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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

OECD reports highlight gaps behind life expectancy gains

Chart: How’s Life 2017, www.oecd.orgA pair of recent reports published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development could offer health journalists some story ideas on disparities for 2018.

People on average are living longer, overall. However, a pair of recent reports from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers a closer look at the reasons for this improvement, including long-known disparities among groups that lead certain populations not to do as well. Continue reading

In California, housing crunch exacts toll as hepatitis deaths grow

Photo: Courtesy of the San Diego Union TribuneTent “cities” have swelled in southern California, creating crowded and unsanitary conditions.

Along the southern California coastline, surging development has triggered a housing boom that has also come at a heavy price for health.

Numerous outlets have been tracking what U.S. health officials say is the deadliest outbreak of hepatitis A in the country, according to The Washington Post. State officials have declared an emergency, and officials are scrambling to contain the spread of infection in one of the country’s most densely populated areas.

Continue reading

Strong social media presence helps Md. reporter cover her community’s opioid crisis

Photo: nadja robot via Flickr

For Heather Wolford, a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering the growing opioid crisis in the rural hills of Western Maryland was, quite literally, a calling.

Now two years into her health coverage of the epidemic, Wolford was driven by a journalist’s instinct to find out what was happening in her community, from those using the drugs, police officers and government officials, to family members on all sides of the crisis.

“When I repeatedly heard daily overdose calls over the office scanner, I asked my boss if I could dive into the crisis,” she said. Continue reading

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