Category Archives: Health

GE startup designs a less painful blood test

Schenectady Gazette

Scientists in Niskayuna developed crucial part of collection device

Getting blood drawn for medical testing may become quicker, less painful and more informal with new technology being developed by a General Electric startup.

The device developed by Drawbridge Health is usable by untrained personnel, takes a tiny amount of blood from a skin prick and stabilizes it so it will keep for days at room temperature until it can reach the testing lab. It’s a technology that could one day be available for in-home use by patients.

Today’s widely used blood-draw procedures require a trained phlebotomist to puncture the patient’s vein and draw one or more vials of blood in a clinical setting, before sending the vials, which must be kept cool, to a lab.

The new technology involves GE at a number of levels:

GE Ventures in Boston came up with the idea for the product, then created Drawbridge to make it a reality, with development help from engineers and scientists at GE Global Research and GE Healthcare. Drawbridge is now privately held and independent, but GE remains an investor.

The Drawbridge team designed the device to do the mechanical work of extracting blood.

Global Research scientists in Niskayuna developed the paperlike matrix that absorbs the blood and stabilizes it for the potentially lengthy wait for testing.

The device is undergoing review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We expect to complete that process sometime next year,” said Risa Stack, who is managing director of new business creation for GE Ventures and also sits on Drawbridge’s board of directors.

Then the hard work begins: building market acceptance for the new device and capturing market share. Blood is drawn billions of times per year in the United States.

Drawbridge is talking to potential partners that already operate in the industry.

Stack has a long academic and professional background in the field but was born with one unique qualification for this project: a strong dislike of needles and a history of passing out during blood draws. She’ll often bring a book to distract herself when scheduled for a blood draw, and a candy bar to boost her blood sugar.

Drawbridge hasn’t named its device yet, nor released photos of it. But prototypes have been tested on volunteers including Stack, who found it noticeably less painful than the traditional venipuncture blood draw and also less painful than the fingertip-prick done for blood sugar monitoring.

The device withdraws less than a milliliter of blood. It can be used anywhere on the arm but is typically placed near the shoulder. Because it is not pulling blood from the vein, it does not require the skill of a phlebotomist, and it works well on patients with hard-to-find veins.

Making the blood tests easier, it is hoped, will allow for better tracking of medical conditions and response to therapy, saving time, money and even lives.

The Drawbridge device sends the blood into a cartridge, where the paperlike matrix stabilizes it within a few minutes. The cartridge is then removed for transport to a lab. The promise is that blood tests can be done on a more informal basis at more remote settings — and with less discomfort.

David Moore, a chemist who is the technology operations leader for the functional materials group at Global Research in Niskayuna, led the effort to develop the matrix.

It was essentially an adaptation of technology GE developed for the Life Sciences section of its Healthcare business. The collaborative nature of research efforts at Global Research allows for easy sharing of ideas and expertise across disciplines, technologies and businesses, Stack and Moore said.

Moore said the Drawbridge Health product gathers samples that can be tested in many ways, including for proteins, genetic material and biomarkers that would indicate a wide range of conditions and diseases.

“The possibilities are quite extensive,” he said, though the product is not envisioned as a forensic or substance-abuse test device at this point.

Stack said the device is part of a health care industry trend toward giving patients increased control over treatment and decreased time away from work or other activities for clinical settings.

Technology to allow quicker and/or easier blood tests has been in development and on the market for years. Many companies make finger-prick glucose testers for diabetes patients. Various apps allow smartphone-linked monitors to provide real-time blood-sugar data and, if needed, instructions or advice. Roche Diagnostics has a device that checks coagulents. CardioChek markets a cholesterol tester. Athelas is developing a device that does a 60-second check on cancer patients for an array of diseases. Silicon Valley startup Theranos has had a high-profile roller-coaster ride with its own finger-prick device that promised a battery of quick, inexpensive blood tests.

What makes Drawbridge different, GE Venutres said, is that the blood test is done in a traditional blood lab, with all the technology and infrastructure there, rather than in a portable consumer device.


MTA, New York health officials take aim at Zika transmission in subways

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast (left), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (center) and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker (right) place larvicide in an area of standing water at the Whitehall Street station in Manhattan.
Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York state health officials are implementing measures to prevent the transmission of the Zika virus in New York City’s subways, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday.

In cooperation with the MTA, the New York State Department of Health is deploying larvicide tablets in standing water inside the subway system to decrease the prevalence of potential breeding grounds for the albopictus mosquito, which is present in the state.

