Bram Sable-Smith

Reporter, KBIA

Bram Sable-Smith is a reporter with Side Effects and lead reporter on the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. A native Missourian, he’s documented mbira musicians in Zimbabwe, mining protests in Chile, and a lobstering union in Maine. His reporting from Ferguson, Missouri was honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and won a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Bram cut his radio chops at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.

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Seth Herald/for NPR

Charlie Oen's battle with addiction started when he was 16 and his family moved to Lima, Ohio. It was the last stop in a string of moves his military family made — from Panama to North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and Germany.


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Every morning Pat Wilson walks down the hall from her office in the Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Education Center through the gym and into a part of the building not typically associated with a school nurse: the kitchen.

There, she checks a list—posted on the side of the stainless steel refrigerator—of all the students in the school with a food allergy.

“It’s constantly being updated,” Wilson says.

For the first time in her life, 26-year-old freelance designer Susannah Lohr had to shop for health insurance this year.

She called up a major insurer in the St. Louis area where she lives and they offered her a plan with a hefty $6,000 deductible—that’s the amount she’d have to cover herself before the insurance kicks in.


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Deana Kilpatrick smoked crack for the first time when she was 13 years old. “From there,” she says, “I really just spiraled down hill.”

For the next 30 years, drugs and alcohol were part of her life. Then last November, at the age of 43, she moved to Branson, Missouri looking for a new start. It was going pretty well until loneliness drove her to relapse a few months ago. She got a fourth DWI and faced up to four years in jail.

Every year, the US Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administer the National Health Interview Survey to help track the health of the various demographic groups that make up the county's population. But it wasn’t until 2013 that the survey included questions about sexual orientation.

One finding that emerged was that lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to be obese than their heterosexual counterparts. Jane McElroy, associate professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the first to publish research on interventions to specifically address the issue. Her study was published in the current issue of Women’s Health Issues, and she came by the KBIA studios to discuss her findings.


...j e r e m y... / flickr

On a rainy Tuesday morning in May, social worker Meghan Bragers drove up to Ferguson, Mo. to visit a 23-year-old expectant mother named Marie Anderson.

Anderson, who was 33 weeks pregnant at the time, was having a particularly difficult pregnancy.

“She’s been in a car accident, her car has been totaled, she’s having back issues, she’s having increased depressive symptoms,” Bragers said en route to the visit. “Things have gotten pretty difficult.”

Difficult, or as Anderson herself called it, “a tornado.”


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Earlier this year, 69-year-old Aneita McCloskey needed her two front teeth filed down and capped.

“They were kind of worn down and they were also getting little tears and cavities,” she recalls.

Without dental insurance, McCloskey is on the hook for the full $2,400 cost of the procedure. She was given 18 months to pay it before she gets charged interest. That’ll be hard to do on her fixed income.

In years past she would have had to wait to see the dentist again until she could afford it.

Audio Pending...

One year ago, while reporting on infant mortality rates in Kennett, Missouri, I met a 27-year-old expectant mother named Marylouisa Cantu. She was pregnant with her seventh child.

Her sixth child, a daughter named Alyssa, was born two years earlier and had spent two weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit due to complications from premature birth.


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

At Richard Logan’s pharmacy in Charleston, Missouri, prescription opioid painkillers are locked away in a cabinet. Missouri law requires pharmacies to keep schedule II controlled substances—drugs like oxycodone and fentanyl with a high addiction potential—locked up at all times.

Logan doesn’t stop at what the law requires.


The rise in opioid drug abuse and gun violence have led to recent calls to overhaul the nation’s mental health care system. But a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2014 is already driving a big new experiment in mental health care.  

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