Author Archives: Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch

About Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch (@DeborahSchoch) is a California-based independent journalist whose COVID-19 coverage has appeared in The New York Times and AARP. She is a member of the AHCJ Right-to-Know Committee.

Court ruling validates speech rights for health workers

A federal appeals court in Boston has upheld the right of a hospital employee to speak to the media, in a case likely to ripple across the private sector and make it harder for employers to issue blanket gag orders.

The U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, ordered a Maine hospital last month to repudiate a rule that barred employees from answering inquiries from the media or providing information without the “direct involvement” of the Community Relations Department. It also ordered the hospital to reinstate an employee who was fired after writing a letter to the local newspaper that described staff turnover and morale problems. Continue reading

Don’t be late to #AHCJ18: Program kicks off with D.C. pros revealing how they get their stories

One journalist’s deep-dive reporting paid off when she made it to an airport just in time to witness U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price leaving a gold-colored private jet. The ensuing stories revealed Price’s penchant for luxury travel at taxpayer expense and led to his resignation.

A pair of print and television journalists teamed up to uncover how Congressional deal-making torpedoed an opioid crackdown by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Because of their coverage, Rep. Tom Marino, who had championed the deal in Congress, withdrew his name as President Trump’s nominee for U.S. drug czar.

They are among five reporters – experts in prying news out of federal health agencies – who will share their stories and offer advice at Health Journalism 2018, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Phoenix. Continue reading

Calif. reporter finds dearth of public records on assisted-living homes

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I knew next to nothing about the fast-growing assisted-living industry when I started reporting in early 2013 on problem homes in San Diego.

For example, I did not know that many seniors in today’s assisted-living homes are so frail and medically needy that they would have been in nursing homes 20 or 30 years ago. Many live in facilities with no medically trained staff.

Most astonishing to me was the lack of public access to state regulatory reports revealing the quality of care in homes, not only in California but nationally. We’re so accustomed to NursingHomeCompare and HospitalCompare – whatever their flaws – that the hoops families and journalists must leap through to judge an assisted-living home’s quality seem downright primitive. Continue reading