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Updated: 2 hours 48 min ago

Contact KY3 Investigates: Why ER wait times are so long

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:27pm

Heart attacks and life-threatening injuries are treated first in emergency rooms.  In less urgent cases, patients can wait for hours. 

When Alison Zoland went to an ER two years ago, however, her case didn't feel "less urgent."

"It was from here to here," Zoland said recently, describing the extent of her injuries.

Zoland still has marks from that day.

"It was nasty; it was to the bone.  You could see my tendons; you could see my ribs; you could see everything," she said.

Zoland says she nearly died in a motorcycle accident.

"We were going about 100 - 120, somewhere in between there.  I double tapped him and, as he downshifted, I let go and the wind just caught me and I flew off.  I literally slid a football field," she said.

She was rushed to an emergency room.

"I was in pain, but I wanted it cleaned.  That was my main thing, because I didn't want an infection," she said.  "There was not even 10 people in that waiting room.  So why did it take two or three hours to get to me?"

Candace McClain's experience also didn't seem "less urgent" to her.

"He would just stop breathing for a few seconds," said McClain.

McClain says she held her (then) 4-month-old son, Weston, as he struggled to breathe.

"We were very frustrated.  Our little baby, who has only been out of the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for two months or so, is not being seen for issues that he was in there for," she said.

Those very different stories are linked by the same question: Why the wait?

"We need to prioritize them based on the severity of their illness or their injury," said Dr. Jeff Willis, director of Mercy Springfield's Emergency Room.

"We have patients coming through the back door.  We have helicopters landing on the roof," said Stacey Helton, assistant director of the Cox South's Emergency Room.

Patients with other emergencies wait -- sometimes for hours.  Data compiled by a journalism watchdog group, Propublica, finds, if you go to Mercy Springfield's Emergency Room, you'll likely wait 16 minutes before you see a nurse.  If you go to Cox South's Emergency Room, you'll likely wait 27 minutes.  You can expect your entire visit to take more than three hours, if you go home at the end of it.

"The rate of emergency department visits has increased at about twice the rate of the population in the U.S.   Quite frankly, patients are getting older. They're getting sicker and the need for emergency care is increasing in those patients," said Willis.

"We are still operating on the same size, so we are quite limited, I think.  I think we can meet any demand that's thrown at us," said Helton.

Both hospitals have triage and pretreatment rooms.  Patients get checked in quicker and see a doctor sooner.  Both hospitals have added nurses.

"You may see the nurse just standing there appearing to do nothing but, if a car pulls into the driveway and honks the horn and someone is not breathing, you want that person to meet that patient and pull them in quickly," said Helton.

Contact KY3 wanted to know who these patients are and why they come to the emergency room.

Even with the health insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act, more than a quarter of Mercy and Cox South ER patients do not have a primary care doctor.  At Cox North, half of the ER patients do not have a primary care doctor.

"Lots of times we have people call and ask how busy the ER is.  If you are able to call and ask that question, you probably could be seen elsewhere," said Helton.

The most common symptoms for ER visits include abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, back pain and pneumonia.

To try to slash wait times, new walk-in clinics have opened throughout Springfield. Mercy is moving and expanding its Urgent Care clinics this month.  These expansions are designed to provide immediate care for non- life threatening cases. Health care workers say, if more people use these new resources, they might spend less time in an ER.

Interactive ER wait time map

Neighbor's worry about child who lives in Greene Co. home where murder occured

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:15pm

A woman is dead and a man, behind bars, suspected of killing her. Greene County Deputies found the woman, dead from apparent gunshot wounds, during a check-well being call this afternoon. The crime will have long-lasting effects in the community. Nellie Thurman and her husband Don have grown quite fond of the six-year-old girl growing up across the street from them. "She talks like a grownup, she just can carry a conversation with you about almost anything," says Thurman. The girl went to school at Fair Grove. Monday morning sheriff's deputies responded to her home and found a 26-year-old woman dead. "Fair Grove School was locked down for a short time just for safety reasons, there was no danger to the kids at that time," says Cpt. Kenny Weatherford with the Greene County Sheriff's Office. The suspect, a 37-year-old man, was arrested a short time later at a Springfield Walmart.

