The D.C. chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists kicked off the fall season with a happy hour hosting public affairs officials from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The happy hour took place on Sept. 6 on the rooftop of CQ Roll Call, which overlooks the White House and the Capitol. Reporters enjoyed cold beverages, pizza and assorted snacks.
About 60 people attended, including independent journalists and reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Fierce Healthcare, Kaiser Health News, and The Hill. Members were able to mingle with one other and with HHS staff in an informal setting.
Among the HHS staff were Judy Stecker, the assistant secretary of public affairs; Mark Weber, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs; and Caitlin Oakley, HHS press secretary.
Prior to the happy hour, five representatives of AHCJ met with HHS media officials for an hour, in an informal, off-the-record conversation about improving communication between the department and reporters.
AHCJ members attending the afternoon meeting were Felice Freyer, AHCJ vice president, chair of the Right to Know Committee, and Boston Globe health reporter; Sabriya Rice, vice chair of the Right to Know Committee and Knight Chair of Health and Medical Journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia; Julie Appleby, secretary of AHCJ board of directors and senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News; and D.C. chapter co-chairs Kimberly Leonard from the Washington Examiner and Tina Reed from Fierce Healthcare.