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Philadelphia Chapter

Want to get involved in the chapter? Contact Karl Stark at

Upcoming events

None currently scheduled. Please check back soon. 

Past events

Apr. 1: Chapter meeting at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Members joined heart experts from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to learn more about how far that field has come – and where it’s going.

Attendees had the opportunity to meet some of CHOP’s world-renowned experts, hear about groundbreaking research in the field, see the newest devices available for the smallest children in heart failure, and hear a family tell their dramatic story about childhood heart failure and the wait for a heart transplant.

Here’s a list of topics:

  • History of heart transplant and heart failure treatment at CHOP; Thomas Spray, M.D. , chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery Susan Nicolson, M.D., pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist

  • Current Treatment for Heart Failure in Children and Young Adults; Joseph Rossano, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.C., medical director of the Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program at CHOP.

  • Surgical procedures for VADs and the art of heart transplant; J. William Gaynor, M.D, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, Chris Mascio, M.D., pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Lisa Montenegro, M.D., pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist Talya Frey, B.S., C.C.P., L.P., F.P.P., perfusionist

  • "Living with a VAD and waiting for a heart transplant: Our experience," The Voltmer family

  • Research Update, Joseph Rossano, M.D.

Jan. 29:

More than a dozen journalists gathered at the ECRI Institute's Plymouth Meeting, Pa., research campus, for sessions focused on gadgets, the built environment and safety innovations on Jan. 29.

Sept. 26: Fetal surgery expert event at CHOP

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is hosting a Philadelphia chapter meeting for the Association of Health Care Journalists on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

The focus is on fetal surgery, a field that has delivered big changes in spina bifida treatment and other complex conditions diagnosed before birth.

June 18 — State health law implementation: Race to the starting line

Please join the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists on Tuesday, June 18 for a special event to explore the challenges that Pennsylvania and New Jersey face this year leading up to the 2014 health law changes.  

Date: June 18

Time: 6 p.m. beer/wine and appetizers, 6:30-7:30 p.m. briefing to be followed by a briefing open to the public from 8 to 9 p.m..

Location: Philadelphia Inquirer Public Room (801 Market St. #300). Parking is across the street, at 8th and Market.

This year the giant health law begins to move into its most climactic phase. Tens of millions of people are about to get health insurance, and this meeting will help reporters understand the epic challenges ahead. The health law requires that everyone carry insurance by 2014, and new, online exchanges are meant to help individuals and small businesses obtain coverage. About half of states – including Pennsylvania and New Jersey – are leaving the creation and operation of the exchanges to the federal government. Insurers have begun to submit plan types and proposed premiums to federal regulators, and details are expected to be publicly announced by August. Enrollment is planned to start in October with the first plans going live in January, 2014.

Yet another big change is the expansion of Medicaid, which states can accept or reject. New Jersey has chosen to expand its program, while Pennsylvania will not.

These developments mark the biggest changes in health insurance in more than a generation and will raise many questions. How will federal insurance exchanges work? Will they even get off the ground by the Oct. 1 deadline? Will people know how to enroll? Will the plans be affordable? Without the Medicaid expansion, many of Pennsylvania’s estimated 1.4 million uninsured may be unable to participate. What does this mean for them and for the financial health of hospitals? With so many more people covered in both states, will there be a shortage of physicians, as many experts expect?

This briefing will help you answer these questions for your readers, viewers and listeners.


  •  Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation and former Obama administration official
  • Gerald Katz, owner, Healthcare Management Consulting
  • Uwe Reinhardt, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University
  • Karl Stark, health editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Moderator: Marilyn Werber Serafini, communications director and health policy adviser at the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health policy group in Washington, DC

Please RSVP to Marilyn Serafini 240-401-3514

This briefing is sponsored by AHCJ, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

March 5

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is holding an open house on March 5 from 5:30 to 8 pm for AHCJ members. It’s a great way to get in the mood for the AHCJ national conference in Boston (Mar.14-17). And even if you’re not going to Boston, this free event promises to produce some good story leads involving the cardiac care of children and adult survivors.

An In-depth Look at Advances in the Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects – From Before Birth Through Adulthood

The Cardiac Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia invites you to a private event with some of the country's pre-eminent experts in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease.

Talk with the cardiac experts at CHOP about the latest cutting-edge advances and research in fetal imaging, cardiac catheterization, ventricular assist devices and transplant options, and learn how care for adults with congenital heart disease has evolved. The event will take place in the Cardiac Center's state-of-the-art facilities.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Light dinner and dessert reception included


The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104


Parking is available at CHOP's Wood Center underground garage, located in Osler Circle. For a map and driving directions, visit


Please respond by Feb. 22 to Joey McCool Ryan at 267-426-6070 or

Featured experts include:

  • Yoav Dori, M.D.
  • Stephanie Fuller, M.D.
  • Matt Gillespie, M.D.
  • Yuli Kim, M.D.
  • Joseph Rossano, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.C.
  • Jack Rychik, M.D., F.A.C.C.
  • Robert Shaddy, M.D.
  • Thomas Spray, M.D.