Nellie and Don Thurman say that man was the little girl's father; now they just worry about her future. "It may take a while and counseling and everything but she's very, very smart and I think she'll be OK in time," says Thurman.

The coroner has scheduled an autopsy for Tuesday. As soon as sheriff's deputies can get a search warrant they say they will search another residence on the property for more evidence.

Missouri taxi companies say proposals too easy on Uber, Lyft

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:51pm

Uber and Lyft say they welcome the regulations on app-based car services that have been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly.

But taxi companies and some local regulators told a House panel Tuesday the proposed legislation allows ride-sharing companies to duck some of the most expensive rules on the industry, creating a system that puts traditional companies at a disadvantage.

Proposed regulations would require ride-hailing companies to pay a $5,000 registration fee to the Department of Revenue, ensure their drivers have insurance and conduct a background check.

Representatives for Uber and Lyft said their business model is designed to attract part-time drivers, so the burden of regulations should be on the ride-hailing companies, not their drivers.

Critics argued the state shouldn't let those companies police themselves.

Missouri Senate debates repealing death penalty

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:40pm

The Republican-led Missouri Senate for the first time in years debated a bill to repeal the state's death penalty, though the measure is unlikely to advance.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers to implored their colleagues Monday to end capital punishment.  Missouri has executed 18 killers in the last two years.

Republican Sen. Paul Wieland of Imperial, who is Catholic, introduced the measure. He opposes both abortion and the death penalty.

Others who testified in support cited people on death row who were later exonerated. Some argued black defendants are disproportionately sentenced to death.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican running for attorney general, opposed it. He says killers sentenced to death commit the most egregious crimes.

Wieland says he doesn't think the bill has enough support to pass the Senate and doesn't plan to bring it up again.

Arkansas highway leaders trying to reduce wrong-way crashes

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:08pm

Arkansas highway officials have initiated $2.8 million in improvements with a focus on reducing wrong-way crashes on the state freeway system. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the effort is designed to address the problem of motorists entering freeways in the wrong direction. The changes include replacing more than 4,000 "wrong way," ''do not enter" and "one way" signs at exit ramps with brighter sheeting and installing them at a lower height. The department also plans to put down more noticeable pavement directions and add reflectors on off-ramps that indicate the driver is going in the wrong direction. Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says that between 2009 and 2013, there were 64 crashes of vehicles going the wrong way, including 13 that resulted in 20 people killed.

Man accused of shooting Officer Aaron Pearson appears in court

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:57pm

The man accused of shooting Springfield police officer Aaron Pearson appeared in court Monday afternoon. Joshua Hagood has pleaded not guilty to the crime. On Monday, his attorney said some evidence was taken illegally from him.  Ky3's Jehan Sheikh was in the courtroom. Sheikh says members on both sides of this case were in the court room.

The grandparents of Joshua Hagood were there. When Hagood entered the courtroom, you could hear his grandma say "Oh, there he is."   Officer Aaron Pearson's wife Amanda, was also there with her father, former Springfield Officer Tom Dempsey. Sheikh reported Amanda tensed up when Hagood walked in...sitting feet away from the man charged with shooting her husband in the head last January.

Hagood's attorney told the court Hagood shouldn't have been arrested at all; that there should have been consent or warning before collecting gunshot residue and his fingerprints. Seven witnesses took the stand, all with the Police Department. One officer testified he found an empty gun holster on Hagood's right foot. The defense attorney asked the court to throw out that evidence as well as the video taped interviews with Hagood following his arrest.   There is no trial date yet, but another hearing is scheduled for next week. Hagood's Grandma Ky3's Jehan Sheikh off-camera her grandson didn't set out to injure or kill an officer....and she said she's happy to see Officer Pearson making such a remarkable recovery.

