The first time I spent a significant amount of time in a hospital, a surgeon was operating on my fatherâ€™s spine.
He had spinal stenosis, which meant the spaces in his spine were narrowing and creating pressure. He had to have three of his discs replaced with cadaver discs and a titanium plate screwed to his spine to hold it in place.
When the surgery went on an hour longer than scheduled, I understood what it meant to associate a hospital waiting room with quiet and steady, yet gripping and unrelenting, fear.
When my mom, sister and I were finally ushered into a room where we found my dad perfectly healthy, I understood what overflowing gratitude for the strangers skilled enough to care for those I love most feels like.
I took over the role of health care reporter with The Times-Dispatch two weeks ago.
In addition to keeping readers updated on the most recent health news, I want my coverage to be rooted in what I learned in that waiting room. It may be a multimillion-dollar industry, but the foundation of health care lies in the pain and joy of the people who sit in hospitals every day, waiting.
I want to write about them.
Iâ€™ve been reporting on health, among other things, since I started my journalism career in 2013. First it was with a newspaper in Virginiaâ€™s Shenandoah Valley, where one health system dominated, and then it was for an online business journal, where I solely covered the business of health. But even so, I still have a lot to learn.
My new position here means Iâ€™ll cover the whole world of health news, including new developments at area hospitals, the local angle of a national story, or a Richmond health-related company progressing through bankruptcy.
Iâ€™m interested in talking to people about their experiences. How did research at home help a patient and a physician nail down the best possible treatment? Has a national epidemic impacted area residents? What toll could a businessâ€™ Medicare fraud have on local employees?
Beyond that, Iâ€™m also curious about coverage disparities and how they play out on the local level as well as public health, womenâ€™s health and pediatrics. Iâ€™m especially interested in learning more about the differences between the American health care system and those in foreign countries, and Iâ€™m always boggled by the fact that we pay more for health care than anyone else but do not always have the best outcomes.
But what I want to write most is what interests readers, so please send your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you.