Author Archives: Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at

Some help with the challenges of tracking down lead data

Lead contamination continues to make headlines more than a year after the Flint municipal lead crisis in Michigan hit the national news. The public outcry over the government’s response to dealing with the Detroit suburb’s lead-contaminated water spurred reporters across the country to revisit lead issues for their audiences.

The problem goes beyond lead-tainted pipes that were contamination source in Flint. Continue reading

Experts urge hospitals, doctors to address health equity

Photo: National Academies of Medicine, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, January 2017.A National Academy of Medicine panel recently made recommendations on addressing health disparities in a variety of communities. Their findings also were released in comic book format.

Amid wider changes being debated for the nation’s health care system, what is in store for communities seeking to narrow the health divide? That was the challenge discussed in recent National Academies of Medicine expert panel charged with studying how to improve health equity.

Their findings looked at how communities can close the equity gap by addressing social determinants of health. The report, “Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity,” also looked at how achieving health equity could in turn boost localities by helping to build vibrant communities, bolster societal ties and reduce costs. Continue reading

Patients, doctors get snarled in Trump’s travel ban

Photo: Anne Worner via Flickr

Photo: Anne Worner via Flickr

As the legal drama continues to unfold over the Trump administration’s efforts to enforce travel restrictions on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, it is clear that doctors and patients here and overseas are adversely affected.

Caught in last month’s initial chaos were patients seeking medical treatment in the United States, as well physicians practicing or hoping to practice here, ProPublica’s Marshall Allen writes. The impact is expected to be particularly tough for communities already challenged in attracting medical talent, ranging from isolated, rural towns to struggling cities. Continue reading

Reporting team tackles lead scourge in Philly

Photo: Jessica GriffinMore than 90 percent of the houses in Philadelphia were built before the 1978 lead paint ban. One here on Bonitz Street belonged to a family featured the Philadelphia Daily News’ project.

Photo: Jessica GriffinMore than 90 percent of the houses in Philadelphia were built before the 1978 lead paint ban. One, on Bonitz Street, belonged to a family featured in the project.

Reading through a recent story in the Philadelphia Daily News on lead plaguing the city’s houses, I realized the story had the same hard-driving investigative feel that I had read before.

The story, “Philly’s shame: City ignores thousands of poisoned kids,” paints a compelling multimedia picture of the historic city and the challenges it faces dealing with older homes shedding lead-tainted paint. Continue reading

Areas to explore when it comes to gender’s impact on health

Photo: Neil Moraleevia Flickr

Photo: Neil Moralee via Flickr

When it comes to social determinants and health, gender is one of the uncontrollable risk factors that can impact health. And while science still is exploring the extent of this impact, Consumer Reports recently examined six areas where differences have more clearly emerged.

These areas – colon cancer, heart attack, depression, smoking cessation, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – not only can have gender-specific symptoms but increasingly can benefit from more tailored care (including medication), according to Consumer Reports’ November On Health newsletter. Researchers also have begun to explore how gender affects pain and opioid use, it reported. Continue reading