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Aedes albopictus is active in southeastern New York.

The mosquitoes lay eggs in or near water, and their offspring remain in the water before emerging as adults that fly and bite.

MTA and New York State health officials will target 36 priority locations to eliminate standing water in subways by increasing drainage and deploying larvicide as needed, according to a press release issued by Cuomo’s office.

“With 6 million daily subway customers, the MTA takes public health concerns just as seriously as our operational safety,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Prendergast.

About 13 million gallons of water enter the subway system daily through precipitation, groundwater intrusion and water used to clean platforms, Prendergast noted.

As a result, the serious threat of the Zika virus “makes it even more important to have clean, functioning drains, and adequate pump equipment, aggressive inspection and pumping schedules to remove standing water,” said Prendergast.

Health officials also will place traps to monitor the mosquito population and test and report the presence of the albopictus mosquito throughout the system.

To date, 537 confirmed cases of the Zika virus have been reported in New York. The vast majority of the cases were travel-related. Of confirmed cases, 414 were in New York City.

8 Things Exceptional Employees Hate (and Toxic Employees Love to Do)

The very worst employees don’t actually cause the biggest problems. Whether totally incompetent or unbelievably lazy, they’re easy to spot — so, although it’s never fun to fire anyone, at least you know there’s a problem and you can let that person go.

The biggest problems are caused by employees who appear to be doing a decent job but who in fact are slowly ruining the morale, attitude, and performance of other employees — and in the process, ruining your business as well.

What do they do?

1. They love to have the meeting after the meeting.

You have a meeting. Issues are raised. Concerns are shared. Decisions are made. Everyone in attendance fully support those decisions. Things are going to happen.

Then someone holds the “meeting after the meeting.” Now she talks about issues she didn’t share in the actual meeting. Now he disagrees with the decisions made in the actual meeting.

And sometimes those people even say to their teams, “Look, I think this is a terrible idea, but we’ve been told to do it, so I guess we need to give it a shot.” That means what was going to happen never will.

Waiting until after a meeting to say “I’m not going to support that” is like saying “I’ll agree to anything … but that doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it. I’ll even work against it.”

Those people need to work somewhere else.

2. They love to say, “That’s not my job.”

The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

Even if that means a manager has to help load a truck or a machinist needs to clean up a solvent spill; or the accounting staff needs to hit the shop floor to help complete a rush order; or a CEO needs to man a customer service line during a product crisis. (You get the idea.)

Any task an employee is asked to do — as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal, and it’s “below” his or her current position — is a task an employee should be willing to do. (Great employees notice problems and jump in without being asked.)

Saying “It’s not my job” says “I care only about me.” That attitude quickly destroys overall performance because it quickly turns what might have been a cohesive team into a dysfunctional group of individuals.

3. They love to act like they’ve already paid their dues.

An employee did great things last year, last month, or even yesterday. You’re appreciative. You’re grateful.

Still, today is a new day. Dues are never paid in full. Dues get paid. The only real measure of any employee’s value is the tangible contribution he or she makes on a daily basis.

Saying “I’ve paid my dues” is like saying “I no longer need to work as hard.” And suddenly, before you know it, other employees start to feel they’ve earned the right to coast too.

4. They love to think their experience is all that matters.

Experience is definitely important, but experience that doesn’t translate into better skills, better performance, and greater achievement is worthless. Experience that just “is” is a waste.

Example: A colleague once said to younger supervisors, “My role is to be a resource.” Great, but then he sat in his office all day waiting for us to come by so he could dispense his pearls of wisdom. Of course, none of us did stop by–we were all busy thinking, “I respect your experience, but I wish your role was to do your job.”

How many years you’ve put in pales in comparison with how many things you’ve done.

Saying “I have more experience” is like saying “I don’t need to justify my decisions or actions.” Experience (or position) should never win an argument. Wisdom, logic, and judgment should always win — regardless of in whom those qualities are found.

5. They love to gossip.

Before a meeting, some of us were talking about supervisors in another department when our new boss looked up and said, “Stop. From now on we will never say anything bad about anyone unless they are actually in the room. Period.”

Until then, I never thought of gossip as a part of a company’s culture — gossip just was. We all did it. And it sucked — especially because being the focus of gossip sucked. (And in time, I realized people who gossip suck too.)

If an employee has talked to more than one person about something Mark is doing, wouldn’t everyone be better off if he stepped up and actually talked to Mark about it? And if it’s “not his place” to talk to Mark, it’s definitely not his place to talk about Mark.

