Health and Wealth | KBIA

Health and Wealth

Alisha Floyd bounces her son Chance on her lap. He giggles and pulls her hair.

“He’s the fattest baby here,” she says, laughing.

Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

“You can’t be worried about what other people are thinking all the time. “

In this episode, co-hosts Madi and Becky and executive producer Aaron Hay answer a few listener questions during a recent launch party in Columbia and give listeners a look behind the scenes of “The Obvious Question.”

They discussed the editorial process, how Madi selected her guests, which episodes were personal favorites and what’s next.

A new Illinois statute aims to boost flu shot rates among healthcare workers by making it harder for employees to decline the vaccine.

Lawmakers say this is important in light of last year’s flu season that killed more people than car crashes and drug overdoses. But some on the frontlines of public health worry that a law that’s not enforced will have little effect.


Paulina Nieto, who grew up in Columbus, Indiana, was only 2 months old when she started to have heart problems due to a narrow artery.

Ohio’s first transgender and gender non-conforming health and community center is a cross between a funky '80s apartment and a modern doctor’s office.

There are a few couches gathered around a TV, a kitchen, a small stage and a few exam rooms. Mikayla Robinson, the center's engagement specialist, wears a "Miss Gay Ohio" sash, which matches the brightly colored walls.

When Matthew Timion needed to get his son treatment for mental illness, he did not anticipate it would be so hard to get the insurance company to pay for it.

Steve Dillman thinks he can trace his prostate cancer back to August 1, 1985.

It’s late summer, and the drone of insects is a sound that Lonnie Kessler has come to dread. A similar chirping means he’s minutes away from another seizure.

“It sounds like a thousand crickets all at once in my head. And so that really alerts me this is going to happen right now,” Kessler said. “And then I lose consciousness.”

Nearly 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S., but many will never get one. Instead they’ll stay on dialysis for the rest of their lives. A team of doctors in Philadelphia have found a possible solution to this problem, by infecting patients with a potentially fatal virus.

The Obvious Question

Sep 17, 2018
A portrait of Madi Lawson.
Jessie King / For KBIA

Get ready to throw your assumptions about disability out the window!

In "The Obvious Question," Madi Lawson, a 21-year-old journalism student who has two rare forms of muscular dystrophy, takes on the assumptions, misconceptions and just plain ignorance others have about people with disabilities.

Can you even have sex?

Sep 17, 2018
Host Madi Lawson poses with Lexi Mortimer in front of a museum exhibit.
Tony Huynh / For KBIA

"Just call me 'pretty'."

In this episode, Madi and Becky look at the world of dating, relationships and...sex. Madi sat down with Lexi, one of her best friends who also has SMA, and Lexi's boyfriend, Tyler, to talk about the way the world perceives their relationship.

Whether it's the world over-sexualizing and under-sexualizing them at the same time, asking their able-bodied companions to talk for them or the physical realties of sex-this is a conversation about disability that you've never heard before (but have probably wondered about).

Tobie Roberts measures and pins a dress on Madi Lawson.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

When was the last time you saw a model with a disability? Or a person with a disability featured in an advertising campaign? On a runway? Or even a mannequin in a store that showcased a different ability? It might be hard to recall even one.

In this episode, Madi and Becky take a look at the world of fashion-Madi's #1 love. She talks with fashion designer Tobie Roberts about how to design for disabled bodies, their experiences working together for Kansas City Fashion Week and what the fashion industry can do to be truly inclusive.

Madi Lawson / For KBIA

More than once, Madi has been asked if her friends-who look nothing like her-are her sister or caretaker.

In this episode, Madi and Becky take a look at the crossroads of friendship and caretakers. Madi talks to her younger roommates, Tonesha and Haley, who are still learning what it's like to have a friend with a disability, and her best friend, Jessie, who's old hat and muses about how being Madi's friend has turned her into a fierce advocate for the rights of those with disabilities.

Hosts: Madison Lawson, Rebecca Smith

How do you pee?

Sep 17, 2018
Madi Lawson / For KBIA

There’s no party quite like a pee party.

In this episode, Madi and Becky talk all things bathroom with her best friend, Sabrina or “Bean.” These girls have been through it all – the rocky road of high school, prom dress shopping and more bathroom trips than either can count. 

Madi and Bean talk about bathrooms, about the way others have asked Madi to make her body more accommodating to them and about the perception of disabled bodies in public spaces. 

Hosts: Madison Lawson, Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Pink. Blue. Icy Blonde. You name a color, Madi’s hair has been it. But what about finding a salon that can accommodate her needs?

In this episode, Madi and Becky explore the multi-colored world of hair salons. Madi and her stylist, Amber, talk about their relationship, working with clients who’s needs are different and about what salons can do to be more welcoming to all people of all abilities.

