Author Archives: Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

When covering health insurance is personal

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga

California journalist Randy Dotinga has written several pieces about his own efforts to obtain health insurance. His “long-running tale of woe” features several twists and turns but it isn’t that unusual in the grim world of 21st-century health insurance in the United States.

Since 2000, I’ve been jilted by a grand total of seven insurance companies. The eighth — the one covering me now — comes courtesy of Obamacare and looks like it might actually stick around for a while. Expensive? Yes. A relief? Absolutely.

What is unusual is for a journalist who covers health and medicine to be so open about his own experiences. In an article for AHCJ, he offers journalists some tips on how to do the same.

A collection of the latest Ebola stories, resources

 Photo: NIAID via Flickr

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

What I’m reading about Ebola today:

Possible second Ebola case in Dallas,” which may, of course, be related to “Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient.” And now we learn that the “Ebola patient told hospital he had been to Liberia,” as well make use of a helpful interactive graphic on how contact tracing works. (Edited to add that last link.)

BioWorld Today has compiled a list of resources and stories about Ebola: “Special Report: The Push to Contain Ebola Virus.”

The World Health Organization has a page for Ebola situation assessments that it says will be updated Wednesday afternoon with information about a clinical trial of a vaccine. Continue reading

Resources for covering Ebola following Texas patient’s diagnosis

Image via CDC

Image via CDC

With today’s announcement of the first Ebola case to be diagnosed in the U.S., it’s worth brushing up on the facts about the virus to help your readers, viewers and listeners understand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hosting a briefing at 5:30 p.m. ET about the case, diagnosed in a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Expected to speak during that briefing:

  • Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • David Lakey, M.D., commissioner, Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Edward Goodman, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, hospital epidemiologist, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
  • Zachary Thompson, M.A., director, Dallas County Health and Human Services

And here are some resources to use in your reporting: Continue reading

Latest awards, fellowships and job changes for AHCJ members

Photo: Brad.K via Flickr

Photo: Brad.K via Flickr

The latest AHCJ members making news include Loren BonnerPamela BrewerKaty ButlerJoe Carlson, Phil Cauthon, Catherine Dold, Robert A. Duke, Nancy B. Finn, Stephanie M. Lee, Laura PutreLiz Seegert and Eric Whitney. See more about them here:

Loren Bonner is now a reporter for the publications of the American Pharmacists Association, including Pharmacy Today and pharmacist.com. Her last position was with DOTmed News as online editor.

Pamela Brewer (@MyNDTALK) has launched a website about her daily podcast on health and relationships.

Katy Butler‘s award-winning 2013 examination of American end-of-life health care, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” was named a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction.

Joe Carlson (@_JoeCarlson) is covering medical technology, including Medtronic and medtech devicemakers, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Carlson was previously with Modern Healthcare.

Phil Cauthon is director of communications for the Sunflower Foundation.

The second edition of “The Recovery Book,” by Al J. Mooney, III, M.D., Howard Eisenberg and Catherine Dold, has been released. It is about what to expect when in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Robert A. Duke was appointed health care columnist for Whatcom Watch, a monthly online and print newspaper in Bellingham, Wash. Duke’s column is titled “Whatcom: Chronic & Acute” and it covers health care reform and practice in Whatcom County, 90 miles north of Seattle.

The updated 2014 edition of Nancy B. Finn’s book, “e-Patients Live Longer, The Complete Guide to Managing Health Care Using Technology,” includes a simple update on the meaningful use statute and a comprehensive chapter that helps patients understand the Affordable Care Act.

Stephanie M. Lee was named a finalist in journalism in the 2014 PEN Center USA Literary Awards for a long-form piece about surrogacy in India.

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl), previously a producer for health rankings at U.S. News & World Report, has been promoted to the news desk as health care reporter.

McGraw-Hill Education has published the 11th edition of “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,” by Ricki Lewis, Ph.D.

Laura Putre won a gold award for feature writing from the Association of Healthcare Publication Editors and a Bronze Award from the Association of Business Publication Editors for her 2013 series “Generations in the Healthcare Workplace” in H&HN Magazine.

Liz Seegert, a freelance journalist and AHCJ’s topic leader on aging, has been selected as a Journalist in Aging Fellow by the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media. She will attend the annual GSA Meeting in November and will work on a multi-part radio series on ethnic and cultural responses to aging and caregiving.

Eric Whitney is news director at Montana Public Radio, based in Missoula. He was a Colorado-based independent journalist doing work for NPR, Kaiser Health News and other outlets.

Are you an AHCJ member with news about your career, such as a new job, fellowship or award? Send details and links to brandi@healthjournalism.org for inclusion in the next member news post.

Senators push for research into prostate cancer

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer

Two U.S. senators have proposed a bill to support research into prostate cancer, calling for “a national strategy to combat prostate cancer.”