Saying “Did you hear what he did?” is like saying “I have nothing better to do than talk about other people.”

Not only do employees who create a culture of gossip waste time better spent on productive conversations, but they cause other people to respect their co-workers a little less–and anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated.

6. They love to use peer pressure to hold other employees back.

A new employee works hard. She works long hours. She’s hitting targets and exceeding expectations. She rocks. And she eventually hears, from a more “experienced” employee, “You’re working too hard and making the rest of us look bad.”

Where comparisons are concerned, a great employee doesn’t compare herself with others — she compares herself with herself. She wants to “win” that comparison by improving and doing better today than she did yesterday.

Poor employees don’t want to do more; they want others to do less. They don’t want to win. They just want others to make sure they don’t lose.

Saying, “You’re working too hard,” is like saying, “No one should work hard because I don’t want to work hard.” And pretty soon very few people do — and the ones who keep trying get shunned for a quality you need every employee to possess.

7. They love to grab the glory.

OK, maybe he did do nearly all the work. Maybe he did overcome almost every obstacle. Maybe, without him, that high-performing team would have been anything but.

Probably not. Nothing important is ever accomplished alone, even if some people love to act like it is.

A good employee and good team player shares the glory. He credits others. He praises. He appreciates. He lets others shine. That’s especially true for an employee in a leadership position–he celebrates the accomplishments of others secure in the knowledge that their success reflects well on him, too.

Saying “I did all the work” or “It was all my idea” is like saying “The world revolves around me, and I need everyone to know it.” And even if other people don’t adopt the same philosophy, they resent having to fight for recognition that is rightfully theirs.

8. And they love to throw others under the bus.

A vendor complains. A customer feels shortchanged. A co-worker gets mad. No matter what has happened, it’s someone else’s fault.

Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They willingly accept the criticism or abuse, because they know they can handle it (and they know that maybe the person actually at fault cannot).

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship. Few acts are more selfish than saying “It wasn’t me,” especially when, at least in part, it was.

Saying “You’ll have to talk to Martha” is like saying “We’re not all in this together.” At the best companies, everyone is in it together.

Anyone who isn’t needs to go.

 Jeff Haden

Contributing editor, Inc.


1 Question Is All You Need to Judge Someone’s Personality

If you want to better understand someone’s personality, there’s no shortage of options. Psychologists have developed various checklists and inventories to evaluate everything from whether someone is a card-carrying psychopath to a drama queen.

If you’re looking for a more holistic, research-backed approach, there are various tests of the so-called Big Five personality traits. Or you could always go with Myers Briggs, though be warned that despite its popularity in the business world, there’s no evidence it beats astrology at characterizing people.

All of these choices might be an insightful way to investigate your own character, but if you’re trying to get a handle on another person, they’re probably a little cumbersome. That new job candidate (or date) would probably look at you a little funny if you sent over an online narcissistic personality test. Is there a quick and dirty–but scientifically validated–way to assess if a given individual has a certain personality trait?

Yup, according to a study out of Wake Forest University recently highlighted on PsyBlog. If you want to know if someone displays a certain characteristic, just ask if he or she thinks other people often do.

Can one type of question reveal all?

To reach this conclusion, a team led by psychologist Dustin Wood asked study subjects (in this case that typical psychological guinea pig, the undergrad) to rate the personalities of several acquaintances. Their responses said much more about themselves than they probably intended.

The more frequently people rated others as kindhearted, happy, emotionally stable, or courteous, the more likely they were to rate themselves as having these traits, and the more likely outside evaluators were to agree. And the results remained stable even when the subjects were tested again a year later. “Seeing others positively reveals our own positive traits,” Wood commented.

The same thing worked for darker personality traits, too. Those with a Machiavellian streak, for instance, are more likely to see others as manipulative. “A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively,” Woods added. “The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.”

Besides being a fascinating glimpse into the weird and complex human mind, the findings also suggests a powerful hack for evaluating others people’s character–if you want to know if they themselves display a trait, just find a way to ask how common they think it is in others. The more of a quality they see around them, the more they probably possess themselves.

Jessica Stillman


10 Daily Habits That Will Radically Improve Your Life

Platitudes won’t help you. I know, I’ve tried to implement them all. They’re frustrating.

Go for it! Live for today! Stay motivated!

No kidding.