Flurries and brutal wind chills

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:44pm

A brief round of winter cold and flurries will affect the Ozarks on Tuesday. Find out how long this will last by watching the weather.

Fort Wood area prepared for military job cuts, Waynesville says can rebound after soldiers leave

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:25pm

When the federal government started shrinking the U.S. military-- there were concerns that meant 5-thousand soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood. But the area is now grateful re-assignments will include just over 700 MPs.

As a local banker, Mike Dunbar lives his life crunching numbers, and despite the cuts, he says Fort Leonard Wood and Waynesville's numbers still look good.

"Of course we're going to feel the impact some, but that's part of what happens with the ups and downs of the military," said Dunbar.

Late last week, we learned 740 Fort Leonard Wood soldiers will be inactivated this year-- most of them will move out of the area.

"Basically, the United States says it needs a smaller force, so the Army has got to right-size that force and it goes through a process every year. It looks at its end strength to see where its numbers need to be and as part of that process, it's been determined to go from 490,000 on active duty down to 450,000 on active duty," explained Battalion Commander Chad Goyette.

For Fort Wood that means the 92nd Military Police Battalion is soon to be no more. It's 740 members make up about 12-percent of Fort Wood's permanently assigned military personnel.

Community members will feel the absence, but they've been preparing the path to take.

"We've been emphasizing our I-44 corridor, our downtown is doing well, we have a lot of new businesses downtown," said Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman.

The city says anytime you get news of cuts, there is a moment of concern, but they say what they look at is the infrastructure, and over the last two years, there have still been about 2 dozen new businesses willing to invest here.

"Buffalo Wild Wings, Maurices, Cato, different restaurants coming here. They're still building here, they are still investing here. Our apartment and duplex rentals are doing exceptionally well," Dunbar said. "You look at Phelps County Regional Medical Center-- they just built a 26-million dollar facility."

The area around Fort Wood is now trusting that a weakness in one area will be covered by new strength in another. 

Gas prices continue to fall, but why?

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:24pm

Gasoline prices are much lower than they have been in a long time.  Drivers are filling up for about half the price they were just a few months ago, and loving the lower gas bills.  "Yeah, they're really good," says Spencer Johns. "I know they've decreased significantly all around, not just at certain gas stations like the ones that are usually cheaper," says Deseray Helton. Missouri Gas shows the lowest average gas price in the state in the last ten years was $1.38 in 2008, during the recession.  The state average now is about $1.42, but it's much lower here in Springfield, around $1.25. Helton says, "It's nice, you can go places and not have to worry about it so much now." "I'm in between jobs right now, so it's actually a really good thing to get to class, because I commute from Ozark," says Johns.

Missouri State University economics professor Dr. Reed Olsen says technological advances in oil production here at home are a big reason for the lower prices.  They've brought an increased supply.  "That's probably the biggest reason why prices have gone down, but we've been doing the fracking thing for a long time now," Olsen says. Dr. Olsen says another influence may be increased supply from other parts of the world and the fact that OPEC has not cut production.  Olsens says, "Perhaps because they're trying to drive the fracking business out of business, at least I've seen that suggested." He says it may also be because some countries, like China, are facing economic slowdowns and using less oil.  But what does it mean for our economy?  "It's kind of a mixed bag, as true for prices in general, good for consumers, bad for producers," says Olsen. It's definitely something college students hope will last.  "I hope so.  I think it will, but we'll find out," says Johns.

Olsen says, "I think the prediction is it's probably going to stay that way for a while; not forever.  And if we collectively decide that we're going to continue to move away from oil, or fossil fuels, then you can kind of expect that is going to continue."

MU School of Medicine names leader for new Springfield campus

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:14pm

The University of Missouri School of Medicine appointed Dr. Andrew Evans as associate dean and chief academic officer for its new clinical campus in Springfield.  Evans also will have the title of associate professor of clinical medicine.  His appointment is effective next Monday.

