Tag Archives: disasters

Covering preparedness, hurricanes and other natural disasters

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: Eric Hackathorn via Flickr

Residents of Texas will be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey for a long time to come. Journalists will remain on the scene to tell the stories of what happened and the people whose lives have been changed.

For those in other parts of the country, this is a good time to cover disaster preparedness in your community. The report “Ready or Not? 2016” from the Trust for America’s Health measured health preparedness on a state-by-state basis and found that 26 states and Washington, D.C., scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators. Continue reading

Telehealth gaining wider acceptance but hurdles remain, say #AHCJ17 panelists

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

Telehealth is a field that is moving towards widespread acceptance, so agreed a panel at Health Journalism 2017 in Orlando.

Many hospitals have some form of telemedicine these days, so covering the topic in a fresh way can be challenging. Continue reading

When disaster strikes: How will your community meet mental health needs of older adults?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Ambulances line up in Moore, Okla., following a deadly tornado in May 2013.

Photo by State Farm.

As the residents of Moore, Okla., begin the cleanup and recovery process from the super-tornado that destroyed the town and claimed at least two dozen lives, the physical and mental health of the older population requires special handling. This is especially true for those over age 75 and the frail elderly, who are considered vulnerable and high-risk populations, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Many older adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions – including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and dementia – and juggle multiple medications. Access to prescriptions may suddenly be cut off when someone is moved to a shelter or temporary housing. Adherence becomes an issue. Missing medical records, lack of a person’s ability to recall all prescribed medications, delays in refilling prescriptions, and stress contribute to compliance challenges.

Other physical and environmental conditions, ranging from struggles with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), to poor sensory perception, to loss of electricity and water, add to an increased sense of vulnerability, according to researchers. Temporary living conditions may exacerbate these conditions – appetite may be affected and access to some foods may be limited, which impact chronic disease management. Sleep is disrupted, mental and emotional stresses take a toll on the body and mind. Continue reading

#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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages 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.

NYU hospital evacuation prompts questions about plans in other facilities

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

More than 200 patients had to be evacuated from New York University’s Langone Medical Center last night when backup generators failed during the storm known as Sandy.

Photo by MTAPhotos via Flickr

There are plenty of questions to be answered about how and why this happened and reporters will certainly be on top of that.

But reporters around the country should be looking into disaster planning locally. You might examine local hospitals’ disaster plans. Have they really planned for every contingency? How often do they perform drills to practice and evaluate their evacuation plans? Certainly there are things no one can plan for, but it’s worth evaluating disaster plans and talking to local hospital administrators and officials about what is expected in your area.

We’ve gathered some resources to help get you started. First, two blog posts about the response when a tornado hit a hospital in Joplin, Mo.: Continue reading