Christine Herman, health reporter at Illinois Public Media, and Sebastián Martínez Valdivia, public health reporter at KBIA and adjunct instructor at the Missouri School of Journalism, join four incumbents on the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2021-22 board of directors.
Incumbents starting a new term include Marlene Harris-Taylor, managing producer at NPR/PBS affiliate ideastream; Jeanne Erdmann, a Missouri-based freelancer; Felice Freyer, health reporter at The Boston Globe; and Gideon Gil, managing editor at STAT.
While deaths from COVID-19 have naturally been a major focus over the past 18 months, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a significant and growing problem. Even during the pandemic, heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2020. More than 868,000 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year. That’s one-third of all deaths.
Nearly a quarter of men (23%) and 14% of women between ages 60 and 79 have some type of heart disease and millions more are at risk due to hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, family history, or other risk factors.
The pandemic may have even worsened rates of CVD, as many people avoided or delayed routine health care and management of chronic conditions. For those over 80, the rate of CVD jumps to 36% for men and 21% for women. As the population of older adults in the U.S. increases to a projected 22% in 2050, heart disease will continue to impact mortality and morbidity rates. So it makes sense to become familiar with one of the leading types of heart disease, atherosclerosis. Continue reading
Marshall Allen (Photo by James Carbone)
One of the themes in journalist Marshall Allen’s book is that few American leaders — neither politicians nor the chief executives of American companies — have been willing to fight back against high and rising health care costs. Therefore, the work of taking on the medical industry and health insurers falls to consumers, writes Allen, an award-winning investigative journalist for ProPublica.
His book, Never Pay the First Bill. And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win, came out June 22 from Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. Continue reading
AHCJ has called on President Biden to honor Independence Day by turning his attention to improving government transparency, “a cornerstone of democracy.”
In a letter sent Tuesday, AHCJ President Ivan Oransky points out that “health care reporters, especially, must have access to complete and accurate facts because what we write influences life-and-death choices that people make.”
The statement praises Biden’s cordial relationship with the media and open coronavirus briefings earlier this year but adds: “Our members tell us that getting information from the federal government remains one of their biggest challenges.” Continue reading
San Diego Union-Tribune health care reporter Paul Sisson was working on a home improvement project on a Sunday in early May when he received an urgent call from one of his editors. Scripps Health, the area’s second-largest health system in patient discharges, had announced that a cyberattack was forcing the shutdown of all computer systems in its four major hospitals, and the news desk needed help covering the issue. Sisson, an AHCJ member, jumped in, and ended up working until midnight.
Sisson said the typical email channels he used to contact the health system’s public affairs officers, its CEO and other sources were offline, and the hospital was limited in what it could confirm, forcing him to call on sources and skills cultivated during some 20 years of reporting. Despite Sisson’s experience, it was his first time covering a ransomware attack. He has compiled the lessons learned into a new tip sheet, which has been added to the Health IT Core Topic section of AHCJ’s website. Continue reading