Tag Archives: pandemic

Fixing the public health system for the next pandemic

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.

Hotel floor sticker

Photo: Bryan Alexander via Flickr

The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Congress last month, will be sending about $100 billion into the U.S. public health system — money which is badly needed. But it isn’t enough for the long-term to prepare for the next pandemic.

The pandemic laid bare what had long been known — the nation’s federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public health agencies have been underfunded for decades. When SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began spreading, public health departments were so understaffed and working with such antiquated information systems that they could not respond to the fast-spreading pathogen quickly. Continue reading

Mental health services benefitting from telehealth expansion during pandemic

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

Facetime call screen

Photo: clappstar vis Flickr

Amid the mental and behavioral challenges fueled by COVID-19, expanded telehealth capabilities have contributed to a surge in mental health care. Use of the technology appears to have contributed to fewer no-show psychiatric and other counseling appointments among both new and existing patients and expanded access to care for patients in regions that pre-pandemic were bearing the brunt of the nation’s lack of mental health providers.

Once we’re safely past this pandemic, at least some emergency telemedicine expansions, granted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state governors, likely will remain. As that future is being sorted out, it’s important to consider what’s beneficial and what’s concerning about treating mental illnesses from a distance. Continue reading

How one journalist pivoted her writing during the pandemic

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.

Stephani Sutherland

Stephani Sutherland

At the beginning of the pandemic, Stephani Sutherland, a freelance writer focused on chronic pain issues, was — like many writers — finding that publications suddenly wanted COVID-19 stories and not much else.

Sutherland, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, decided to get up to speed in areas of infectious diseases and virology as fast as she could. As she delved into the research, she learned about an interesting connection between pain research and some of the long-term symptoms being felt by those infected with SARS-CoV-2, such as brain fog and loss of smell. Continue reading

Resources for journalists covering COVID-19 “long-haulers”

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.

Coronavirus CG Illustration

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

COVID-19 has been around for just a year, so research about the long-term impact of the disease is sparse, but early data indicate that around 10% to 15% of those infected have symptoms for many weeks, even months, after tests show their body is no longer infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Two medical experts – Kathleen Bell, M.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center professor and chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Allison Navis, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Neuro-Infectious Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai – shared this data and other information about what is known about COVID “long-haulers” during a Feb. 12 media briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. You can watch a recording of the briefing here. Continue reading

Biden administration pledges open access to briefings after AHCJ raises concerns

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

A spokesman for President Biden’s administration has pledged that any legitimate reporter who signs up with the White House press office will be invited to briefings and provided with embargoed background materials.

The promise came after AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee protested the practice of holding small group briefings with select reporters.

The press official denied that there had been any attempt to exclude people and objected to characterizing the press briefings as “closed.” Instead, he said, the White House press staff is working on updating its mailing lists. Continue reading

Poll: Lack of online medical accounts for seniors could affect COVID vaccination scheduling

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.

woman at laptop

Photo: Kimberly B. via Flickr

With most major health systems using patient portals for scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations, many older adults may need help setting up accounts. This situation is considered especially true for those older people with lower incomes and education levels, according to data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

The poll finds that 45% of adults aged 65 to 80, and 42% of all adults aged 50 to 80, said they had not set up an account with their health provider’s portal system. Continue reading