Hospice care is supposed to ease the final days for those at the end of their life, as well as their families. Sadly, it is not always the case. When hospice caregivers don’t show up, desperate calls to agencies go unanswered and loved ones are in pain, it is family caregivers who must cope, frightened and alone.
The result is what Kaiser Health News Executive Editor Elisabeth Rosenthal calls “DIY hospice care:” It is not an issue that has received much attention, but a recent investigation by KHN reporters JoNel Aleccia and Melissa Bailey found that it happens more frequently than many suspect. Continue reading
A well-known, prominent California physician. Allegations of a suspicious death. Family feuds. A recovering addict and possible affair. Elder abuse. A controversial investigation by the coroner.
While it may sound like a made-for-TV movie or the latest John Grisham novel, this life-and-death true story took journalist Charles Piller more than 10 months to investigate. Not only did Piller track and verify conflicting accounts of Jerome Lackner’s final months, but he also had to somehow navigate privacy roadblocks thrown up by hospitals, providers, the hospice facility and lawyers.
In this fascinating “How I did it,” Piller describes his five-part Sacramento Bee investigative series that may raise as many questions as it answers. He explains his efforts to answer basic questions about the roles and responsibilities of caregivers, hospitals, and hospices, and how he had to unravel a web of finger pointing by family, ex-spouses, friends and health professionals.
Without seeming to take sides, how does a reporter sift through mounds of conflicting evidence to create an engaging and coherent narrative? How can you track down reluctant key players in such a saga? How do you separate fact from fiction when family members accuse caregivers of indifference, neglect – or worse? Read about how Piller did it when investigating the death of Dr. Jerome Lackner.
Health journalists have a rare chance to get support for work on an in-depth reporting project related to the U.S. health care system.
The AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance offer financial support as well as training and personalized guidance from experienced journalists as they delve into subjects that affect local and national health outcomes.
Past projects have included: Continue reading