Health and Wealth | KBIA

Health and Wealth

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The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing announced today that they’re making clear, accessible masks available to Missourians.

These accessible masks have clear fronts, which allow people to clearly see an individual’s mouth while they speak. This aspect of communication is critical for those who read lips and an integral part of effective communication for those who speak American Sign Language.

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.

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.

Preston Keres / Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos

Yordani Hernández tiene temor de volver al trabajo. Yordani tiene 45 años y es empleado de la planta procesadora de carne de Triumph Foods en St. Joseph, Missouri. La semana pasada, a Hernández le tomaron una muestra para COVID-19, que salió negativa, pero teme tener que trabajar al lado de otros que dieron positivo para el coronavirus. El Miercoles, un empleado de la planta murió de COVID-19.


Preston Keres / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Yordani Hernández is scared to go to work. The 45-year-old works at Triumph Foods, which had its first employee die from COVID-19 on Wednesday. Hernández was tested for COVID-19 last week, and while his test came back negative, he’s worried about working alongside others who tested positive. 

Hernandez says everyone is scared, but they are afraid to act because they fear reprisals. He says he was tested after having been in contact with one of the first three workers to test positive.

Diane McMillen

For hundreds of elderly and disabled residents in Missouri, personal care attendants, or PCAs, are a lifeline that stave off isolation and help them stay out of nursing homes. The field was already facing a shortage of workers before the COVID-19 pandemic began, but now, things are even worse.

Zhihan Huang / Missouri Business Alert

As the rate of new COVID-19 cases in a few urban areas across Missouri slows, cases in some rural counties are spiking. With at least 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday morning, Saline County has a rate of more than 445 cases per 100,000 residents — the highest in the state. That figure is almost double the rate in St. Louis County, which has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state with 2,417. Saline County has two major meat processing plants in Marshall, owned by Cargill and ConAgra Brands - both of which say employees have tested positive.

Missouri Highlands Healthcare

Correction: a previous version of this story reported a COMTREA Health employee tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was exposed to the virus outside of work and quarantined, but was not symptomatic.

If someone gets sick in a seven county swathe of the Ozarks of southeastern Missouri, the closest place they can go for care is a clinic run by Missouri Highlands Health Care. Highlands is a federally qualified health center or FQHC, with clinics in some of the least populated and poorest counties in the state. Now, some of those clinics are are cutting back.

Karen White is Highlands’ CEO. She says dental care - a major source of revenue - is now restricted to emergency procedures. "“We just shuttered our dental clinic — we have three of them operating throughout the organization plus a mobile dental,” White said. She’s had to furlough a tenth of Highlands' 200 members so far, and has reduced hours for many others.

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.

Courtesy of Citizens Memorial Healthcare

As COVID-19 cases have increased exponentially in the U.S., CDC guidelines have led healthcare providers across the country to cancel outpatient procedures and elective surgeries. In rural areas, that's left already struggling clinics and hospitals without a vital source of income. Tim Wolters, director of reimbursement at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar says his health system now has to balance preparing for COVID-19 cases and maintaining staff. 

Courtesy of Citizens Memorial Healthcare

As COVID-19 cases have increased exponentially in the U.S., CDC guidelines have led healthcare providers across the country to cancel outpatient procedures and elective surgeries. In rural areas, that's left already struggling clinics and hospitals without a vital source of income. Tim Wolters, director of reimbursement at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar says his health system now has to balance preparing for COVID-19 cases and maintaining staff. 

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, the Broadway Diner was empty. The ‘50s-style greasy spoon has been a fixture of downtown Columbia for decades. But owner Dave Johnson said he’d never seen anything like this. “I was here when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and I thought that was horrible, but it’s nothing like this,” Johnson said.

The diner closed its dine-in space three days ago, following an order from the city government. A few days earlier, Johnson announced the diner would feed any students and community members, after local colleges and the public school system closed.

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. 

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

In many ways, Wednesday felt like spring break had already come to the University of Missouri in Columbia. Two days before the governor would issue a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, students were laying around on the quad, playing wiffle ball, taking dogs for walks; relaxing in the knowledge they wouldn’t have to worry about classes for the rest of the week.

That’s because the university canceled classes to give professors two days to prepare to move all their classes online, in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

At a press conference with Columbia Mayor Brian Treece Thursday, University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander Cartwright emphasized that no cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. 

He said the university is in communication with students who came back early from study abroad trips in Italy and South Korea, and the protocol for them is self-isolation. Cartwright also said the university is looking into teaching classes remotely in case an outbreak occurs.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While there have yet to be any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missouri, there have nonetheless been fears of what an outbreak would mean for the state. Lucio Bitoy, from Columbia and Boone County Public Health and Human Services says his department is on a weekly call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and advises people take the usual pre-cautions that they would to avoid the flu. 

In an email, the department said it had learned from the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 that its partnerships with community health providers and non-profits are important in responding to outbreaks, and that plans need to be fluid and adaptable to succeed. 

