Tag Archives: disaster

Public health experts discuss U.S. health systems’ disaster readiness

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

As public health officials grapple with strategies to respond to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, they face a host of challenges, from misinformation on social media and some communities’ lack of trust in government to the definition of what being “prepared” means.

That is why engaging with community leaders on emergency preparedness is especially important, two public health leaders told AHCJ members in a recent webcast. Continue reading

New tip sheet can help you cover public health emergencies

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: DIFD via Flickr

Public health emergencies often happen — from a severe flu season or measles outbreak to wildfires or a severe weather event such as a hurricane. Count on them to be a mainstay of the health beat.

Experts in health security continue to debate the readiness of the health system for emergencies. At a July 19 National Academies of Sciences event, Robert Kadlec, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), said that he believes the while the public and private sectors have plans that “have addressed a lot of continuity of operations and classical preparedness” there remains more to be done. Continue reading

Forensic odontologist faces grim task of identifying wildfire victims

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

In the wake of California’s latest spate of devastating wildfires, teams of forensic specialists have faced the grim task of assigning names to victims whose remains are brought to the morgue in Sacramento from the site of the Camp Fire in Butte County.

Sometimes, the specialists have mere fragments of the dead to work with. And sometimes those fragments are teeth, or bits of dental crowns or fillings. Continue reading

Report focuses on challenges of disaster preparedness for older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: macprohawaii (U.S. Geological Survey) via Flickr

Older adults can be especially vulnerable to natural disasters, be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or the recent eruptions from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. On top of health concerns, they often are socially isolated and lack good transportation options that can slow their response before, during and after a disaster.

Continue reading

Have a plan before tragic news breaks, Las Vegas reporter says

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.

Rachel Crosby, a metro reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reviewed her Twitter feed from her coverage of the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as part of her talk for Health Journalism 2018. The panel, “Finding organization in the chaos of mass violence,” offered a look at how journalists and health systems prepare and respond to mass tragedies.

Reporters everywhere increasingly must cover mass violence and other chaotic situations, and should make a plan before any news erupts, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Rachel Crosby told attendees at Health Journalism 2018.

Whether it’s a mass shooting, disease outbreak, natural disaster or other major event – take time now to figure out how your newsroom would report on it and how you can be best prepared, Crosby, a former crime reporter now on the metro desk, said at AHCJ’s annual conference in Phoenix. Continue reading

Puerto Rico’s elderly caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Robert Sullivan via FlickrA U.S. Army helicopter lands on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It’s been more than a month since Hurricane Maria destroyed large portions of Puerto Rico, and knocked out power to just about the entire island. Some people could wait up to six months to regain electricity; that’s a recipe for multiple health crises, one that’s sure to hit the oldest and most vulnerable residents the hardest.

This issue was the focus of a Reuter’s story in late September, about a week after Maria made landfall. Continue reading