I’m more interested in how we can radically improve our lives.  How can we stay truly motivated? How can we maintain hyper-efficiencies?  How can we stay happy at work? How can we find true fulfillment by cultivating the most attractive aspects of your personality?

Here are ten unexpected things you can do daily to radically improve your life:

1. Don’t obsess over “how” you’ll do something.

Four years ago when I launched my agency Silverback Social, I just did it. I knew that I wanted to create a digital agency that led with social media. I had no idea how I was going to do it.

2. Invest in clothes that fit.  Yes, seriously.

My dress shirts, and suits are all custom made. This isn’t as extravagant as it sounds. You can order custom clothing for about the same cost as off the rack clothes from Banana Republic. You just have to be patient for the clothes to get delivered after you’ve been measured.

3. Meditate

Meditation can reduce stress, improve your concentration and increase happiness. But you don’t have to sell all your worldly possessions and live in a cave to meditate. Meditation can be anything.

When you’re washing your hands today. Slow down and really think about how you’re washing your hands. Feel the sensation of the water. Smell the aroma of the soap. Enjoy it. You’re meditating!

Realize that your thoughts and feeling aren’t you. Acknowledging that you’re having a thought is a powerful way to separate yourself from the thought. I recommend HeadSpace APP to help.

4. Buy a stand up desk.

We’ve all read the news and heard the grumbling of how bad sitting down all day can be for us. It’s worse than smoking etc.  I do think that my new stand up desk can be a healthy alternative.

I’m also smart enough to know that you can overdo anything. US News Health says that there are some ways in which stand up desks can do more harm than good.

The gist? Don’t stand still all day long. Alternate positions throughout the day. Also, some tasks are more well suited for sitting.

5. Shut off electronics for short increments.

I worry about the effect of electronic devices on my children. The best way that I’ve been able to remove this concern is to carve out play time without any devices around. This means that I leave my iPhone behind as well.

My girls are eight and five.  My five year old decided to try golfing with me recently. She loved it. Just the two of us, with my undivided and undistracted presence.

I felt my self reflectively reaching for my iPhone to take photos of her golfing.

6. Get up early.

I hate the morning. Really, I do. So much so that on my wedding day, my brother referenced my inability to wake up to an alarm clock in his best man speech. The crowd erupted in laughter.  Super.

7. Read more.

Reading can help improve problem solving, expand your vocabulary, and even cultivate exposure to different ways of thinking. If you really feel that you don’t have time to read, I recommend you try Audible for a free 30 Day Trial and listen to audiobooks.

8. Live in a different city at least once in your life.

When I was twenty years old,  I studied in Leuven, Belgium, and traveled to 14 different countries. That travel allowed me to grow in ways that I can’t quantify. I was able to find my way around an airport, train station, and bus terminal without incident. I ate different foods, and experienced different religions.

9. Write.

Sharing your thoughts is a powerful connector. Start with a blog, or create on LinkedIn or Medium. I wrote my first blog post and earned $260,000. I also used writing to help me get the attention of new clients, new jobs, and my television career.

Write every day and share what you know. Learn how to write better along the way. If you don’t want to share your thoughts with the world, start a journal.

I began a journal when I was nineteen and traveling through Europe. Now I read my entries to my daughters as bedtime stories.

10. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

I’m an over sharer extraordinaire. To some people it’s an turn off. Guess what? I don’t want to associate with those people. It’s the way I’m wired, and I’m not about to change because it makes you uncomfortable.

I blog about everything from my family, to my friend who was murdered. Vulnerability in life and business cultivates trust.

No pretense, just you –  unfiltered.  Try it. I dare you.


By Chris Dessi

CEO, Silverback Social

March Against Monsanto Happening Everywhere May 21

hy do we march?

Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects. In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-lead research on the long-term effects of GMO products. Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.

For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup. Monsanto’s GMO seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have caused colony collapse among the world’s bee population.

What are solutions we advocate for?

Vote with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto owned companies that use GMOs in their products. Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier. Repealing relevant provisions of the US’s “Monsanto Protection Act.” Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs. Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc. Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets. Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly. We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.

Please click here to find an event near you.

By NationofChange

Longevity Inequality Is Increasing: The Rich Get Older, the Poor Die Younger

New research from the Brookings Institute shows that gains in longevity have been unequal between the rich and poor over the past three decades.


hile it’s no surprise to researchers that the rich live longer than the poor, the life expectancy gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States is widening alongside income inequality, according to new research from the Brookings Institute.