MU is expanding its medical school class size from 96 to 128 students to address a critical shortage of physicians in Missouri and the nation.  As part of the expansion, the medical school, in partnership with CoxHealth and Mercy health systems, will open a second MU clinical campus in Springfield this year and a new medical education building in Columbia in 2017.

Evans, a hospitalist at Mercy Clinic Springfield since 2003, is board-certified in internal medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a senior fellow of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

As associate dean for the Springfield clinical campus, he will engage Columbia and Springfield leaders to provide strategic direction and vision. He also will ensure the educational programs in Springfield aligns with and supports high quality, effective patient-centered care.

Evans has been an active member of the medical staff in all three health systems involved with the MU medical school expansion.  He also has held administrative positions in all three organizations.  Evans had a prior faculty appointment at the MU School of Medicine from 2001 to 2003.

“Dr. Evans is an excellent teacher, clinician and administrator who has been actively involved since 2011 as a member of the management group for the medical school’s Springfield campus expansion,” said Dr. James Stannard, interim dean of the School of Medicine.  “His passion for medical education, proven track record of administrative and leadership abilities, and his extensive relationships with Springfield and Columbia stakeholders will be invaluable as we expand the MU School of Medicine to educate more doctors for Missouri.”

Evans received his medical degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and completed a residency in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and philosophy, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree, from Drury University in Springfield.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for the future of medical education in the state of Missouri,” Evans said. “I’m looking forward to working with CoxHealth, Mercy and MU to expand exceptional educational opportunities for future physicians.”

Pictures: Home of murder suspect Craig Wood demolished for garden

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 6:01pm

Demolition crews have knocked down the last of this Springfield crime scene.

This is the house where Hailey Owens was found killed in 2014.  It will soon become a community garden in the girl's honor.  The home, built in the 1940's contained asbestos.  Craig Wood lived in the house.  He will stand trial later this year for Hailey Owens death.   Pictures courtesy Mason Seidel. 

Detectives investigate homicide near Fair Grove; suspect is arrested

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:40pm

Greene County sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting death of a 26-year-old woman at a home southwest of Fair Grove.  Deputies say she had a gunshot wound to her head.

The shooting was at a home in the 4600 block of East Farm Road 48 between Shelby Road on the west and U.S. 65 on the east.  Someone notified the sheriff's department about the shooting just before 1 p.m. Monday. 

Officers believe a man drove away from the home toward U.S. 65.  in a black 2002 Hyundi Elantra.  They put out a bulletin to other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for that vehicle. 

Springfield police and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers arrested a 37-year-old man in that vehicle in east Springfield about 2:45.  The car was parked in front of the Walmart Neighborhood Market on South Glenstone Avenue just north of Bennett Street.  The arrest was "without incident," according to a news release from the sheriff's spokeswoman.  A tow truck took the car away so it could be processed for potential evidence.

A child who lives in the home may attend a Fair Grove school.  Administrators locked down the schools as a precaution immediately after the homicide was discovered.

"We are still in the very early stages of this investigation. Thanks to the quick action and good teamwork by our deputies, MSHP troopers and Springfield police officers, we were all able to apprehend the suspect in this case," Sheriff Jim Arnott said in a news release.  "At this time, this appears to be an isolated incident with no further danger or threat to our community."

Prankster in Mountain Grove tainted drinking water of rival basketball team

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:55pm

The Mountain Grove School District is investigating a prank at a girls high school basketball game last Thursday evening.  Someone put a foreign substance in the water cooler of the Houston team during its game at Mountain Grove.

Mountain Grove School District assistant superintendent Tom Johns says a sample of the water was sent to a state Health Department lab to try to determine what the substance was.   Johns says it may have been water from a whirlpool tub.

Johns says the school notified the Mountain Grove Police Department and is cooperating with the Houston School District.  He hasn’t heard that anyone on the Houston team got sick.