Hosts: Madison Lawson, Rebecca Smith

Reporting By: Taylor Kinnerup, Rebecca Smith

Stephanie Cosenza / For KBIA

Madi says people often feel sorry for her for the wrong reasons. It's not the fact that she has SMA or uses a wheelchair that make her sad, it's the same things as any 21-year-old: boys, school or simply a bad hair day. 

In this episode, Madi and Becky take a look at the world of disabilities and mental health. Separated into two different chunks, the first part of the episode questions the assumptions others have about the mental health of people with disabilities through reflections on a local TEDx talk done by Hayden, a friend of Madi's.

Every day, Amanda Moller scoops powdered formula out of a can and shakes it up with water from her kitchen sink. It's like mixing a cocktail, she said, "but not that much fun."

The formula doesn’t taste great – like watery pudding with a biting, cheesy aftertaste. But it’s something Amanda needs to treat a rare metabolic condition she’s had since she was born. After 30 years, she’s gotten used to it.

Amanda’s employer-based insurance plan (through her husband’s employer) doesn’t cover it. Like many treatments for rare diseases, the lack of well-funded research and the tendency of insurers to focus on the bottom line mean sometimes patients can’t afford necessary medical supplies. Many of the 16,000 people in the United States who need the formula spend close to $1,000 a month to buy it.

Nicole Smith-Holt’s son Alec was 23 when he started feeling sick. His muscles cramped. He was lethargic. He woke up multiple times every night to use the bathroom. After two weeks, Smith-Holt encouraged him to go to urgent care.

Lee Ann Stuart still wears her nursing scrubs, even though the only work she’s been doing since Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center closed June 11 is to pack boxes of medical supplies to be hauled away.

“It’s strange walking those halls, and they’re empty and the lights are down,” Stuart says. She’s been a nurse at the hospital in rural Kennett, Missouri, for 22 years.

DeVonte Jones began to show signs of schizophrenia as a teenager. His first public episode was nine years ago at a ball game at Wavering Park in Quincy, Illinois.

“He snapped out and just went around and started kicking people,” said Jones’ mother Linda Colon, who now lives in Midlothian in the Chicago suburbs.


U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for a federal investigation of billing practices at Putnam County Memorial Hospital, which was the subject of a highly critical state audit last year.

Taja Welton is ready for her daughter to be born. She’s moved into a bigger house, one with room for a nursery. She has a closet full of pink, Minnie Mouse-themed baby clothes. Her baby bag is packed right down to the outfit she plans to bring her baby home in that reads, “The Princess Has Arrived.”

“I can’t wait to put it on her,” Welton smiles. The princess even has a name: Macen.


A budget proposal to fund two additional investigators for a statewide prescription drug monitoring program is in limbo as some Missouri state senators still oppose the effort to respond to an increase in drug overdose deaths in the state.

Missouri remains the only state in the nation without a program that allows doctors or pharmacists to track a patient's prescription history, despite being among the 20 worst states for drug overdose deaths.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back event took place Friday and Saturday in Boone County. Officials collected 826 pounds of medications from seven locations throughout the county. This year’s event collected the third-highest amount of medications since the program began eight years ago. Major Tom Reddin, chief deputy in Boone County, says the take-back events remove a lot of potentially dangerous drugs from the county.

It was a scheduling mishap that led Kourtnaye Sturgeon to help save someone’s life. About four months ago, Sturgeon drove to downtown Indianapolis for a meeting. She was a week early.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said.


As he fights to retain control of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, Jorge Perez’s woes continue to pile up at other rural hospitals where he was once hailed as a hero.

Last month, in the second of a three-part series, CBS News aired a piece about Empower, a Perez-run company whose affiliates have been involved in many of the rural hospital takeovers orchestrated by Perez and his associates.

A battle royale has erupted in tiny Unionville, Missouri, over the town’s endangered community hospital.

Trustees of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in the north central community are trying to get rid of the company that took over the ailing institution in 2016 and then ran more than $90 million in questionable lab billings through the hospital.

A panel of Missouri House lawmakers has slashed the budget for the state health department's administration for not providing information about a virus that killed a state employee.

The House Budget Committee on Wednesday voted to cut funding for 10 staffers and halve the budget for the director's office.

This story was originally published February 6. It has been updated as of February 9 at 1 pm.

The Atchison-Holt Ambulance District spans two counties and 1,100 square miles in the far northwest corner of Missouri. The EMTs who drive these ambulances cover nearly 10 times more land area than their counterparts in Omaha, the nearest major city. 

As doctors repeatedly warn, it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

That’s especially so in Kansas City, which, according to the maker of a “smart thermometer” app, has one of the highest rates of flu in the country.

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