Tag Archives: #ahcj13

#ahcj13 speakers featured in news about Boston Marathon bombings

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.

If you attended Health Journalism 2013, you heard from plenty of Boston-based medical professionals, some of whom are in the news now talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. You might remember hearing from:

Ron Medzon, M.D., led AHCJ members through the SIM lab part of one of the field trips and talked with attendees about doctors and nurses communicating with patients and families about medical errors. Medzon, emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center, was on duty when victims of the bombing began arriving. He talked about the experience with Robin Young of WBUR-Boston.

Paul Summergrad, M.D., chair of psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, spoke about mental disorders at the conference, offers advice on how to care for the emotional wounds of the bombing in several articles:

And John Halamka, M.D., the chief information officer at, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, talked about communication and technology in the wake of the bombings in “Social media key in enabling quick provider response to Boston bombings,” by  Dan Bowman for FieceHealthIT. At the conference, he spoke about electronic health records.

Have you seen other panel speakers quoted in the news? If so, please let us know by posting links to the stories in the comments section.

Update: AHCJ member Naseem S. Miller, of Internal Medicine News Digital Network, interviewed Medzon and a doctor who was in the medical tent at the finish line about their experiences.

Update: AHCJ member Leana Wen writes on NPR’s Shots blog about treating patients in the aftermath of the bombing while wondering if the next patient she saw was going to be her husband.

Hospital inspection reports one key to writing about quality of care #ahcj13

Kelsey Ryan

About Kelsey Ryan

Kelsey Ryan (on Twitter, @kelsey_ryan) covers health care for The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. She is a 2014 AHCJ Rural Health Journalism Fellow.

For journalists wanting to learn more about how to track hospital quality through inspection reports, Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica, and Paul Dreyer, a former senior regulator with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health who now consults with hospitals, gave a presentation at Health Journalism 2013 about how reporters can get that information.

As an example, Ornstein reminded attendees that actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn children had received an overdose of Heparin at a hospital. The Quaids felts the hospital had tried to cover up the incident, but an inspection report uncovered the truth about what had happened.

“It’s a lesson to hospitals to be honest with families,” Ornstein said. “And journalists are the conduit for that.” Continue reading

Snapshots from #ahcj13 | Eric Jankiewicz

Gerri Shaftel Constant

About Gerri Shaftel Constant

Gerri Shaftel Constant is a medical producer at KTTV-Los Angeles. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-California Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by The California HealthCare Foundation.

Eric Jankiewicz is leaning toward a career as a heath or science reporter. That’s his area of focus as a student at City University of New York.

I caught up with him after a session called “What you need to know about clinical trials but were afraid to ask.” He said that session was indicative of what he’s appreciated most about all of the sessions he’s attended.

“I think I like the blend of the panelists being very very professional – like science-kind-of-guy, and then having a reporter there as an intermediary between the scientists and the audience.” He explained, “It kind of makes it easier to understand. It takes really really dense topics and makes them interesting for a 22-year-old.”

Researchers share work on regeneration, reconstruction #ahcj13

Alma Martinez

About Alma Martinez

Alma Martinez is a associate producer at Radio Bilingue in Fresno, Calif. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Ethnic Media Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

In a Health Journalism 2013 panel focused on research taking place in regenerative medicine, Dany Adams, Ph.D., an associate research fellow at Tufts University, described her research with African frogs.

Through her research with bioelectricity, or electrical signals, she has proven that African clawed frogs can regenerate tails. She added that this particular species of frogs was a good candidate for the research, as the regeneration happens with a minimum risk of infection. What was most surprising when it came to the tail regeneration in the African clawed frogs is that the muscle, skeleton and spinal cord regenerated on their own, without the need of any additional therapies. She also shared that children can re-grow finger tips before the age of 10.

Adams said the possible implications for human benefits are great and implored journalists to cover such research so the public and legislators, who decide on funding for the continuation of such research, know about it. Continue reading

Government officials, researcher make case for policy influencing healthy behavior #ahcj13

Mina Kim

About Mina Kim

Mina Kim is a health reporter at KQED-San Francisco. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-California Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by The California HealthCare Foundation.