Johns says he can’t say how the Mountain Grove School District learned of the prank, or whether investigators have identified the person who was responsible.

Pictures: Police in Springfield make arrest tied to homicide investigation in Fair Grove

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:30pm

Police in Springfield made an arrest that is tied to a homicide investigation southwest of Fair Grove on Monday afternoon.  That suspect was arrested without incident at a Walmart Neighborhood Market parking lot in east Springfield.   Greene County sheriff's detectives say they found a woman, 26, dead of an apparent gunshot wound to her head on East Farm Road 48 between Shelby Road and and U.S. 65.

Porn actress drops $500,000 assault lawsuit against Josh Duggar

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 4:04pm

A porn actress has dropped her $500,000 assault lawsuit against reality TV personality Josh Duggar amid evidence that her claims were fabricated.

Duggar's lawyer calls the accusations in Ashley Stamm-Northup's lawsuit "entirely fictitious."

Stamm-Northup is a San Diego woman known as Danica Dillon in adult films.  Her lawsuit says that she met Duggar while working at a Philadelphia strip club last spring and that Duggar assaulted her when they went to a hotel to have sex.

Evidence shows Duggar wasn't in Philadelphia at the time.

His family's wholesome reality TV show, "19 Kids and Counting," was pulled from the TLC network in May over revelations that he had molested four sisters and a baby sitter.

He has apologized for having a pornography addiction and for cheating on his wife.

Missouri House again debates prescription drug database

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 3:29pm

A state lawmaker again is pushing for a program that would track prescription drugs and let doctors and pharmacists know when similar prescriptions for potentially addictive drugs have been filled.  Every other state has a prescription drug monitoring program that is available to physicians who prescribe drugs and pharmacists who fill drug orders.

The bill by Rep. Holly Rehder, R - Sikeston, is on the House debate calendar this week. Part of its goal is to stop abuse by so-called doctor shoppers trying to resell the drugs or feed their own addictions.

Similar measures have failed for more than a decade in Missouri's General Assembly because of privacy concerns, especially by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R - St. Joseph, who wants voters to approve such a program.   Schaaf believes doctors and pharmacists would gossip about what drugs their friends and neighbors are prescribed.  Proponents of the database say it would just be an extension of electronic medical records that already are available to physicians who treat patients.  If it makes it out of the House, Rehder's bill likely will run into Schaaf's roadblock again.

The proposed prescription drug monitoring program has the backing of Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill this year.  A U.S. Senate committee that she heads held a hearing in Jefferson City to try to call attention to the increasing number of cases of people being addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin.    

Pictures: Greene County detectives work death investigation near Fair Grove

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 2:28pm

Greene County investigators confirm to KY3 News they are working a death investigation.

The body was found at a home near Fair Grove.  Deputies responded to the home around 1:00 p.m. Monday.  

We are waiting for more information from sheriff's detectives.  Stay tuned to KY3 News.

Blustery weather today with roller coaster temps in the 7day

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:42pm

Wind advisory through 6 pm tonight.

Judge orders Baxter County to pay costs of group that sued over Nativity scene

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 12:17pm

A federal judge ordered the county and a county judge to pay more than $52,000 to a Mountain Home resident and a nonprofit group that promotes secularism.  The order was issued last Friday, three months after the judge ruled that a Nativity scene on the Baxter County courthouse lawn violated the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks ordered Baxter County and County Judge Mickey Pendergrass to pay Dessa Blackthorn and the American Humanist Association for attorney fees and costs in the suit.

The lawsuit began in December 2014 after Pendergrass denied a request to place a "Happy Winter Solstice" banner alongside a Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn.  Brooks ruled in favor of Blackthorn and the association in November because he found the Nativity scene was displayed in violation of the First Amendment.    ___      Information from The Baxter Bulletin

Track snow showers Monday on KY3's Interactive Radar

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 11:23am

Track snow showers throughout the day.