“There’s nothing particularly mysterious about the life expectancy gap,” Gary Burtless, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and one of the researchers in the study, wrote in an Los Angeles Times opinion piece, arguing that the growing life expectancy gap points to the urgent need to address questions around access to U.S. social security.

“People in ill health, who are at risk of dying relatively young, face limits on the kind and amount of work they can do,” Burtless explained. “By contrast, the rich can afford to live in better and safer neighborhoods, can eat more nutritious diets and can obtain access to first-rate health care.”

According to the study, the life expectancy gap between the bottom and top 10 percent of income earners increased from three and a half to 10 years for women and five to 12 years for men between 1970 and 1990.

“Recent gains in life expectancy have tended to favor men and women who have high lifetime earnings or other indicators of economic and social advantage,” reads the report.

Burtless argued that proposals to address funding shortages in U.S. social security would disadvantage low-wage workers by extending working years longer and closer to their life expectancy, while high-income earners would still have the benefit of longevity.

Those who recognize longevity inequality argue that the poor shouldn’t have to work their whole lives so the rich can play in their old age, enjoying the fruits of working-class labor through their pensions as they live out their longer life expectancy.

“The disparity in wages during the working years leads to greater differences in pensions and other forms of wealth accumulation for retirement,” the report reads.

According to U.N. population data, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 79 years, or 76.5 years for men and 81 years for women.

NYTimes paints picture of Amtrak derailment engineer Brandon Bostian

Eight months after Amtrak 188 derailed in Philadelphia, claiming the lives of eight people and injuring hundreds of others, a piece on the deadly crash in the New York Times is shedding light on the “worst American rail disaster in decades” and the engineer who was at the helm when the speeding train left the tracks.

In the weeks that followed the May 12, 2015 derailment, investigators worked to determine if Brandon Bostian was using his cell phone when the train came barreling into Frankford Junction. Concluding the cell was not used at the time of the crash, authorities have yet to rule on the cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which has yet to discuss its finding publicly, will likely say “the key to the wreck is something investigators call ‘lost situational awareness,'” according to the New York Times report.
The in-depth piece suggests Bostian, who had only recently switched to the route, confused Frankford Junction with a previous, and less dramatic, curve and may have been distracted by a rock thrown at the train.
The media still hasn’t gotten it that this crash could have been prevented using existing technology from the Pennsy Railroad which is still in use on the NEC. The in-cab signaling in the locomotive was capable of stopping the train for speeding. The tracks next to this train had the signals for it, the tracks the train was on that crashed did not. The FRA ordered the signalling be restored on all tracks before it allowed Amtrak to restore service. While the media is ignoring this, the lawyers bringing lawsuits for the victims of this crash against Amtrak are very aware of this old technology.

Mother’s Market & Kitchen Expansion

Editors Note: WholeFoods Magazine recently reported on a new partnership between Mother’s Market & Kitchen and Mill Road Capital investment firm. Our very own merchandising editor Jay Jacobowitz provides some insight on the potential of this new partnership and what it means for the supernatural retail space.

This is a significant event in the natural organic products retail space. Costa Mesa, California-based Mother’s Market & Kitchen, founded in 1978, and now with seven supermarket-size locations in Southern California, possesses some of the most valuable real estate in the nation. By this I mean household quality and demand potential for natural organic products is extremely high; among the best in the country according to our Retail Insights’ Retail Universe for Natural, Organic Food, Supplement and Personal Care Sales database. In addition, the stores are first-rate operations, with excellent food service offerings, dynamic merchandising, beautiful facilities, and the highest ingredient standards in the industry.

Coupling with Greenwich, Connecticut-based Mill Road Capital (MRC) should be a wake-up call for all supernatural competitors. MRC Senior Managing Director, Thomas Lynch, handled the private equity business for Blackstone Group, which manages over $300 billion in investor funds. Lynch has borrowed a page from Blackstone, locking up investor capital for 10 years; a requirement of investing with Blackstone and MRC. By doing so, MRC can take the long view with its investment portfolio, allowing it to mature companies at their own intrinsic growth rates, and inoculating them from transient external factors, such as economic shocks or sector slowdowns.

Certainly, Mother’s Market could have attracted private equity capital long ago, in the 1990s for example, as Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market was executing its “roll-up” strategy of buying the most significant supernatural competitors around the country. But Mother’s Market did not take this route, content instead to focus on its regional trade area and build an unequaled brand identity of superior quality.

