture and set of obstacles, and most hearing people will never interact with it. But Dr. Stephanie Logan was thrust into the deaf community when she lost her hearing at the age of 23.

Logan was studying psychology at the University of Georgia when she contracted spinal meningitis. In less than a week, her hearing was completely gone.


Emerald O'Brien / KBIA

As mobile health technologies like Fitbits and Apple Health become more common, better health seems inevitable. But much of the data that users can now track never actually reaches their doctors.

That’s one of the problems University of Missouri psychiatrist Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishna faced while treating his patients with various mental illnesses. While some of his patients were logging their activity, both mental and physical, he couldn’t get a good record of it.


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. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Heroin continues to be a serious problem throughout the county. The Centers for Disease Control released data earlier this month that showed heroin use increasing among nearly every group – age, income, gender, etc. And according to the CDC’s report, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths heave nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

The White House announced earlier this month that it was determined to do something about this problem. It introduced the Heroin Response Strategy, which works to promote public health and public safety partnerships through a 15-state area. This new project aims to focus more on treating heroin addicts than on punishing them.


Tyler Adkisson / KBIA

More than a 1000 graduate students and their allies – faculty, staff, undergraduate students and families – gathered at noon Wednesday in support of graduate students and their demands.

Some graduate students also took part in an all-day walk-out to illuminate the role they play in the education of undergraduate students and in research.

The rally and walk-out were planned as a response to the health insurance subsidy issue that has been taking place over the last two weeks. 

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