Dec. 14: Implementing health reform in the states

Sponsored by AHCJ, Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Hors d’oeuvres available at 5:30 p.m. Soft drinks, wine and beer provided at no charge.
This event, for reporters only, will be followed by a separate briefing for the general public from 8 to 9 p.m., sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirerand WTXF Fox29.

WHERE: Philadelphia Inquirer (400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215/854-2000 – Follow signs in the front lobby)

SPONSORS: Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), Alliance for Health Reform, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

RSVP: By noon, Monday, December 12, to Eric Rosenthal, chair of the Philadelphia chapter of AHCJ (

NOTE: Although AHCJ is cosponsoring this event, you don’t need to be a member of AHCJ to attend.

The health care overhaul law passed by Congress in 2010 sets out national goals and requirements. But many of the key decisions implementing the law are left to the states.   

For example, states have a lot of leeway in how they set up health insurance exchanges, where individuals and small business will be able to buy coverage starting in 2014. Florida and Louisiana have said they will refuse to set up exchanges, meaning the federal government will organize exchanges in those states. Other states are planning their exchanges, even while asking courts to toss out the law entirely.   

Still other states are working to change their health care systems in ways that go beyond the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Vermont, for example, wants the Obama Administration’s approval to put in place a Canadian-style single-payer system. Oregon wants to allow public employees to enroll in Medicaid.   

What’s happening in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states to implement exchanges and other aspects of the health reform law? How are states preparing for the law’s Medicaid expansion in a time of budget deficits? As they plan for reform, how are states addressing tough issues such as health care for undocumented immigrants and cutbacks in mental health services? How do states go about getting waivers from the reform law, and how many might take advantage of that option?   

This briefing will help you better answer these questions for your readers, viewers and listeners. 

Robert Field, professor of law, health management and policy at Drexel University – Dr. Field is an expert on health law and public health, and is the author of a comprehensive guide to government regulation of health care in the U.S. His research focuses on ethical issues in health reform, genetic screening, managed care and public policy.

Joel Ario was director of the federal Office of Insurance Exchanges from 2009 until September of this year. In that post, he was the person most directly responsible for helping states set up their health insurance exchanges, and for organizing exchanges in states choosing not to do so on their own. He is a former insurance commissioner for the State of Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey Brenner is the founder and executive director of the Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers in New Jersey, which is working to improve the health status of Camden residents by increasing capacity, quality and access to care. A family physician, he has practiced in Camden for 11 years. His work in Camden was spotlighted in a Jan. 24 New Yorker article by Atul Gawande.

Karl Stark is health and science editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and vice president of the Association of Health Care Journalists’ Board of Directors. He has worked as The Inquirer's pharmaceuticals reporter, national/foreign editor, deputy editor of science and medicine, and covered health care extensively as a business reporter. He has won many awards for his investigative work, including the National Press Club's Consumer Story of the Year.

Ed Howard
, executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health policy group in Washington, D.C.

Nov. 28: An Advance Look at Pediatric Cancer Research and Treatment Discoveries

An update on advances in pediatric oncology research and treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) on Monday, Nov. 28, 5:30-8 p.m. Download a PDF flier with details.

The event is free, includes light refreshments and is open to health care journalists from the Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., chapters, as well as from other regions who are interested in attending.

Philadelphia Meets with Top HHS Public Affairs Officials Sept. 16

Philadelphia-area AHCJ chapter members will meet with top HHS public affairs officials Friday, Sept. 16, from 6:30-8:30 pm at ABC's WPVI-TV 6, 4100 City Ave., Philadelphia, to discuss issues related to accessing information and experts working for federal agencies under the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Richard Sorian, HHS assistant secretary for public affairs, and deputy assistant secretary Dori Salcido will explain the workings of the HHS public affairs office and discuss concerns about access to federal information.  Sorian reports directly to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sorian met with AHCJ President Charles Ornstein and other AHCJ members in Washington DC a few months ago, and hopes to visit with various chapters.

The Philadelphia meeting was organized by chapter chair Eric Rosenthal, and is being hosted by WPVI's Dawn Heefner, thanks to station president and general manager Bernie Prazenica.

Space is limited and reservations are required for this free event that will include a light supper and free parking.

Contact Rosenthal at 610-649-1375 or for additional information.

Philly chapter meets at Drexel

The Philadelphia chapter of Association of Health Care Journalists will hold an open meeting on Jan. 25 at the Drexel University College of Medicine. This is an opportunity for journalists to meet some major figures at Drexel and delve into the worlds of surgery, drug development, electronic medical records and the new health bill that Congress is poised to pass.  

The session is designed to focus on Drexel faculty who will be making news in the next year.  Speakers will get about 15-20 minutes. So reporters can get a taste of many subjects and follow up later. You don't have to be an AHCJ member to attend.

