As Tropical Storm Hurricane Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast, we have gathered tip sheets about covering natural disasters and the ensuing public health risks, along with articles written by journalists about covering the public health angle of disasters.
The compilation includes award-winning stories about covering health and health care systems in the aftermath of hurricanes – along with questionnaires about how those stories were reported. Links to resources and academic research should help you find story ideas and expert sources to help you evaluate and cover the public health response before, during and after the storm.
Among the collection:
- Presentations from a panel about evaluating how prepared your city is for a disaster
- A presentation about following the money in public health crisis preparation
- Two articles about how journalists might cover and survive disasters as well as understand the medical systems in place to handle them.
- Extensive reporting on health care in southern Mississippi and New Orleans in the years after Hurricane Katrina
- Sheri Fink’s Pulitzer-winning article, “The Deadly Choices at Memorial,” about what happened at one isolated New Orleans hospital in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, as well as her article for AHCJ, “Covering a complex story for the long haul,” in which she explains the reporting and writing process for that work.
With the news that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson in January, will travel to Florida to watch the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, which will be commanded by her husband, there may be renewed interest in her medical history and treatment.
Lemole speaks at Health Journalism 2011 in Philadelphia on April 16.
Attendees of Health Journalism 2011 heard her neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Lemole, describe his response, and that of the whole team at his hospital, in the minutes, hours and days after Giffords’ injury. In the speech, he credited the hospital’s multidisciplinary approach as well as the fact that the system worked as it was intended to on that day. He gave details about Giffords’ treatment and brain injuries in general that health journalists might find useful as Giffords re-emerges in the news.
If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, now you can watch Lemole’s keynote speech online.
Some articles about the talk:
Scott Johnson of The Oakland Tribune writes about the science of chronic trauma and puts it in the perspective of Oakland, Calif., residents who are regularly exposed to chronic levels of stress and trauma. There were 95 homicides in Oakland in 2010.
Scientists are finding that trauma affects how the brain functions and, especially in children, can create long-term debilitating problems, including anti-social behavior, dissociation, emotional numbness and trouble forming social relationships.
Fortunately, scientists also are finding there are therapeutic tools that can help.
The science around chronic trauma is evolving quickly and in exciting new ways. Even as scientists discover new evidence about what is happening in the brains of chronically traumatized people, intriguing new techniques are emerging for coping with the effects.
Johnson, the Oakland Tribune‘s Violence Reporting Fellow, is blogging at OaklandEffect.com, where he has written about his own experiences and about attending the recent “Healing Moments in Trauma Treatment” conference. Johnson’s position is funded by the California Endowment and he will be with the Tribune for a year, reporting on a wide range of issues, including those related to the impacts of violence on the mental health of Oakland residents.