Well-structured, comprehensive health policy can change behaviors according to panelists Susan Kansagra, Manish Sethi and Giridhar Mallya. They have been working to address different health issues – gun violence, smoking, and obesity – and shared their strategies at Health Journalism 2013.

Giridhar Mallya, director of policy and planning at Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, helped launch a campaign to combat obesity there and, after decades of rising obesity rates, the city is seeing declines. The key, Mallya said, was in treating the issue as an environmental disease rather than in individual problem, and that meant altering the environment to give people a chance at being healthy.

“Changing the context is really the sweet spot of public health,” Mallya said. “Change the context so people can default to healthy decisions.” Continue reading

Quality of life, mental health among issues facing senior health care #ahcj13

Linnie Bailey

About Linnie Bailey

Linnie Bailey is a magazine editor at Valley Life Today (Corona, Calif.). She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Ethnic Media Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Sharon A. Levine, M.D., from the Boston Medical Center Geriatrics Section and a professor of medicine at Boston University, warned attendees of Health Journalism 2013 of the coming “tsunami” of aging baby boomers and older seniors who are living longer (over 19 million people over the age of 85 expected by 2050), stressing the need for an increased emphasis on senior care.  

Levine said there is an extreme shortage of physicians specializing in geriatric care but described it as a “fabulous” job.  She described working within a “village” of providers and caregivers focused on the physical and mental health needs of the aging population. Team goals include not only promoting health, but also preserving independence. Quality of life is a major issue for seniors who may suffer with chronic disease and disability for decades.

“How are you living on a daily basis?” is part of the assessment for physicians and caregivers when evaluating seniors. Questions include:

  • “How often do you leave your house?”
  • “Are you able to shower or bathe on a regular basis?”
  • “Are you able to move around your house easily?”
  • “Do you have enough food and can you prepare a meal?”

Panel moderator Eileen Beal asked the panelists, “What is the one story you would most like to see addressed by the media?”

Levine’s answer was, “How do we help caregivers navigate the complex world of comprehensive senior care?”

While the health care focus for seniors most often involves their physical health, Bert Rahl, director of Mental Health for Eldercare Services Institute LLC, says evaluating and treating the mental health issues of seniors is equally important.  Seniors suffering from mental illnesses show a decrease of 20 years from their lifespan.

Rahl says that while some seniors suffer from lifelong conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it is not uncommon for mental illness to develop after age 60.  These late-onset illnesses may include delusional disorders, psychosis, or depression. He stated studies indicate after the age of 65, 20 percent of people will get a mental illness.

Adding to the problem, according to Rahl, there are very few geriatric mental health professionals. He would like to see the media address the need for funding of senior mental health services.

Boston University’s Terry Ellis, director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation, discussed the need for a change in the way we look at victims of neurological events and illnesses. Ellis said studies show “the brain is modifiable” and described the progress that can be made with stroke victims months, or even years, after traditional therapy (usually only a few months) has ended.

This is particularly important for seniors who often become sedentary after a stroke resulting in their quality of life deteriorating greatly. Ellis encourages continual therapy to improve motor skills, and this is the area she would like to see covered more by the media.

Susan Reinhard, from the AARP Public Policy Institute, wrapped up the session with a presentation on caregiving that generated a lot of response from the audience – just about everyone in the room raised their hands when asked if they are responsible for some form of caregiving for an older adult.

Reinhard addressed the issues faced by most caregivers and stated the quality of life becomes an issue not just for the senior, but also for the caregiver.  Stating that “families are deeply worried” about the issue, she reiterated what the other panelists said about the lack of training and support for caregivers.

“Even in the area of dispensing medications,” she stated, “this can be hard for a caregiver because many seniors are on five to nine medications a day!” Reinhard would like to see care giver issued addressed more by the press, saying, “There needs to be a social movement for caregivers!”

There were a couple of great resources handed out during the workshop:

Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being; A report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, this publication is chock-full of data and statistics on older Americans, covering everything from demographics, health care, housing, and habits.

Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care, by Susan Reinhard,R.N., Ph.D., AARP Public Policy Institute; Carol Levine, M.A., United Health Fund; Sarah Samis, MPA United Health Fund.

Snapshots from #ahcj13 | Yvonne Valdez

Antonio Flores-Lobos

About Antonio Flores-Lobos

Antonio Flores-Lobos is editor of Las Noticias. He is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Rural Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Yvonne Valdez, copy editor/health writer, El Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.:

What brought you to the AHCJ conference?
The desire of getting more and more training on health issues, in order to inform better our growing Hispanic community in South Florida. The need of having more info on health reform, there is little to none specifics about it, at least in the Sunshine State!

Which has been one of your favorite panels … and why?
Health reform, the one with the governor of Massachusetts  Because he explained in a good and simple way what was working for this state and how people and public health in general can benefit from having health insurance.

What are you taking from the conference?
More knowledge, many story ideas, the energy shared by many in terms of willing to help out with good health articles, the grace of having met many colleagues from all USA. And I was happy to see also the presence of many Hispanic journalists. And how we all want to learn and succeed in helping out our communities.

Are you planning any sightseeing while in Boston?
I have done it already! I am lucky enough to have a friend from the university I studied at living here, and she made me literally “spin” around Boston in a couple of nights. I especially enjoyed the opportunity of going to Harvard University. I hope though tonight I have the opportunity of going out with a group of new friends I have met here at the conference.

Boston program specializes in treating homeless #ahcj13

Desiree Robinson

About Desiree Robinson

Desiree Robinson is a producer/host at WBAI-Corona. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-New York Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the New York State Health Foundation.

Larry Adams, patient and chairman of the consumer advisory board of the Boston Healthcare for Homeless Program, addresses visiting AHCJ members.

Photo by Desiree RobinsonLarry Adams, patient and chairman of the consumer advisory board of the Boston Healthcare for Homeless Program, addresses visiting AHCJ members.

“I’ve been locked up in mental institutions and prison. If it hadn’t been for the team here, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. When I’m feeling depressed, I pick up the phone and I call my psychiatrist and talk.”

These are the heartfelt sentiments of Larry Adams, patient and chairman of the consumer advisory board of the Boston Healthcare for Homeless Program (BHCHP). First of its kind in the nation, BHCHP serves 12,000 patients through over 60,000 visits a year in more than 80 locations. For more than 25 years their mission has been to provide or assure access to the highest quality health care for all homeless men, women, transgender and children in the greater Boston area.

As part of one of the field trips offered at Health Journalism 2013, journalists toured the bright and warm facility where health care teams mobilize to serve the most underserved of Boston’s residents. Continue reading

Waiting for children: New stories about infertility #ahcj13

Marcie Fraser

About Marcie Fraser

Marcie Fraser is a health reporter at YNN-Albany. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-New York Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the New York State Health Foundation.

According to the CDC, about 10 percent of women age 44 and younger, or 6.7 million, have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Women account for a third of infertility problems and men for another third.

In a session at Health Journalism 2013, Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health said, “There is no other medical condition that has a negative impact on so many areas of a person’s life like infertility.” Continue reading

Snapshots from #ahcj13 | Soting Chiang

Yurina Melara Valiulis

About Yurina Melara Valiulis

Yurina Melara Valiulis is a public health reporter at La Opinion in Los Angeles. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Ethnic Media Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Soting Chiang, independent journalist, Hong Kong:

What brought you to the AHCJ conference?
We don’t have such a kind of conference in Hong Kong and that’s why I am here, seventh in a row, to learn from each other and to hear experts’ sharing firsthand.

Which has been one of your favorite panels so far, and why?
The “Freelance: Maintaining quality under pressure” one, definitely! Loads of useful tips and tools suggested by the panelists, and audience as well.

If you could add a panel, what would it be?
Haven’t thought about it yet.

Are you planning any sightseeing while in Boston?
Medical museums are definitely on my list.  I found this article in Covering Health really useful.  My husband arrives in Boston next Monday.  I am looking forward to going with him although he is less enthusiastic about it!