Tag Archives: wahlberg

Wahlberg offers advice on avoiding unfortunate incident

It’s the kind of call every journalist dreads.

David Wahlberg, of the Wisconsin State Journal, writes that a call from the medical examiner to his editor on July 22 started the worst day of his 22-year journalism career.

David Wahlberg

David Wahlberg

A patient featured in his front-page story about a new treatment for brain aneurysms, who was quoted as saying she felt “fantastic” after having the procedure, had died six days before the article was published. She died from a hemorrhage in a different part of her brain from where her aneurysm had been and other factors may have contributed to the bleeding. But when Wahlberg wrote the story, the patient was at home, doing well, with no warning signs.

In a forthright article for AHCJ, Wahlberg explains how this unfortunate episode happened, explores ways it could have been avoided and shares lessons for both journalists and health care providers. Read more …

Reporter’s narrative illuminates little-researched birth defect

When Wisconsin State Journal reporter David Wahlberg investigated what appeared to be rural Wisconsin’s increase in gastroschisis, a rare birth defect in which the intestines grow outside of an infant’s body and must be replaced after delivery, the lack of institutional research, statistics or easy answers seemed to raise far more questions than it answered, particularly in relation to rural incidence and pesticide use.

Wahlberg’s solution to this roadblock is to dive headlong into the human component of the story. In a two-part narrative (Part 1, Part 2), he puts these larger questions on the back burner and instead follows a family, in real time, as they deliver an infant boy who had been diagnosed with the condition during an ultrasound. No amount of summary would do Wahlberg’s piece justice, so I encourage you to simply invest a few minutes and bury yourself in the details. You’ll exit with an understanding of the condition and the toll it takes that no amount of statistical analysis could match.

Rural health on the frontier

A defining feature of reporter David Wahlberg’s ongoing look at rural health care for the Wisconsin State Journal has been his willingness to look beyond the state’s borders, as with his recent piece on health care navigators in Kentucky.

In his latest installment, he looks to Montana, not just for a model, but for perspective. In Montana, he finds that all rural health challenges are created equally, and that the rural areas of the Mountain West and western Great Plains are so remote that the term “rural health” just doesn’t do their situation justice. Instead, they deal with “frontier health,” where the only hospital in driving distance can’t afford to deliver babies, and hospitals have to fly patients hundreds of miles just so they can have access to adequate blood supplies.

Only 4 percent of Wisconsin residents live in frontier counties. In Montana, that number is 54 percent. Wyoming is even higher. “Frontier” counties are generally considered to be those with a population density of fewer than seven people per square mile. For those interested, the State Journal included a map of such counties alongside the story.

Boulton, Wahlberg named Kaiser Media Fellows

AHCJ members Guy Boulton, a business reporter covering health care and health insurance for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and David Wahlberg, a health and medicine reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wis., are among nine journalists selected as 2009 Kaiser Media Fellows.

The fellows will focus on health policy issues, attending briefings with experts and working on in-depth projects . They also will get training in multimedia reporting techniques.

Boulton’s in-depth reporting will concentrate on efficiency and effectiveness in medical care. Wahlberg will look at challenges in providing health care services to rural communities.

The other fellows and their projects:

  • Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., “The Doctor’s World” columnist and former senior medical correspondent, The New York Times. Reporting on the health of presidential and political candidates.
  • Paula Andalo, managing editor, El Tiempo Latino, Washington, D.C. The role community clinics play in providing care for Hispanic immigrants.
  • Allison Aubrey, health correspondent, National Public Radio, Washington, D.C. Creating a culture of wellness: what are the key steps needed?
  • Sindya N. Bhanoo, freelance contributor, The Washington Post Health Section,
    San Francisco. eHealth-balancing the benefits of electronic medical records with privacy concerns.
  • Monique Fields, metro reporter, The Birmingham (Ala.) News. The Mental Health Parity Act and its impact on mental health care in Alabama.
  • Mark N. Trahant, freelance journalist, former editorial page editor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health reform debate.
  • Anita Wadhwani, freelance journalist, Nashville. Cuts to the TennCare program and the impact on patients.

The Kaiser Media Fellowships in Health program is run by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.