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Revamping healthcare in a violent and impoverished New Jersey city

Revamping healthcare in a violent and impoverished New Jersey city

Picture of Christina Hernandez

Camden, New Jersey, which sits across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is known as one of the nation's most violent and impoverished cities. But as Camden's mostly black and Latino residents navigate dangerous streets and crushing poverty, they also face a broken healthcare system. With limited access to primary care, about half of all Camden residents visit a hospital every year. The top 10 reasons for emergency room visits were all primary care issues, with the common cold topping the list.

With the support of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, I'll examine Camden's troubled healthcare system through the eyes of patients, doctors, hospital administrators, policymakers, community leaders and others. My reporting will explore the waste created by the city's disjointed healthcare system, including repeated medical tests and over-prescribed medications. I'll also shed light on the negative impacts endured by Camden's most chronically ill, who receive inadequate care and frequently return to the hospital.

Despite these staggering problems, the next 12 months could spell change for Camden's troubled healthcare system. Local cooperation through, for example, a citywide health record information system and national measures including healthcare reform could bring about opportunities for major system improvements in Camden.

As the culture of healthcare in Camden evolves, I'll interview medical and policy experts, along with doctors and patients, to find out what's going right in the system's reinvention. My reporting in Camden will seek to answer the questions: Is it possible to fix healthcare in one of the country's most poor and violent cities? And if the efforts in Camden work, could the city serve as a model for others across the nation?


Picture of Michelle Levander

I can't wait to see the project! Will Camden launch public health programs to begin to tackle violence and poverty?

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U.S. children and teens have struggled with increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior for much of the past decade. Join us as we explore the systemic causes and policy failures that have accelerated the crisis and its inequitable impact, as well as promising community-driven approaches and evidence-based practices. The webinar will provide fresh ideas for reporting on the mental health of youth and investigating the systems and services. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors and a social media consultant to join its team. Learn more about the positions and apply.


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