Tag Archives: california healthcare foundation

Calif. center, ethnic outlets partner to examine elderly day care’s demise

The California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting partnered with no fewer than nine different organizations to produce a sprawling story package examining the impact of the looming closure of many of California’s adult day health care centers. (Since the project launched, California reached a legal settlement that will allow adults most at risk of institutionalization to continue to receive services previously provided by adult day health centers. Existing centers will be able to provide services through the end of Feb. 2012. See this write-up in California Healthline.)

Jocelyn Wiener’s centerpiece stands alone, but the package really gains steam when you take the time to consider its full breadth and depth.

For those new to the issue, here’s Wiener’s primer and a hint as to why the package grew out of a collaboration with a kaleidoscope of ethnic media organizations.

Los Angeles County – especially its many ethnic minority communities –will be hit hardest by the closures. According to state data, the county is home to more than 60 percent of the program’s 38,000 enrollees statewide. One quarter have dementia. Forty percent are incontinent. Nearly half have a psychiatric diagnosis. More than 70 percent do not speak English.

The centers provide them with transportation, meals, exercise, medication management, physical and occupational therapy, as well as robust social programs that many participants say have renewed their will to live.

Health journalists will find Richard Kipling’s “how we did it” piece to be a natural entry point. Kipling unspools the narrative of how a brief suggestion became an anything-but-brief compendium of multilingual, multicultural, multigenerational reporting. Kipling’s blog also serves as a useful roadmap to the project.

Watch the AHCJ website for more about how this project was reported.

If the video doesn’t appear on your page, please click through to :Bibiana Viernes: Her Center, Her Life” from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

CHCH Center, Sac Bee investigate hospital-acquired infections

In a series titled “Death by Complication,” the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting and The Sacramento Bee teamed up to investigate hospital-acquired infections in the state as well as efforts to combat them.

In the centerpiece, the CHCF’s Deborah Schoch used records and privacy waivers granted by a cooperative family to explore how an apparent hospital-acquired C. difficile infection seems to have killed an otherwise healthy 75-year-old man who was originally hospitalized for a broken femur. The cause of death was listed as “complications.” His story was far from unique, Schoch writes.

One in 20 hospital patients get infections. In California, roughly 200,000 people get hospital infections annually, and 12,000 of them die, according to state Department of Public Health statistics. That makes such infections one of the state’s leading causes of death, ahead of automobile accidents and Alzheimer’s disease.

Yet these deaths have remained mostly in the shadows. They often are classified as “deaths from complications,” an oblique term used in obituaries and often unquestioned by relatives and friends.

Even the best doctors can be baffled whether an infection was acquired before or after a patient was admitted, and if it was the principal cause of death or no factor at all.

Many health care providers historically have viewed hospital infections – going by obscure names or acronyms such as C.diff, CLABSI, VRE and the more familiar MRSA – as a sometimes inevitable consequence of being hospitalized.

In related pieces, reporters find that while hospitals are waking up to the toll taken by hospital-acquired infections, neither they nor the state have really managed to take authoritative measures to address the problem.

See the full series, complete with infographics, on CHCF’s site.

New website features center’s health reporting

A new website marks the first anniversary of the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, which partners with local news organizations to produce in-depth reporting projects on health-related topics.

David Westphal, the Center’s editor-in-chief, reports it has done 17 projects that have appeared in 31 California newspapers.

The project, funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, is an example of the growing trend in new models of journalism organizations.

“We think this is a model that will grow, and may well have applications in other locales and other sectors,” Westphal says.

The new website features “roughly 175 stories written by reporters working for the center or our newspaper partners; and scores of photographs and multimedia elements.”


Calif. organization names AHCJ members to staff

The new California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting has announced its editorial staff. The Center, a grant-funded organization led by Michael Parks, has hired five AHCJ members:

  • Editor-in-chief: David Westphal
  • Managing editor: Richard Kipling
  • Senior writer: Emily Bazar
  • Senior writer: John Gonzales
  • Senior writer: Deborah Schoch

The Center started as a pilot project in 2008 with “Sowing Hope,” a series in the Merced Sun-Star that Kipling and Schoch worked on. Since then, the organization has taken on several other projects.

Parks told me in 2008 that the California HealthCare Foundation decided to fund the pilot project because it believed coverage of health policy in the state was flagging. According to this week’s release, “The Center is funded by a three-year, $3.285 million grant from the California HealthCare Foundation, an Oakland-based independent, non-profit philanthropy whose mission is to improve the health and health care of all Californians.” Parks said he aims to complete at least 50 major projects during that period.


Calif. foundation backs new model; will be hiring

The board of directors of the California HealthCare Foundation met over the weekend and approved funding to create the California Center for Health Care Journalism. For the past several months, the center has been a pilot project managed by former Los Angeles Times editor Michael Parks. The Foundation’s initial commitment of $3.46 million will fund the effort for the next three years at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications.

Michael Parks

Michael Parks

The center has been focusing on reporting partnerships with media in California to help deepen coverage of health care and health policy. AHCJ previously reported on a partnership with the Merced Sun Star. Over the next few months, USC will oversee the hiring of an editor in chief, managing editor, senior writer, reporter and multimedia editor, to be based in Los Angeles or Sacramento.

And a heads-up to AHCJ members:

Spencer Sherman, the foundation’s director of publishing and communication, will be attending Health Journalism 2009 in Seattle this week. He’s willing to meet with journalists interested in applying for one of those jobs as time allows. Send him a note of interest at ssherman@chcf.org.