Sarah Fentem

Sarah Fentem reports on sickness and health as part of St. Louis Public Radio’s news team. She previously spent five years reporting for different NPR stations in Indiana, immersing herself deep, deep into an insurance policy beat from which she may never fully recover. A longitme NPR listener, she grew up hearing WQUB in Quincy, Illinois, which is now owned by STLPR. She lives in the Kingshighway Hills neighborhood, and in her spare time likes to watch old sitcoms, meticulously clean and organize her home and go on outdoor adventures with her fiancé Elliot. She has a cat, Lil Rock, and a dog, Ginger.

Pediatricians are urging families to take their children to the doctor’s office for routine vaccinations, even during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Parents have been postponing or canceling appointments for vaccines that prevent diseases such as measles or whooping cough, doctors said.

They warn that could create another wave of preventable diseases as schools and day cares reopen later this year.

“Some people are just super scared,” said Dr. Cassidy Leonard-Scott, a pediatrician at Hannibal Regional Medical Group. “We still really worry that we’re going to have an outbreak of one of these vaccine-preventable illnesses because people aren’t getting their vaccinations as they should.”

People in the St. Louis region are dying from preventable causes such as strokes or heart attacks because they’re afraid of contracting COVID-19 in emergency rooms, doctors said this week.

Patient volume in the region’s emergency rooms is down by as much as 50%, according to hospital officials at Barnes-Jewish, SSM Health and Mercy hospitals. Doctors want to ensure patients that they won't contract the coronavirus in the ER and should seek care if they need it.

Missouri is prepared for the coronavirus that is spreading across the U.S., health officials said Monday.

Gov. Mike Parson said state officials are working with federal and local health departments to track the disease it causes, COVID-19. He expects the federal government will soon distribute money to help the state provide free tests and make other preparations.

“Right now, our main focus is on educating the public on the virus and the steps to prevent it,” Parson said. “We are very well prepared to handle this virus should the need arise.”

People in rural areas have more unnecessary hospital visits and are more likely to die from chronic conditions than people in cities because they have little access to specialists, according to a study by St. Louis researchers.

Researchers from St. Louis University, Washington University and Harvard studied nationwide survey and claims data from thousands of Medicare patients with chronic conditions.

The top administrator at Missouri’s sole abortion provider testified during the last day of a hearing that state officials had become increasingly combatative in relations with the clinic during the past year.

Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services at Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services, said the change in relationship was proof the clinic’s inspectors were coming to the clinic with an agenda to find problems to prove the clinic was unsafe. 

“It seemed as if they didn’t understand their own regulations, as if they didn’t understand the womens’ anatomy,” she said. “Just asking questions that never made any sense … it was as if they had never inspected us at all.”