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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

AHCJ webcast to look at role of communities in terms of wellness, health

Photo: dmitryzhkov via FlickrA May 25 webcast will examine the role of communities on health, including space utilization, affordable housing, area resources and more.

How do housing, along with space, community resources and other development issues, combine to impact health? From infrastructure to proximity to parks, an increasing amount of attention being is to how one’s surrounding space directly impacts wellness and disease.

Two experts will discuss the connection during a May 25 AHCJ webcast that will look at both the medical impact as well from a community planning perspective. Continue reading

Looking at new leads on covering hunger

Photo: Janice Lynch SchusterTony Vinson, recruitment and intake coordinator for D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) in Washington, D.C., was among panelists at a recent Aspen Institute event who discussed how his organization is rethinking food security.

Like in other areas of health, hunger also is facing an ever-widening dichotomy. On the one hand, there is a U.S. foodie revival, with no-reservation hot-spots and every-growing list of new microbreweries and grocery-stores-turned-restaurants.  Even so, millions in America still find food scarce.

Still, there are some innovations afoot, as AHCJ member Janice Lynch Schuster recently found out. She has compiled a new tip sheet on covering hunger, how the meaning of hunger is changing and offers some potential story ideas in her tip sheet, drawn in part from a recent poverty program hosted by The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy organization based in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Refugees, undocumented immigrants often face ’roundabout care’

Photo: Susan Heavey/AHCJThe Hastings Center’s Nancy Berlinger discussed health issues that refugees and undocumented immigrants face in the United States at a #AHCJ17 panel that included Bassem Chaaban (right) of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

For Ghassan, a Syrian refugee seeking asylum after arriving in the United States about two years ago, a recent visit to the emergency room was not a choice but a necessity.

Without access to health insurance coverage, the Syrian father who had fled the war there found himself receiving charity care following an accident. Later, problems with his knee again put him on the receiving end of care without coverage. He had worked for 20-some years in Syria, he said, but found it hard to work with his leg pain. Continue reading

Reporter’s work pushes regulators, legislators to act on opioids

Photo: Sam Owens, Charleston Gazette-MailEric Eyre’s investigative series, Painkiller Profiteers, chronicled massive pain pill shipments to West Virginia. This shows the cremated ashes of a West Virginia woman who died from a drug overdose.

Lack of work, educational gaps, despair, overprescribing – there’s a host of reasons behind the nation’s opioid crisis. It may seem daunting to reporters who want to nail down the epidemic’s causes, but sometimes you just have to keep digging – literally.

West Virginia reporter Eric Eyre realized something was off when, during a trip to the state pharmacy board, he began digging through boxes filled with faxes from drug wholesalers reporting suspicious pharmacy activity. Continue reading

#AHCJ17 panel addresses the cycle of toxic stress in young children

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJSt. Petersburg-based pediatric psychiatrist Mark Cavitt said that the effects of chronic stress are more likely for those exposed to a greater number of adverse childhood events.

Science is increasingly clear that constant exposure to stress in youth affects their bodies in ways that alters their brains and changes their response systems, especially younger children exposed more challenges, experts told attendees of a Health Journalism 2017 panel in Orlando.

Panelists noted that stress, even in young children, can be good. It helps spark protective reactions to protect the body from harm – say, crossing a busy street. But studies have shown the constant bombardment of stressful situations in kids can have a serious, cumulative impact. Continue reading