Tag Archives: disasters

Veteran reporter offers tips to keep yourself safe covering wildfires

Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA via Flickr

So you’re working away — perhaps at home — on a story about vaping or high prescription costs or results from a new clinical trial, not paying much attention to the news. All of a sudden your editor calls to tell you that winds have stoked a grass fire that’s now raging and headed your way. Your editor wants you to jump on it. All the other reporters are out covering other blazes or emergencies.

But you’re a health reporter, not a fire reporter! What do you know about covering this stuff? And oh, by the way, an hour later, you learn you’re going to have to evacuate your family and precious belongings from your own home as well. Continue reading

Covering preparedness, hurricanes and other natural disasters

Photo: Eric Hackathorn via Flickr

Residents of Texas will be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey for a long time to come. Journalists will remain on the scene to tell the stories of what happened and the people whose lives have been changed.

For those in other parts of the country, this is a good time to cover disaster preparedness in your community. The report “Ready or Not? 2016” from the Trust for America’s Health measured health preparedness on a state-by-state basis and found that 26 states and Washington, D.C., scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators. Continue reading

Telehealth gaining wider acceptance but hurdles remain, say #AHCJ17 panelists

Telehealth is a field that is moving towards widespread acceptance, so agreed a panel at Health Journalism 2017 in Orlando.

Many hospitals have some form of telemedicine these days, so covering the topic in a fresh way can be challenging. Continue reading

When disaster strikes: How will your community meet mental health needs of older adults?

Ambulances line up in Moore, Okla., following a deadly tornado in May 2013.

Photo by State Farm.

As the residents of Moore, Okla., begin the cleanup and recovery process from the super-tornado that destroyed the town and claimed at least two dozen lives, the physical and mental health of the older population requires special handling. This is especially true for those over age 75 and the frail elderly, who are considered vulnerable and high-risk populations, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Many older adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions – including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and dementia – and juggle multiple medications. Access to prescriptions may suddenly be cut off when someone is moved to a shelter or temporary housing. Adherence becomes an issue. Missing medical records, lack of a person’s ability to recall all prescribed medications, delays in refilling prescriptions, and stress contribute to compliance challenges.

Other physical and environmental conditions, ranging from struggles with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), to poor sensory perception, to loss of electricity and water, add to an increased sense of vulnerability, according to researchers. Temporary living conditions may exacerbate these conditions – appetite may be affected and access to some foods may be limited, which impact chronic disease management. Sleep is disrupted, mental and emotional stresses take a toll on the body and mind. Continue reading

#ahcj13 speakers featured in news about Boston Marathon bombings

If you attended Health Journalism 2013, you heard from plenty of Boston-based medical professionals, some of whom are in the news now talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. You might remember hearing from:

Ron Medzon, M.D., led AHCJ members through the SIM lab part of one of the field trips and talked with attendees about doctors and nurses communicating with patients and families about medical errors. Medzon, emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center, was on duty when victims of the bombing began arriving. He talked about the experience with Robin Young of WBUR-Boston.

Paul Summergrad, M.D., chair of psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, spoke about mental disorders at the conference, offers advice on how to care for the emotional wounds of the bombing in several articles:

And John Halamka, M.D., the chief information officer at, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, talked about communication and technology in the wake of the bombings in “Social media key in enabling quick provider response to Boston bombings,” by  Dan Bowman for FieceHealthIT. At the conference, he spoke about electronic health records.

Have you seen other panel speakers quoted in the news? If so, please let us know by posting links to the stories in the comments section.

Update: AHCJ member Naseem S. Miller, of Internal Medicine News Digital Network, interviewed Medzon and a doctor who was in the medical tent at the finish line about their experiences.

Update: AHCJ member Leana Wen writes on NPR’s Shots blog about treating patients in the aftermath of the bombing while wondering if the next patient she saw was going to be her husband.