Rebecca Smith | KBIA

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

Provided by Jordan Parshall

Many routine medical procedures have been postponed or rescheduled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but there is one common medical condition that cannot be put off so easily – pregnancy.

So, hospitals in Mid-Missouri have had to determine the best ways to keep moms, babies and staff safe, as well as reduce anxiety for expectant mothers.


Meiying Wu

Today, new guidance was announced for a wider reopening of businesses and activity in Columbia and Boone County.

According to the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, there have been 108 positive COVID-19 cases in the area, with nine being active and one person hospitalized.


Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

There will be a COVID-19 testing event held in Columbia on June 1st and 2nd from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. according to a press release from the Department of Health and Senior Services. This event is part of Governor Parson’s plan to increase testing volume in Missouri to 7,500 test a day.

The Boone County event will take place at Hickman High School. The only requirement for individuals who wish to be tested is Missouri residency. There are no symptom or doctor’s note requirements nor do people need to live in Boone County to be tested.

Dr. John Dane, left, wears a light blue polo and glasses. Gary Harbison, right, wears a dark blue button up and glasses.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Dr. John Dane is the state Dental Director and Gary Harbison is the executive director of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health.

They spoke about some of the concerns they have about the possible long-term impacts of COVID-19 on oral health, as many dental clinics have been closed and Missourians may have gotten out of a normal oral health routine.

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

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

Starting Monday, May 18, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be recommending more testing in long-term care facilities, in an effort to increase COVID-19 testing within high-risk environments.


Since working from home began, Counselor Madeline Nash often works alongside a new “co-worker,” her daughter Willa.
Provided by Madeline Nash

Madeline Nash is a counselor at University Counseling Services at Truman State University in Kirksville, and full disclosure, someone I knew during my undergrad at Truman.

She spoke about her role with college students since classes moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, and about how students – and others – should “give themselves that empathy” to mourn the loss of things like graduation during this unprecedented time.

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

Provided by Dr. Bart Andrews

Dr. Bart Andrews is the Chief Clinical Officer at Behavioral Health Response in Creve Coeur and Chair of the Missouri Suicide Prevention Network.

He spoke with KBIA producer Trevor Hook about the possible increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic – and about what everyone can do to help. 

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

Sarah Dresser / KBIA

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been playing a larger-than-ever role in response to the crisis.

So, Dr. Mary Beck, the Chief Nursing Officer for University of Missouri Health Care and a professor at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, spoke about some of the ways nurses have been trained and are continuing to get prepared for a potential COVID-19 surge.

This is an excerpt from KBIA’s daily talk show, the Check-In with Janet Saidi, on Wednesday, April 15. You can hear the full show – here.


Provided by Louise Secker

In 2011, a devastating EF5 tornado tore through the city of Joplin, and in the wake of that disaster, Lafayette House was there to provide services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Louise Secker is the Director of Development for Lafayette House in Joplin. The shelter assists survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as people with substance use disorders. She spoke with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith about how the lessons of the 2011 Joplin tornado have helped them adjust to delivering care to survivors during the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Sheree Keely is the executive director at Citizens Against Domestic Violence, a domestic and sexual violence shelter in Camdenton, Missouri.

She spoke about the crisis hotline the organization is continuing to run – from employee’s homes – and about how they’re doing their best to meet the needs of survivors in rural Missouri. She said that she believes calls will continue to increase in the weeks to come.

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

KBIA

Dr. Michael Lefevre is the interim chair of MU’s Department of Family Medicine. He researches best practices in family medicine and public health, and is a physician himself.

Dr. Lefevre spoke about how the field of family medicine is changing during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect staff and patients – and to keep the most vulnerable among us, safe.

This is an excerpt from KBIA’s daily talk show, the Check-In with Janet Saidi, on Monday, April 13. You can hear the full show – here.


Provided by Dr. Preethi Yerram

By now, most people will probably have heard that older and immunocompromised individuals have a higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19. But for one group of patients, those who need dialysis – the normal recommendations of simply isolating at home, isn’t really an option.

Dr. Preethi Yerram is a nephrologist for the University of Missouri Health Care System, as well as the Medical Director at the DCI Transitional Care Unit and Home Dialysis Unit here in Columbia. She spoke with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith about the additional risks that individuals receiving dialysis are having to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic – as they have to risk exposure every time they receive necessary, life-sustaining treatment.

KBIA's Rebecca Smith's cat, Pip, sleeps on his windowsill bed while keeping her company in her home office.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

When my cat, Pip, started sniffling and sneezing a few weeks ago, I didn’t give it much thought. But as the sneezing continued, I started to get worried – both about Pip, of course, and about how I was going to safely get him to the veterinarian during Columbia’s stay-at-home order.

So, I called my vet and found out they had changed the way appointments were handled. Instead of going into the office with my cat, I would call when I was parked outside, hand Pip over in a carrier from my car, and then talk to the vet over the phone about a treatment plan.

A drive-up, hands-off vet clinic.