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have introduced the National Prostate Cancer Council Act, which would establish a body made up of federal agencies, patients, and medical experts. It would coordinate prostate cancer research and services across all federal agencies.

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

In a press release announcing the legislation, Sessions said, “Testing and early detection are the keys to combat this disease. When identified early, the survival rate for prostate cancer is very high. We need to ensure that we have the most advanced screening tools available and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”

The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer and 29,480 deaths in the U.S. this year. Continue reading

New jobs, awards and more for AHCJ members

The latest AHCJ members in the news are Gerri Constant, Mari Edlin, John Gever, Rachel Gurevich, Janice Lynch Schuster, Eric T. Rosenthal and Saerom Yoo. See the latest about them:


Julie Rybarczyk via Flickr

Julie Rybarczyk via Flickr

Gerri Constant (@GerriShaftel) is the medical/special projects producer for CBS-2/KCAL-Los Angeles. She won a 2014 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award (Outstanding Medical Story-Multi-Part) for “Heroes of Children’s Hospital,” a compilation of profiles of exceptional patients. She also has started a two-year term on the Board of Governors for The Television Academy.

Mari Edlin, a freelance journalist/writer since 1988, is the editor of two new publications— Healthcare Innovation News and Population Health News — in addition to her contributions to national health care magazines and California Healthline.

John Gever (@JohnGeverMPT) has beenpromoted to managing editor at MedPage Today.

Rachel Gurevich (@RachelGurevich) received a 2014 RESOLVE Hope Award for Achievement, recognizing her writing about infertility for About.com.

Janice Lynch Schuster (@jlschuster827) is freelancing full time and working on a book with a pediatric oncologist and pain expert.

Eric T. Rosenthal has joined MedPage Today as special correspondent covering issues and controversies in oncology. He had been special correspondent for Oncology Times.

Saerom Yoo (@syoo) was awarded second place for enterprise reporting from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association for her three-part series, “Crimes of Homelessness.”

Award-winning journalist honored with scholarship in her name

A new scholarship for students who show promise in medical journalism will honor longtime health journalist Marianne D. Mattera, who died in July.

Most recently, Mattera was managing editor of MedPage Today. The scholarship, for students in New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, will include mentorship from MedPage Today and Everyday Health employees.

“Marianne was a dedicated professional and a mentor to many young journalists entering the field of medical journalism,” said Peggy Peck, vice president and editor in chief of MedPage Today, in a release about the scholarship. “I believe Marianne would be honored by having a scholarship in her name and that through this scholarship our media channels are carrying on a tradition of mentorship that she valued so very much.”

During Mattera’s 30-year career, she won a record 18 Jesse H. Neal Awards from the Association of Business Information and Media Companies. Prior to MedPage Today, Mattera was editor in chief of Medical Economics magazine and editor of RN, a clinical journal for nurses, and edited two books for nurses.

Everyday Health is a digital health and wellness company that owns MedPage Today, which provides peer-reviewed news coverage for health care professionals.

Six (or more) things to remember when reporting on health care costs

health-care-costs-reportersHealth care costs lack transparency and are wildly variable, not just from region to region but sometimes from block to block within the same city.

It is a complex topic, with chargemaster prices, what insurers paid and what consumers pay (if anything). Then there are the administrative rules set by Medicare and Medicaid and the negotiated rates between insurers and providers.

It’s daunting, but Lisa Aliferis of KQED, Rebecca Plevin of SCPR and Jeanne Pinderof clearhealthcosts.com have teamed up to offer guidance for reporting on health care costs in this new AHCJ tip sheet.

Is your community fighting tooth decay with school-based dental sealant programs?

Have you visited a school-based dental sealant program in your state or community? There may be a good story there.

Can’t find one to visit? That may be another worthwhile story.

Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to children’s permanent back teeth to seal the narrow grooves on the chewing surfaces and keep out decay-causing bacteria and food particles. Studies show that the procedure can reduce the incidence of tooth decay by 60 percent.

But poor and high-risk kids who could benefit the most from sealants are not always receiving them.

This new tip sheet from Mary Otto, AHCJ’s oral health core topic leader, explains why not all children who should have sealants are getting them and how to check into it in your community. Read more …

2014 class of AHCJ-National Library of Medicine fellows chosen

AHCJ-NLM-FellowsEight journalists have been named to this year’s class of AHCJ-National Library of Medicine fellows. The fellowship program was created to increase reporters’ access and understanding of the considerable resources available at NLM and the National Institutes of Health.

Their visit to the NIH campus, scheduled for Sept. 7-11, will include hands-on workshops about how to use and get the most from several government research databases, such as PubMed, MedlinePlus, ClinicalTrials.gov and ToxNet. Fellows also will meet with senior NLM and NIH researchers and officials for exclusive informational sessions.

The fellows were selected from dozens of qualified applicants.

Find out who was chosen and more about the program.