Author Archives: Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at

Texas outlet takes aim at rural ‘news desert’

Photo: Susan HeaveyThe Texas Observer becomes the latest news outlet to tackle rural issues, including health care. Its new Rural Reporting Project will devote a full-time reporter and some freelancers to the subject.

One of the biggest challenges of covering rural America – including its health issues – is one that plagues journalism at large: cost and access.

One Texas media outlet is taking direct aim at the challenge with a new infusion of funding, according to Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan.

The Emerson Collective, a group founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, has given the Texas Observer enough funding to boost its coverage of rural issues, including a full-time reporter supplemented by a network of freelancers, Sullivan wrote earlier this month. Continue reading

How paying home health caregivers more could save health systems money

Photo: BournemouthBC via Flickr

Is it worth it to provide more skilled – and higher paying – home health care?

That is the question that New York Times’ economic columnist Eduardo Porter tackled in a recent piece examining whether staffing the nation’s long-term care system with better-trained and higher-paid aides could give them more responsibilities and better address health care gaps. Continue reading

KHN reporter turns release into poignant story on affordability

Photo: Mike Albans for Kaiser Health NewsMontana home care worker Celeste Thompson worries about being able to afford doctor visits if she loses her Medicaid coverage.

Shefali Luthra knows that too often press releases landing in a journalist’s inbox often go nowhere. But working with her editor, the Kaiser Health News (KHN) reporter turned that standard media outreach into a humanizing look at how current health reform efforts may affect home health care workers, who themselves often struggle for care and coverage.

Luthra reached out to various groups to find workers willing to talk about how the 2010 Affordable Care Act affected them – and how Republican efforts to dismantle the law could impact their own health. Continue reading

In Baltimore, AHCJ fellows focus on health gaps

Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJAHCJ Regional Fellows hear from Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, during their kickoff event in Baltimore. The focus of the kickoff was social determinants and health disparities.

A flyer floating along the sidewalk on the way to AHCJ’s 2017-18 Regional Fellows meeting in Baltimore last month seemed to preview the challenges and discussions for the days ahead.

“Cash for diabetic test strips,” it read. Instead of patients using the strips to test their blood sugar, they were being encouraged instead to turn in their unopened boxes “and get cash on the spot!!”

It was an example of the health hurdles facing many residents here that nearly a dozen fellows from the Mid-Atlantic region would grapple with during their July gathering in Maryland’s biggest city. Continue reading

Seeking ways to report on adversity and kids’ health

Photo: Norbert Eder via Flickr

A growing number of reporters are taking another look at adverse childhood experiences when it comes to health in both children and adults.

Such events, known as ACEs, are getting the attention of local and national leaders as well as health care professionals looking for other ways to tackle patient’s ailments beyond the exam room. Continue reading