With record rainfall in parts of the United States this summer, people in some of the nation’s wettest areas – including Washington, D.C. – may find it hard to imagine going even just a few days without rain showers.
But The Washington Post recently took a look at the impact of California’s drought on the poor in two of the state’s rural valleys. National reporter Darryl Fears traveled to Mecca, Calif., to show how the ongoing lack of water is hitting low-income residents especially hard, affecting what they drink, how they bathe and what they eat. Continue reading
Photo: CDC Public Health Image Library/Amanda MillsAn African-American boy is seen walking with a teacher in Atlanta.
“Our anxiety and fear is palpable,” New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham wrote recently.
“Racism’s Psychological Toll,” written for The New York Times Magazine, highlights the emotional distress that victims of racially motivated aggression can feel and raises questions about the possible link to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The Q&A piece, along with several others, was part of the magazine’s look at racial violence in the wake of the June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead. After the shooting, a website linked to the white gunman charged in the shooting surfaced with a racial manifesto and photos of him with a Confederate flag.
All eyes were on the U.S. Supreme Court last week as it handed down its highly anticipated decision in King v. Burwell, affirming subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. The justices upheld the financial assistance, saying Congress saw it as critical to a functioning health insurance market. But could the court’s other big ruling have an equally profound impact on another group?
On Friday, the court ruled 5-4 in support of same-sex marriage, saying the Fourteenth Amendment gave such couples the right to marry and legalizing marriage in all 50 U.S. states. While an affirmation of LGBT rights, the decision could also be the first step in improving the health of same-sex couples, according to several health provider organizations that released statements soon after the landmark ruling. Continue reading
Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMedical student Russell Stanley (left) and Dr. Kevin Blanton (right) share the stresses and triumphs of providing care in rural settings at AHCJ’s June 19 Rural Health Journalism Workshop.
Distance dominated much of the conversation at AHCJ’s recent Rural Health Journalism Workshop in Fort Worth, Texas, a vast state with wide open spaces and far-flung cities.
While such expanses can offer a quiet alternative to urban areas, panelists at #ruralhealth15 also noted that such isolation can impact not only health, but education and other community resources. And that can present another challenge: attracting health professions to rural pockets to provide needed care for residents. Continue reading
Although tooth decay and tooth loss have been declining in recent decades, more than nine of 10 working-age Americans have cavities in permanent teeth, a new federal report shows.
“Among adults aged 20-64, 91 percent had caries and 27 percent had untreated tooth decay,” conclude the authors of a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics.
The data were drawn from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The survey, really an ongoing series of surveys, serves as a major tool for assessing the status of the nation’s oral health. NHANES’ size and depth make it unique. The study combines face-to-face interviews and physical examinations of a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people each year. The work is overseen by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading
Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJMore than 70 people attended AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop on June 19 in Fort Worth, Texas.
At a glance, the Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t seem so remote. Touching down in northern Texas, there’s a glut of restaurants, a Starbucks (there’s always a Starbucks) and, soon, a maze of highways.
But head from the airport to AHCJ’s Rural Health Journalism Workshop (#ruralhealth15) in downtown Fort Worth, and one of the major health care challenges facing non-urban areas quickly becomes clear: distance. On the road from Dallas to Fort Worth stretch miles of pavement. One Texas injury clinic along the way doesn’t look much different than the auto shops and loan stores it is sandwiched between along the busy route.
In fact, this metropolitan region was the model setting for the more than 70 people who attended the daylong program – a vast state with many isolated pockets close to Oklahoma and other states with similar challenges that can put rural residents at the bottom rung of the U.S. health care system. Continue reading
Journalists Doug Pardue and Lauren Sausser of The Post and Courier in South Carolina almost saw their story, about tackling the perpetually high infant deaths in their southern state, slip away when officials released updated statistics that appeared to show the problem ebbing.
But a closer look at the data — and its geographical divide — showed that the overall numbers weren’t really what they seemed. What resulted when Pardue, part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team this year, and Sausser, also an award-winning reporter, teamed up was a powerful investigative series on the tight hold of South Carolina’s infant mortality rate and a deeper look at where the state was getting it right, and where it wasn’t.
Here’s how they did it.
Images streaming from the recent unrest in Baltimore showed parts of a city in flames, buildings in ruins and turmoil in the streets following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray April 19 while in police custody.
Less visible – perhaps with the exception of a burned and looted CVS – are the scars of limited access to health care in a city with deep pockets of poverty.
A city on the brink
First, a look at the big picture in Baltimore, Maryland’s biggest city with roughly 623,000 residents and glaring disparities in crime rates, income, education, housing – and health.
Poverty is a poignant reality – and an overwhelming one. If you’re a reporter, you might struggle to find the story in health inequality. But at Health Journalism 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif., panelists shed some light on the health disparity between high and low incomes – and who it hurts.
Nearby Silicon Valley has massive income inequality, and panelists from Northern California gave attendees some local perspective. The panel, moderated by independent journalist Sheree Crute, explored how wealth influences health, as well as how to provide – and cover – health care in an impoverished community.
Luisa Buada, R.N., M.P.H., chief executive officer, Ravenswood Family Health Center, said the top earners in Silicon Valley can make $3,500 a week and the mean cost of a home is $855,000, but 86 percent of patients in her clinic are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).
“We’re living in a place of extraordinary poverty surrounded by extraordinary wealth,” Buada said at the April 25 panel. She described “another kind of homelessness,” in which low-income families are priced out of the astronomically expensive Silicon Valley. This creates a barrier to health care for those people, she said. Continue reading
Silicon Valley is the place of tech dreams and data wonders. But the city – one of the nation’s wealthiest areas – is also home to underlying health gaps. So perhaps it’s a fitting place to also examine the haves-and-have-nots of health care at AHCJ’s annual conference this week.
On Saturday, presenters will discuss how an area can suffer from health disparities when it comes to what care patients receive and how. In the session, “One Community, Two Worlds: Reporting on Health Inequality,” Luisa Buada, a registered nurse and chief executive of Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto, California, and Sarah Reyes, regional program manager for The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, will join San Jose Mercury News reporter Tracy Seipel to guide journalists in understanding such gaps. Continue reading