Author Archives: Margarita Birnbaum

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About Margarita Birnbaum

Margarita Birnbaum (@mbirnbaumnews) is AHCJ's Health Equity Core Topic Leader. An independent journalist who has covered health disparities. Birnbaum’s stories have been published by WebMD, American Heart Association News, and American Indian, the magazine of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Playwright puts racism in health care on the stage

Harrison David Rivers

“Weathering,” a play that premiered last fall, takes on a public health crisis. The story centers on the grief that women carry after having a stillbirth, how they cope with it and why. But it also addresses the link between pervasive racism in health care and the concerning maternal and infant mortality rates in Black women that are much higher than those in their white counterparts. 

Harrison David Rivers, the playwright, said he was inspired to write a play that addressed the troubling trends after reading an article about the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of a young Black woman that was written by journalist and author Linda Villarosa. The play was commissioned by Penumbra Theatre, a stage company based in an African American neighborhood in St. Paul, Minn. that was August Wilson’s home theater for several years.

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Why race equity plans matter and how to report on them

Photo via Canva

Dallas is among cities, counties and other local governments that have recently adopted race equity plans. In the 2022-2023 goals and metrics report, city officials have said they want to track their goals, which include tracking air quality in certain areas and upgrading water and sewer lines in neighborhoods that haven’t seen investment for decades. There’s a line in there about improving the health of the city’s Black and Hispanic residents, who represent more than 60% of the population of the country’s ninth-largest city and are more likely than their white peers to have preventable chronic diseases. 

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A reporter considers the consequences of publishing a source’s legal status

Marc Ramirez

Millions of unauthorized immigrant adults — who represent more than 80% of immigrants living in the United States illegally — contribute to public health programs they may never benefit from because of their legal status. In a recent story that highlighted the lack of health care coverage for undocumented older people, Marc Ramirez, a national correspondent for USA TODAY, interviewed a man from Mexico, in part because the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are from Latin America.  Continue reading

Lessons learned from reporting on sex trafficking survivor stories

Sandy West

When reporter Sandy West took on an assignment to cover a Texas program that offers comprehensive mental and physical health services to survivors of sex trafficking who identify as men, she quickly delved into a topic she didn’t know much about. In a recent interview, West, an independent reporter based in Houston, talked about how she prepared for the story and things reporters should keep in mind when talking to people who share memories of difficult experiences. Her story was published in September in The Imprint.

This discussion has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Tips for reporting on inequities in access to health care in Puerto Rico

Photo by Preston Keres/U.S. Dept. of Agriculture via Flickr.

As the devastation Hurricane Fiona caused in Puerto Rico settles in, we may see more stories about the storm’s effect on access to health care. The recent news reports about the power outages suggest that primary and specialty services may be hard to come by for months, raising questions about what steps were taken to help the territory shore up its health care infrastructure after another hurricane pummeled the commonwealth five years ago.  

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