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Doc Gurley's Urban Health Beat

Doctor-blogger Jan Gurley writes about practicing medicine on the margins of society, and what we can learn from it.

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How did we get to the point where we actually pay popular doctors more for our health care? No such system exists in any other professional or non-professional field. You can’t even pay your plumber less if she has a lower customer satisfaction score.

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There’s a growing recognition of the role that complex post-traumatic stress disorder plays in trapping people in long-term homelessness. Understanding how PTSD unfolds can help us better understand the homeless and their health issues.

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It may be hard to connect well-paid and well-conditioned pro football players with the homeless guy elbow-deep in the trashcan on your sidewalk. But when it comes to brain injuries, they have more in common than you might think.

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Most Americans know what's killing us. Stop smoking, eat better, exercise, and wear your seatbelt — just those four simple steps, alone, could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Here are 10 ways to help people hear that message.

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In one year, 477 people in San Francisco, most of them homeless, used $20 million worth of urgent/emergency services — an average of $42,067 each — and taxpayers paid the bill. Knowing who they are is the first step towards treating their illnesses, injuries, and addictions.

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What happens when someone dies who has no assets – or friends or relatives – to pay for his burial? Procedures for pauper's burials vary widely by jurisdiction. It is one of those little-discussed arenas of public health, a topic that often intersects with the deaths of the homeless.

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Many professions have their version of a post-event analysis of what went wrong, and how to prevent it. The autopsy report is medicine's. Journalists can find a trove of stories in a review of death certificates.

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In today's hyper-evolving social media world, it might seem quaint, if not downright foolish, to believe that old school journalism's low-tech and low-cost approaches — a pen, a pad, and shoe-leather investigation — could result in an article that ignites a global furor.

 

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Every ER has patients like "Sam." The staff call them "frequent fliers" because they patch them up and discharge them, only to watch them return an hour or a day or a week later with another problem.  How much should the health care system spend to help someone who won't help himself? 

 

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San Francisco's City Clinic has been dishing out frank talk about sex for 100 years. The shocking thing is not how much things have changed, but how much they haven't.

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This month marks the sober anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, which ignited global protests and renewed efforts to reform or dismantle policing. In our next webinar, we’ll examine the price society pays for a criminal-legal system that disproportionately arrests, punishes and kills Black people. And we’ll look at how reporters can best cover this evolving story in original and powerful ways. Sign-up here!

As public health officials like to say, "COVID-19 isn't done with us." And journalists know that we're not done with COVID-19. Apply now for five days of stimulating discussions on the pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of color -- plus reporting and engagement grants of $2k-$10k and five months of mentoring while you work on an ambitious project.

Are you passionate about helping journalists understand and illuminate the social factors that contribute to health and health disparities at a time when COVID-19 has highlighted the costs of such inequities? Looking to play a big role in shaping journalism today in the United States? The USC Center for Health Journalism seeks an enterprising and experienced journalism leader for our new position of “Manager of Projects.” 

 

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