Member portal ...

Join or renew today Membership portal


Health Journalism 2019: Field trips

Sign up for Thursday field trips
This link will become active today at noon CT.For AHCJ members only

Each conference offers a selection of optional field trips showing research in action, unique patient care, the latest in medical training or public health concerns. Local hosts are given the opportunity to provide site options, as they are often area health leaders. Non-host suggestions are also considered. Seating is limited for these tours.

To be eligible to sign up for a field trip, you must be a journalist and you must be registered for the conference.

Field trip 1

See innovative health approaches to serve homeless

Bring your questions about homelessness, health care and housing to Health Care for the Homeless in downtown Baltimore. Accredited by The Joint Commission and certified by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA), this organization serves 10,000 people each year. It is innovative in its approach to health care—providing medical, dental and behavioral care through co-located, integrated teams, while also running supportive housing programs.

Staff and clients will walk you through their largest clinic, and answer questions about the role of social determinants of health in health care provision, as well as the driving forces behind their expansion into housing development.

You will engage with a cross-section of providers during a question-and-answer session, including:

  • Kevin Lindamood, M.S.W., president and CEO
  • Brandon Berryain, board member and client
  • Lilian Amaya, lead community health worker
  • Barbara DiPietro, Ph.D., senior director of policy
  • Keiren Havens, chief strategy officer
  • Parita Patel, D.D.S., dental director
  • Lawanda Williams, L.C.S.W.-C., director of housing services

Photo: Health Care for the Homeless

Learn more about Health Care for the Homeless on the Saturday panel “Community clinic inroads in oral, primary and mental health” with Chief Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Learn how to save a life from opioid overdose

Photo: Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Learn the steps to identify someone experiencing an opioid overdose, how to respond, and how to administer Narcan/Naloxone — a lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug. Reporters will come to the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to practice hands-on administration of Narcan and learn the current state of affairs in harm reduction. They will also get to talk with Meredith Kerr, a doctoral student, who leads Narcan trainings and is a member of the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition.

Across the United States, the rate of overdose deaths is a staggering 115 per day, but Narcan is readily available to the public and gives great hope for reducing the number of overdose deaths. It has been recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams that everyone carry and know how to administer Narcan.

Be a nursing student for a day

Discover what it’s like to be a nurse by viewing and experiencing interactive simulation scenarios at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Reporters will see patient manikins breathe, blink, talk and respond to treatment, while taking part in hands-on, state-of-the art scenarios — the same simulation experiences that students use to refine their clinical competence. The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s 3,926-square-foot Simulation Center includes multiple patient rooms, a control room, and equipment to teach nurses how to respond to cardiac arrest, deliver babies and more.

Photo: Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Watch advanced regenerative medicine at work

Just a decade ago, projects at the Johns Hopkins Translational Tissue Engineering Center would have been science fiction—now, they’re everyday science. Focused on regenerative medicine, the center is working toward solutions to replace organs and tissues damaged by injury or disease through a cyclic bench-to-bedside-to-bench model that encourages constant innovation. This effort requires a diverse and innovative team made of not only laboratory scientists but also engineers, clinicians and other researchers, including experts and young trainees.

See a cheekbone scaffold be 3D-printed before it’s seeded with cells. Hold and stretch a real cornea and compare it with artificial corneal tissues currently in development. Hear how the center’s researchers are not only engineering tissues but also the immune system to help avoid transplant rejection. These advances could help solve some of the world’s biggest health care problems.

How developing new tools can help optimize outcomes

Photo: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Many surgeons rely not just on the naked eye during procedures, but on a suite of high-tech tools that allow them to see much more. The Carnegie Center for Surgical Innovation is taking this advanced sight to a new level, building new tools and optimizing existing ones to improve outcomes and boost patient safety. The center is home to 10 operating rooms fitted with state-of-the-art imaging equipment of all kinds — including surgical tracking systems, mobile “C-arm” X-ray machines and endoscopic video — used for research to optimize protocols and for training future surgeons. Various other laboratories within the center are studying how light can interact with tissues to detect cancers at the earliest stages, developing new ways to navigate through the body using systems akin to GPS, and discovering better protocols to analyze images to glean novel information.

Touch 3D-printed models used to practice robotic surgeries, view tissues in a whole new way in the lab’s 7D microscope and see their prototype extremity scanner, which allows imaging of the leg during load bearing. These advances are helping surgeons in and outside Johns Hopkins achieve better results for their patients.