Provided by Matthew Huffman

As COVID-19 cases have gone up in Missouri, more and more stay-at-home orders have gone into effect. But these orders, which are an attempt to reduce transmission, could, in some cases, be increasing the risk of domestic and sexual violence.

Matthew Huffman is the Public Affairs Director for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and he spoke with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith about how domestic violence programs offering direct services to survivors – things like shelter, counseling, food, and more – are adapting and where people can still turn for help.


Sarah Hallam / VOX Magazine/KBIA

This week’s Missouri Health Talks is a collaboration with Vox Magazine.

Hilary and Chad Hardesty have been trying to have a baby for more than seven years now, and while their doctors tell them they’re good candidates for IVF, the enormous price tag on the procedure has been a challenge for the couple.

They spoke with reporter Sarah Hallam about their efforts to raise money for IVF, in part, through their website, https://hardestyhouseinfertility.com.

Samantha Waigand / The Columbia Missourian, VOX magazine

This week’s Missouri Health Talks is a collaboration with Vox Magazine.

Kelly Gilion is the owner of Plume, a local gift shop here in Columbia. She also started a support group for women dealing with fertility issues called Graceful Wait in 2010.

She spoke with reporter Sarah Hallam about how she was inspired to create this group by her own desire for support during her own six-year struggle.

You can read more about Kelly and the support group in the March issue of Vox Magazine - available now around town and online: What does it cost to undergo IVF?


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

By now, most people will know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider older individuals "at higher risk" for serious complications of COVID-19, but there are several other groups that also have higher risk – and are maybe not as obvious to the naked eye. 


Christina Ingoglia stands, holding her five-year-old daughter, Lilly, in her arms.
Provided by Christina Ingoglia

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, all 555 of Missouri’s schools are currently closed in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, but for the parents of children with disabilities, this can present even more challenges.

Christina Ingoglia is the President of the Missouri Disability Empowerment, or MoDE, Foundation, and the mother of Lilly – a five-year-old who has cognitive disabilities from a rare genetic condition.

She spoke with KBIA’s Rebecca Smith about how she and her family are coping, and about how they are keeping Lilly busy at home.


Regional headlines from the KBIA Newsroom, including:

Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, also known as DESE, has made the decision to close all Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled. The closure begins on Wednesday, March 18.

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo, the Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention for MU Healthcare, left, Dr. Ashley Millham, the Medical Director for Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, middle and Lucio Bitoy talked COVID-19 prep in MO
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

“The ultimate goal is to slow down the spread and decrease the transmission.”

KBIA’s Rebecca Smith sat down with Dr. Christelle Ilboudo, the Medical Director of Infection Contol and Prevention for MU Health Care, and two individuals from Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services – Medical Director Dr. Ashley Millham and Public Inforamtion Officer Lucio Bitoy – to discuss some of the preparations that are underway to prevent, and if necessary, manage the spread of COVID-19 in Mid-Missouri.

There have been six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missouri: two in St. Louis County, three in Greene County, and one in Henry County. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Mataka Askari lives in Columbia with his family and works as a certified peer specialist for those dealing with substance use disorders. He’s also actively using his experiences from spending 23 and a half years in prison to help others.

He's been out of prison for approximately 18 months, and, in this special, he reflects on his childhood and his personal growth during those many years in prison.


Jannis Evans, left, wears a gray sweatshirt and bright. Red lipstick. Lynne Meyerkord, right, wears a floral blouse and glasses. They stand in front of a large “Empower Missouri” banner.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Jannis Evans and Lynne Meyerkord both work in HIV advocacy. Jannis is the longtime advocate for people living with HIV and used to work in the field, and Lynne is the Executive Director at the AIDS Project of the Ozarks in Springfield.

I met up with them at the Jefferson City office of Empower Missouri.

They spoke about how the impacts and complications of an HIV diagnosis can go far beyond physical health.

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

Mataka Askari lives in Columbia and works as a certified peer specialist for Burrell Behavioral Health, but before that – he spent 23 and a half years in prison.

He spoke about post-incarceration syndrome, a form of PTSD specific to those who have been in prison, and some of the ways it impacts his life every day.

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

Friends Amanda Fitzwater, left, and Catrina Huskey, right, both work in HIV management and prevention in Butler County, Missouri. They stand in front of their office’s “condom closet.”
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Catrina Huskey and Amanda Fitzwater both work at the Butler County Health Department in Poplar Bluff. Catrina is an HIV case manager and Amanda is a prevention specialist.

Jack Ramsey, left, wears a navy sweater and kneels next to his wife, Evelyn Ramsey, right, who is seated and wears a gray sweatshirt.
Will Robinson / KBIA

Evelyn and Jack Ramsey live in rural Lincoln County. About half an hour from Troy, Missouri, which has a population of about 12,500 people.

Evelyn used to work as a nurse and Jack in avionics at McDonnell Douglas. They spoke about some of the struggles with access to emergency health care that exist in rural Missouri.

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