The meeting is set for 4-6 p.m. at Drexel's Geary Auditorium, New College Building, Auditorium B (245 N. 15th Street). Free parking will be available across 15th Street.  (Details to come.) Ideas and suggestions are welcome. Just e-mail Karl Stark at

A preliminary list of speakers:

Richard V. Homan, M.D., Annenberg Dean & Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Drexel University College of Medicine

2nd Speaker TBA (expert on health bill and its far-reaching effects)
Topics: Health bill (finances, uninsured), Changes/Trends in the Medical Care Workforce, Need for residency slots to create more doctors.

Paul Curcillo, M.D., Associate Professor & Vice Chair, Department of Surgery
Future Trends in Minimally Invasive Surgery - How small can we go?

Carol Lippa, M.D., Professor, Department of Neurology & Director, Memory Disorders Center
Alzheimer's Disease - New Statistics and New Hope

James Barrett, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
New Drug Development - What changes in Pharma mean for research

Edgar Chou, M.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Internal Medicine & Clinical Informatics Chief
Electronic Health Records: Drexel's innovative system

To make suggestions for future meetings, contact Eric Rosenthal at

July 27: Media Briefing: Anticipating Tomorrow's Cancer Treatments

This three-hour event is open to all AHCJ members. It's planned as a fast-moving summary of the institution's highlights. Most presenters will speak for 15 minutes. The subjects will range from trends in personalized medicine and women's cancer to advances in radiation oncology and robotic surgery. Fox Chase maintains these researchers are all likely to make news in the next 12 months. There's no guarantee, of course.

The program includes lunch which reporters can purchase. See a full schedule. If you go, RSVP to Karl Starl ( or Fox Chase's Frank Hoke at

Philadelphia chapter meets with OncoLink

Despite icy weather, about 20 AHCJ members, journalism students and educators, and other health care journalists ventured out Jan. 6 to learn about the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center's OncoLink –  the oldest and largest cancer information resource on the Internet, according to its editor-in-chief, James Metz, M.D.

Metz, a radiation oncologist on Penn's faculty, and Maggie Hampshire, R.N., B.S.N., O.C.N., an oncology nurse who is the site's managing editor, said that OncoLink was founded in 1994 by cancer specialists at Penn to help provide cancer patients and their families as well as health care professionals and the public with accurate and free cancer-related information.

Produced by Penn physicians and nurses and updated daily, the resource offers comprehensive information about different cancers, treatments, and research advances, as well as a program that allows cancer survivors to create individualized plans for their follow-up care.

This was the third program presented by AHCJ's Philadelphia chapter, which was formed in mid-2008. Previously, members met with Sir Ian Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996, and attended a workshop on health care reporting led by Gary Schwitzer.

Virtual attendees take part in workshop

About 30 people gathered at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia on Nov. 17, while about 20 others joined the meeting online, to hear Gary Schwitzer and his colleague Kathleen Fairfield, M.D., Dr.P.H. discuss the Web site's health news coverage project .

The workshop was the third one presented to AHCJ chapters, following road trips to Chicago and San Francisco.

Schwitzer and Fairfield, one of the project's medical editors, shared data on how news organizations have performed on 10 criteria for accurate, balanced and complete coverage; reflected on trends observed in the coverage of health care news; and provided tips about evaluating claims made about new health care treatments, tests, products and procedures.

Veteran health care journalists and students attended the meeting.

June 12, 7:30 p.m.

Sir Ian Wilmut, director of MRC Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who is perhaps best known for leading the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996, will meet with the Association of Health Care Journalists’ Philadelphia chapter Thursday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sir Ian will be in Philadelphia for the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting.

For further information, contact Eric Rosenthal, 610-649-1375 or

Plans in the works for newly formed Philadelphia chapter

The Association of Health Care Journalists' newly formed Philadelphia chapter held a preliminary organizational meeting on May 1 at The Philadelphia Inquirer, hosted by Karl Stark, AHCJ board member and treasurer.

In addition to Stark, others attending were writer Nicole Nader Gabor; freelancer Deborah Stern Silver; Inquirer public health reporter John Sullivan, Scientist associate editors Alla Katsnelson and Edyta Zielinska; Dan Keller of Keller Broadcasting and Eric Rosenthal, Oncology Times special correspondent.

The group is looking for other area AHCJ members to increase its critical mass, provide stimulating suggestions for speakers and venues, and contribute to journalistic collegiality in the greater-Philadelphia region.

We hope to hold our first event in June or July, and want to know about your interest in joining us and what you would like to see planned.

Some early suggestions include a leading autism researcher and clinician; a Penn MD who does studies on meditation; experts who can describe major trends in cancer, heart disease, diabetes or other areas; an experienced medical school librarian who can suggest new ways to do research, and discussions regarding public health priorities.

For more information, please contact Eric Rosenthal at or 610-649-1375.