Field trip 2

SPARC Center (Sex Workers Promoting Action, Risk Reduction, and Community Mobilization)

Photo: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The SPARC Center for Women is one of the nation’s first full-service harm reduction centers focused on serving women engaged in the street economy but open to all women. The Baltimore-based center aims to enhance the well-being of women by providing safe and compassionate health, social, legal and drop-in services at no cost. SPARC offers case management and has an extensive outreach program that reaches 80 to 100 women, providing them with harm reduction tools such as safe sex kits, safe drug use kits, water and snacks.

Through partnerships with local agencies experienced in working with marginalized populations, the center provides a range of critical services to the women it aims to empower. SPARC offers low-barrier reproductive health care and HIV and STI testing and counseling provided by nurse practitioners and medical assistants through a partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department. Free legal services are provided through Legal Aid. In partnership with the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute, the center provides addiction management support, including induction and maintenance on suboxone and referrals to long-term drug treatment.

Facilities include showers, a laundry room and computers; women also have access to an onsite social worker and visiting providers from community partners such as the Baltimore City Health Department and Health Care for the Homeless.

The center was founded in the fall of 2018 by Susan Sherman, Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health whose work focuses on harm reduction. Since opening its doors, SPARC has served approximately 250 women through nearly 2,000 visits to the center.

Tour a live-mosquito insectary

Photo: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute’s director Nobel Laureate Peter Agre, M.D., and facility director Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Ph.D., will show journalists the insectary’s walk-in incubator, where at any given time tens of thousands mosquito eggs are being harvested and grown into mosquitos. The incubator is modeled after the humid and warm climate of equatorial Africa, where mosquitos thrive. The researchers will discuss ongoing investigations that seek to identify interactions between the mosquito vector and the human host that could, if disrupted or blocked, one day stop disease transmission.

Also on this tour, researcher Conor McMeniman, Ph.D., will show journalists the insectary’s newest facility, a specialized room equipped with a wind tunnel designed so that researchers can closely study the flight patterns of female mosquitoes towards human-related stimuli including human body odor. McMeniman will discuss his team’s research that seeks to discover insights into the mechanics of the mosquito sense of smell and ways to block it.

The insectary supports research aimed at combating mosquito-borne diseases of major public health concern including malaria, dengue and Zika, among others. Malaria alone sickens more than 200 million people worldwide each year and leads to over 430,000 annual deaths.

Learn how public health research on hearing has transformed federal policy and the technology industry

Photo: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Reporters will have a chance to visit with Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, and other Cochlear Center researchers, to try out some of the latest over-the-counter hearing technologies, and discuss changes that are coming in the next couple of years.

Researchers at the Cochlear Center have transformed our public health understanding of the impact that hearing loss — which is present in nearly 50 percent of adults over 60 — has on the brain, our cognitive abilities and risk of dementia. But research is not enough. Learn how these researchers have translated their findings directly into clinical trials and a federal law (Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017) that are reshaping how the entire hearing care and consumer technology industry functions and that will allow for disruptive innovations from companies such as Bose and Apple to benefit the 38 million Americans with hearing loss. Center researchers are now focused on disseminating this approach that has transformed U.S. policy to the rest of the world through training a generation of researchers and clinicians abroad to carry on this work.

Interactive experience at brain-studying perception labs

On this field trip, you’ll have a chance to meet dynamic experts in how the brain perceives sights and smells and get a hands-on demonstration of ongoing work in their labs.

At Jason Fischer’s Dynamic Perception Lab, through interactive experiments, people will learn how surprisingly hard it is to identify everyday scents and how critically we depend on our sense of smell. At this lab, if time allows, people can also see how the brain processes the physics of objects by trying to predict how objects will behave, and they can try a simulation that shows what it’s like to be colorblind.

With the Visual Thinking Lab and the Perception & Mind Lab, journalists can participate in an eye tracking experiment to learn how what we see affects attention, memory and cognition.

Photo: Johns Hopkins University

Bringing biomedical engineering ideas to life

The Design Studio is a 5,000-square-foot state-of-the-art work space available to biomedical engineering students to brainstorm and bring their ideas to life. Equipped with a drill press, a 3D printer, cell culture materials and much more, the studio boasts every tool necessary for students to design and redesign to perfection.

The studio features an open workspace, rapid prototyping lab, wet lab and a machine shop for students to meld the fields of engineering and technology to advance health care delivery across the globe.

Attendees will receive a tour of the facility and receive student demonstrations of recent research projects borne out of the studio.

Photo: Johns Hopkins University