Remains found in landfill search for Savannah toddler Quinton Simon; mom arrested. Over half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals may soon close. Many dead in Indonesia quake, including schoolchildren.
Remains found in landfill search for Savannah toddler; mom arrested
Over a month after 20-month-old Quinton Simon went missing from his Savannah home, a search of a local landfill led by the FBI has located human remains believed to be his.
Quinton’s mother, 22-year-old Leilani Simon, reported him missing on Oct. 5. Leilani initially claimed that Quinton’s father Bubba Moss had come in and taken Quinton. But police confirmed Moss was nowhere near Savannah when Quinton disappeared. Just a few days later, Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley told reporters that repeated searches of the home had yielded evidence that Quinton was dead. Quinton’s mother, Leilani, was named as the prime suspect.
Leilani Simon had lost custody of two of her three children, the youngest being a 4-month-old infant. But she and her boyfriend Daniel Youngkin were living with Leilani’s mother, Billie Jo Howell, who had been awarded custody. Howell was out of town when Quinton disappeared.
The week after the disappearance, FBI specialists in landfill searches flew in from all over the country. They were acting on information that suggested Leilani Simon had dumped Quinton’s body in a particular dumpster in a local trailer park near her home. After weeks of searching a mountain of trash, interrupted by passing hurricanes, the remains were found on Friday.
An FBI lab in Quantico, VA, identified them as human. It will take a few more days to confirm whether the remains are Quinton’s. Police arrested Leilani Simon yesterday on charges of malice murder, hiding the death of another, and making false statements.
Over half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals may soon close
Mississippi’s rural hospitals were struggling financially before the pandemic, thanks in part to repeated refusal both by former Gov. Phil Bryant and current Gov. Tate Reeves’ refusal to accept Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Without this expansion, low income people who otherwise would qualify for Medicaid have no insurance. That leaves the hospitals on the hook for uncompensated care.
The pandemic may now be claiming 38 (54%) of Mississippi’s rural hospitals as victims. Rising costs of care and hospitalizations have driven these hospitals to the brink of closure. During the pandemic, many permanent hospital staff nurses left to take better paying jobs as travel nurses, forcing hospitals to increase wages to retain staff.
The Delta will be the hardest hit region in terms of losing healthcare institutions. People in the Delta often have to drive over an hour to receive essential medical care as it is. But other more affluent parts of the state could be losing hospitals and clinics as well.
Short-term solutions for long-term problems
Some hospitals have only managed to keep their doors open by cutting key departments like maternity care. In 2020, 60% of births in Mississippi were financed by Medicaid. Mississippi already has one of the nation’s worst success rates in prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care. We already lead the nation in rates of fetal mortality, infant mortality and pre-term births. Mississippi also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
The Mississippi Hospital Association is attempting to hold off some closures, at least temporarily. MHA has called on the state’s Division of Medicaid work with federal officials to raise cap on Medicaid reimbursement rates. That would at least decrease costs for caring for individuals already covered by Medicaid.
Democratic State Sen. Hob Bryan, says Mississippi’s hospitals are headed for “market failure” without urgent intervention. “What we need is somebody, somewhere in state government, who is charged with figuring what we want health care to look like now and five and 10 years down the road,” Bryan said. “Unless I’m terribly confused, there is nobody in your state government that has that charge”.
Many dead in Indonesia quake, including schoolchildren
Yesterday afternoon, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck Java, Indonesia’s main island. The quake destroyed or damaged 22,000 homes and over 50 schools. When the quake struck at 1pm,schools were still in session. The death toll is currently around 268 people, many of them schoolchildren. That number is likely to rise over the following days and 151 people are still missing. Professional and volunteer rescuers worked long into the night to try to locate any survivors trapped in the rubble.
Rescue and aid work is difficult as the damage is spread out over a wide area and there have been around 140 aftershocks. Much of the region is without power and landslides have affected roads and other key infrastructure.
Indonesia lies at one edge of the Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active boundary around a tectonic plate which roughly circles the Pacific Ocean. However, in this area of Java, buildings aren’t built to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude. Survivors describe seeing homes simply collapse almost as soon as the earth started shaking. More than 58,000 people have been displaced and some have carried cardboard signs seeking water and shelter.
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