I predict the acquisition by MRC signals management intends to continue to pursue the long game, waiting patiently for ideal real estate before signing leases, and being careful to maintain reasonable proximities between stores to maximize distribution efficiencies. The growth plan may resemble the Cheesecake Factory, which chooses its real estate extremely carefully, only opening stores with optimal locations, and never settling for suboptimal real estate. I suspect Mother’s Market & Kitchen will do something similar as it builds out from its Southern California base.

St. Louis agency studying the feasibility of health clinics at MetroLink stations


And St Louis is not BIG

Hope others catch on

U.S. transit agencies are always on the lookout for new amenities or services that will help make passengers’ daily commutes more convenient and comfortable — from free WiFi to bicycle-repair kiosks to coffee carts and food vendors.

Photo credit: Metro Transit-St. Louis

But in St. Louis, the parent company of Metro Transit is thinking along different lines: health care services. The Bi-State Development‘s research arm is looking into the possibility of opening clinics that would offer services such as basic  medical care, dental checkups and eye exams.

Late last year, the Bi-State Development Research Institute received a $41,900 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to study the feasibility of opening health clinics at some MetroLink train stations. The locations likely would be in North St. Louis County to help address the “growing need for quality clinics” in certain areas in the St. Louis region, according to a Missouri Foundation press release.

A 2011 assessment of the community’s health needs conducted by the St. Louis County Health Department found that North St. Louis County residents had less access to health care services and faced higher barriers associated with health care costs. When in need of care, 57 percent were more likely than other St. Louis County residents to use an emergency room for primary care.

“The lack of access and gaps in service have also led to a high level of hospital admissions for preventable conditions and higher costs for medical providers,” Missouri Foundation for Health officials said in announcing the Bi-State grant.

The study is evaluating issues to consider as part of a business plan for establishing basic medical services at a MetroLink rail station or, perhaps, a Metro bus transfer site, says John Wagner, project manager for economic development at the Bi-State Development Research Institute.

“The business plan would address the issues that a hospital or health care facility would need to know if they wanted to do something like this,” says Wagner, who is overseeing the study.

The research team is considering potential sites and whether services would entail a “bricks-and-mortar” facility or space for a mobile unit. Potential services offered could range from basic primary medical care, to dental care, to eye exams and pharmacy. Wagner anticipates the study will be wrapped up in May.

John Wagner
John Wagner

To be considered a potential clinic site, a station would need excess space available for development, and would be located in neighborhoods where residents depend on public transportation. Locations likely would be situated along the Red Line in North St. Louis County, according to Wagner.

Wagner envisions passengers using a clinic at a MetroLink station before or after work, or during their lunch hour — in other words, at times that are convenient for working adults.

“We want to locate the clinics closest to where the transit riders are going to be,” he says.

Currently, only one MetroLink station is located next to a major health care provider in St. Louis: The Central West End Station is near the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and BJC Hospital.

“Central West End is the busiest station,” Wagner says. “A lot of the hospital employees use it.”

Lack of access to transportation is a common barrier to many low-income patients getting the care they need, says Rob Fruend, chief executive officer of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, a nonprofit group of local and state health providers that work together to improve the health of uninsured and underinsured residents of St. Louis city and county.

The St. Louis region has several community health centers that serve patients regardless of their ability to pay. The problem is that for some patients — especially those who don’t have a car — getting to those clinics can be a challenge.

“We have a pretty good transportation system in St. Louis, but it doesn’t go where everyone needs to go,” says Fruend. “Especially for low-income folks who rely on transit, sometimes it takes a long time to get from point A to point B.”

Locating a health clinic at a train station could be good for patients and passengers alike depending on who is selected to run the clinic, and whether that provider is electronically linked with the patients’ regular doctors, Fruend says.

“One of the things we [the health commission] think about is the concept of continuity of care,” says Fruend, adding that the concept means patients have a “medical home” — or a regular primary care provider who knows and tracks the patients’ medical histories.

“Hopefully people will not be getting their routine medical care from a train stop,” says Fruend. “But if it’s done in partnership with patients’ medical homes, opening these clinics could be an excellent idea.”

As far as Wagner can tell, Metro Transit would be the first transit agency in the nation to initiate the opening of a health clinic on rail-station property. The Bi-State Development Agency wouldn’t be involved in operating the clinics. But as part of the study, Wagner intends to speak with local health care providers to gauge their interest.

“One way to look at this is that we’re taking care of the business plan ahead of time so that a health care provider can look at our study and say, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to do this?’ “

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