The Javorac / Flickr

The opioid crisis has driven states to look for ways of providing alternative treatments for chronic pain, to reduce people’s exposure to the potentially addictive pain-killers. Here in Missouri, the state’s Medicaid programs offer a range of alternatives, but their reach seems limited so far. Kaiser Health News Midwest Correspondent Lauren Weber has been covering the story and she sat down to talk about some of the reasons the state's efforts haven't yielded significant results. 

Can you work?

Feb 17, 2020
Provided by Gretchen Maune

“It already feels like when I get there and the application isn’t accessible online, that they didn’t want me in the first place.”

In this episode, Madi talks with her friend, Gretchen Maune about the difficulties and discrimination that can exist for people with disabilities when looking for employment – and how struggling to get appropriate accommodations can sometimes make figuring out how to accomplish something more difficult than the task itself.

Gretchen offers interesting insight into the topic of employment, as she went blind in her 20s and has been in the workforce both as a disabled employee and as an able-bodied worker.

Do you have friends like you?

Feb 8, 2020
Madison Lawson and friend Noelle Hazel sit next to each other for the first time in June of 2019, in New York City. These fashion forward friends met on Instagram years ago, and have since spent hours together, FaceTiming from across the country.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

“Social media allows people that can’t necessarily always leave their homes to be social.”

In this episode, Madi addresses the isolation that can come from being the only person you know with a disability, or at least your disability, and about how social media can play a role in allowing folks to connect across the county and world.

Madi speaks with two of her best friends, Kayleen and Noelle. She met both of these women through social media, even though they live states apart. Madi adds that she considers Noelle her little sister – together they navigate the confusing world of boys, friendship, fashion advice and the barriers that having a disability can create for them. While there might not be a manual on how to deal with these things, for now, they are just happy to have each other.

How can you be a journalist?

Jan 31, 2020
Jessie King

“If you were to take the disability out of the equation, would you still have a story?”

In this episode, Madi sits down with Mark Hinojosa. He is one of her former professors at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, but more importantly, is one of her best friends. Madi and Mark have had many long conversations because they have both chosen similar careers and are living through similar experiences – Madi, of course, has muscular dystrophy and Mark currently has “terminal, but treatable cancer.”

The two of them take a look at the world of media – both how people with disabilities are represented in the media and what it is like being a journalist with a disability working within the industry.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

On a cold and windy January morning in Boonville, Thomas Talent had driven close to an hour to Pinnacle Regional Hospital for an appointment. The only problem – the hospital closed suddenly the day before.

Talent didn’t find out until he saw a sign on the door saying, “This hospital and all of its services, including the emergency room, will close on Wednesday, if you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.”

"It’s a long drive for us and nobody let us know anything," Talent said. "I got ‘em on the phone and they said that they’ve closed down, didn’t say why."

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

Missouri Legislators on Tuesday held one of the only official hearings on Medicaid enrollment since a major drop left more than 90,000 children without coverage. 

Initially, officials attributed the low numbers to a strong economy. Department of Social Services officials now argue the dip in Medicaid enrollment is largely due to improved eligibility verification.

How do you travel?

Jan 24, 2020
Jessie King

“They Literally Left My Legs in Chicago.”      

Traveling with a disability is not always the easiest task. There are more barriers and logistics and things – like wheelchairs – can often turn up lost or broken.

In this episode, Madi and Becky discuss some of the experiences Madi has had with the airline industry, with ground transportation and more. And they take a look at how experiences like these impact the ability of those with disabilities to travel.

Why shouldn't I say 'lame'?

Jan 17, 2020
Aaron Hay / KBIA

Words Matter.

There are so many ways that language shapes our perception of others. In this episode, Madi and Becky sit down with Becky’s Dad, Dean Smith. He was a teacher and principal at a school for people ages 5 to 21 with severe cognitive and/or physical disabilities for many years.

They spoke about ableist language and the way that influences, both consciously and subconsciously, people’s view of those with disabilities and what they are capable of doing.

For those not familiar, ableist language is when a term that is associated with people with disabilities – things like the R-word, “lame,” or “crazy” – take on a negative and belittling meaning.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

Patients and former employees alike showed up to the Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville Thursday, a day after its abrupt closure.

Most doors to the hospital were locked, but the emergency room entrance was open for patients to collect medical records.

There were also representatives from Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia, looking to recruit former Pinnacle employees. Lisa Irwin, director of human resources for Bothwell, said they had spoken with some 20 former employees, and had already hired one. 

What's wrong with you?

Jan 10, 2020
Christopher Shannon stands alone on stage.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

“Pain may be my constant companion since the day I was born.” – Christopher Shannon

Since last season, Madi has found out that she is an ever “rare-er” breed of unicorn, as she got a newer and more correct diagnosis in 2019 that – for a while – shook her sense of identity. Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia / KBIA

On a chilly afternoon, Terry Cox had come to Mountain View, Missouri, to see a dentist and was waiting on a bench outside a converted rectory.

“Came to get a tooth check and see what they got to do to it," Cox said. "Maybe get ‘em all out."

The 56-year-old works in northern Arkansas, and drove an hour and a half to the Good Samaritan Care Clinic.