From hospitals to medical research to consumer trends, David Wahlberg covers the waterfront when it comes to health and health care.
Wahlberg (@davidkwahlberg) has covered these topics for about 20 years, and has worked at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison since 2005.
As a Kaiser Media Fellow in Health in 2009-10, Wahlberg wrote an 11-part series, “Out of reach: The rural health care gap,” that won a Sigma Chi Delta award from the Society of Professional Journalists. His five-part series in 2007, “Medical Misconnections: Patient-safety problems and solutions,” won a first-place award from the Association of Health Care Journalists. He has been a member of AHCJ for 10 years.
YEARS COVERING HEALTH:
RECENT STORIES INCLUDE:
A column, Health Sense, which I started after this year’s AHCJ conference.
A two-part series on nursing homes:
- Five county nursing home facilities had nine serious citations
- Green Houses aim to change the face of nursing home care
“Madison Without Borders,” a special section on global health – sidebars:
- UW’s Global Health Institute about more than meds and surgery
- Ethiopia: UW Hospital staff focuses on teaching emergency medicine
- Uganda: Class creates awareness of needs abroad and at home
- Bangladesh: Foundation empowers women diagnosed with breast cancer
- Kenya: Students, teachers promote Health by Motorbike
- Haiti: Earthquake inspires doctor to help workers help themselves
“Inside Out,” a two-part series about a rare birth defect:
- Fear strikes when Jefferson couple learns baby will have rare birth defect
- Atrazine link? Doctor sees ‘ominous trends,’ but no proof
- After surgery, Jefferson family begin anxious watch over son born with gastroschisis
- Cause & defect: Docs see links, but state officials say it costs too much to investigate
FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB:
The variety. I cover hospitals and clinics, medical research, health policy, public health, community health, consumer health, prevention programs, treatment trends, patient struggles and successes, disciplinary actions against providers and more.
LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB:
The downside of having so much variety: I don’t specialize or develop expertise in any particular aspect of health coverage.
STORY YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF:
I illustrated rural health challenges through personal stories two years ago in an 11-part series, “Out of reach: The rural health care gap.” One segment, on mental health, focused on the lack of child psychiatrists in rural Wisconsin. I featured a girl whose schizophrenia went undiagnosed for years as she and her mother traveled extensively for help but received inadequate care. The piece brought needed attention to the mental health struggles of rural children. One small community invited me to join a primary care doctor and a psychiatrist on a panel to discuss mental health needs. This year, a community health center got a federal grant to offer behavioral health services near the hometown of the girl whose story I told. The head of the clinic said my article helped secure the grant. Those are small steps in bridging the gap, but I like to think they underscore a greater awareness of rural health struggles generated by my series.
PREVIOUS JOURNALISM JOBS:
I covered health and the environment at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ann Arbor (Mich.) News, San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun and Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald.
IF YOU WEREN’T A JOURNALIST YOU’D BE:
A teacher. I taught English in Shanghai, China, the year after I graduated from college and enjoyed it, and I’ve done some English as a Second Language tutoring. But I think I’m better at learning than teaching.
IN YOUR FREE TIME YOU:
Bicycle, hike, camp, play piano, read, watch the Brewers and Packers and spend time with my partner and our two black Labs.
WHAT YOU’RE READING:
Recently finished “Peace Like a River,” by Leif Enger. Now reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy (anyone heard of it?), by Suzanne Collins.
ONE THING YOUR COLLEAGUES DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU:
While working at Denali National Park in Alaska for a summer during college, I went skydiving. I thought it might ease my fear of heights. It did not. But it sure was beautiful up there.