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Patti Neighmond

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Based in Los Angeles, Neighmond has covered health care policy since April 1987. She joined NPR's staff in 1981, covering local New York City news as well as the United Nations. In 1984, she became a producer for NPR's science unit and specialized in science and environmental issues.

Neighmond has earned a broad array of awards for her reporting. In 1993, she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of health reform. That same year, she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for a story on a young quadriplegic who convinced Georgia officials that she could live at home less expensively and more happily than in a nursing home. In 1990, Neighmond won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. She received two awards in 1989: a George Polk Award for her powerful ten-part series on AIDS patient Archie Harrison, who was taking the anti-viral drug AZT; and a Major Armstrong Award for her series on the Canadian health care system. The Population Institute, based in Washington, DC, has presented its radio documentary award to Neighmond twice: in 1988 for "Family Planning in India" and in 1984 for her coverage of overpopulation in Mexico. Her 1987 report "AIDS and Doctors" won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism, and her two-part series on the aquaculture industry earned the 1986 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award.

Neighmond began her career in journalism in 1978, at the Pacifica Foundation's DC bureau, where she covered Capitol Hill and the White House. She began freelance reporting for NPR from New York City in 1980. Neighmond earned her bachelor's degree in English and drama from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles.

Another U.S. case of infection with the novel coronavirus was confirmed Thursday, bringing the total number of domestic cases to 15. Around the world, cases have reached nearly 60,000 to date.

But if something changes and large numbers of people get infected in the U.S., is the country's health system prepared to cope with a surge of patients with this virus, or any future pathogen?

The majority of Americans have health insurance that includes coverage for prescription drugs. But unfortunately that doesn't ensure that they can afford the specific drugs their doctors prescribe for them.

In fact, many Americans report that their insurance plans sometimes don't cover a drug they need — and nearly half the people whom this happens to say they simply don't fill the prescription. That's according to a poll released this month on income inequality from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Susan Gustafson had suffered dementia for several years when her family decided she needed around-the-clock care and moved her into a memory care unit at an assisted living facility in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Her daughter, Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer and artist-in-residence at Northwestern University in Illinois, says when she visited her mom for the first time, she was devastated.

"She was sitting in her wheelchair with her head down at a breakfast table," Nancy Gustafson remembers. "I'll never forget — looking so sad and looking so lost and so confused."

When Los Angeles resident Marie Kordus takes her rescue dog Anya out walking, some people say she looks like a wolf or a fox. Once a little boy even said, " 'Mommy, look at that lady, she's walking a coyote!' " Kordus recalls.

But when she adopted her slender, cream-colored rescue pup, she was told she was a German shepherd mix.

Still, Kordus decided to try to find out more about Anya's ancestry. She went online, ordered a DNA kit, swabbed Anya's mouth for saliva, put it in a tube, and mailed it off. One week later she had results.

New research raises concern about the safety of permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners, especially among African American women. The study was published Wednesday in the International Journal of Cancer.

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