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.

Having trouble getting to sleep these days? You're not alone. For people with a history of insomnia, sleep problems are magnified right now. And many who never struggled before are suddenly experiencing interruptions in their nightly rest or difficulty falling asleep.

Staying home and sheltering in place can be stressful for everyone. But for some college students who identify as LGBTQ, returning to family environments can be very difficult and even psychologically damaging, psychologists say.

For many young people, sheltering at home means missing milestones and public recognition of their achievements. This is especially true for seniors graduating from high school and college.

Kendall Smith, a high school senior who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., says her school has many traditions leading up to graduation. But this year things are very different.

As the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads across the United States, there are continuing concerns among hospitals, public health experts and government leaders that hospital intensive care units would be hard-pressed to handle a surge in seriously ill patients.

A key limiting factor to being able to provide good care, they say, is the number of ventilation machines — ventilators — a hospital has on hand to help the most seriously ill patients breathe.

As COVID-19 begins to spread and sicken more people in the United States, federal health officials are recommending people acquire a several-week supply of the prescription drugs they routinely take for chronic conditions. You don't want to be stuck without them if you get sick.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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As the coronavirus continues to spread, federal health officials are recommending that people stock up on their prescription medications. That might not be as easy as it sounds. Here's NPR's Patti Neighmond.

As Americans begin to cope with the prospect that the novel coronavirus could spread more widely in the U.S., there are questions about how prepared and sufficiently funded most hospitals are to handle severe cases in a major outbreak.

So far, several dozen people or so, across the country have been hospitalized with the virus, and at least six people in the U.S. have died. Government health officials now say they expect significantly more cases could arise, which means that hospitals need to be ready.

The first Americans quarantined after evacuation from Wuhan, China, the center of this winter's coronavirus outbreak, are now beginning to settle back into normal routines.

For 24-year-old Daniel Wethli, a history buff who majored in philosophy as an undergrad, leaving Wuhan last month at the urging of the U.S. State Department was bittersweet.

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.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Mass shootings, health care concerns and the upcoming 2020 presidential election top the list of Americans' worries these days. That's according to a new survey out this week from the American Psychological Association.

Overall, 71% said mass shootings were a significant source of stress in their lives, up from 62% last year. Hispanic adults were most likely to report stress over mass shootings (84%).

If you often hit that midafternoon slump and feel drowsy at your desk, you're not alone. The number of working Americans who get less than seven hours of sleep a night is on the rise.

And the people hardest hit when it comes to sleep deprivation are those we depend on the most for our health and safety: police and health care workers, along with those in the transportation field, such as truck drivers.

October marks the start of a new flu season, with a rise in likely cases already showing up in Louisiana and other spots, federal statistics show.

The advice from federal health officials remains clear and consistent: Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, especially if you're pregnant or have asthma or another underlying condition that makes you more likely to catch a bad case.

Eating a handful of almonds, walnuts, peanuts or any type of nut on a regular basis may help prevent excessive weight gain and even lower the risk of obesity, new research suggests.

It may be that substituting healthy nuts for unhealthy snacks is a simple strategy to ward off the gradual weight gain that often accompanies aging, according to the researchers. Nuts also help us feel full longer, which might offset cravings for junk food.

For people who live with chronic pain, getting up, out and moving can seem daunting. Some fear that physical activity will make their pain worse. But in fact, researchers find the opposite is true: The right kind of exercise can help reduce pain.

Today, Emma Dehne agrees. Dehne is 44, lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and works as a business officer in the office of the executive vice chancellor at the University of North Carolina. She says her commitment to exercise is relatively recent.

Good news for the cheery: A Boston study published this month suggests people who tend to be optimistic are likelier than others to live to be 85 years old or more.

The pathway to opioid abuse for women often starts with a prescription from the doctor's office. One reason is that women are more likely than men to seek help for pain.

Pain researchers say that not only do women suffer more painful conditions, they actually perceive pain more intensely than men do.

Most children enrolled in Medicaid who get a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder don't get timely or appropriate treatment afterward. That's the conclusion of a report published Thursday by a federal watchdog agency, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General.

When we smear on sunscreen, dermatologist Kanade Shinkai with the University of California, San Francisco says, most of us don't think about it getting under our skin.

"I think there was an assumption that these are things that we apply to our skin — they don't really get into our bloodstream," Shinkai says.

Telehealth turned Jill Hill's life around.

The 63-year-old lives on the edge of rural Grass Valley, an old mining town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She was devastated after her husband Dennis passed away in the fall of 2014 after a long series of medical and financial setbacks.

"I was grief-stricken and my self-esteem was down," Hill remembers. "I didn't care about myself. I didn't brush my hair. I was isolated. I just kind of locked myself in the bedroom."

Jeannine, who is 37 and lives in Burbank, Calif., has endured widespread pain since she was 8. She has been examined by dozens of doctors, but none of their X-rays, MRIs or other tests have turned up any evidence of physical injury or damage.

Polling by NPR finds that while rural Americans are mostly satisfied with life, there is a strong undercurrent of financial insecurity that can create very serious problems for many people living in rural communities.

The findings come from two surveys NPR has done with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on day-to-day life and health in rural America.

It was a warm, wet winter this year across much of the United States. In most states, this means more greenery, more rabbits, more rodents and more snakes — which raises the risk of snake bites for humans and their canine companions.

Biologist Gerad Fox is standing next to a loud rattlesnake. "Right now he's in a classic strike posture, very defensive," says Fox. "The rattle is a warning, saying, 'Back off. I'm dangerous. You should leave me alone.' "

Medicine continues to advance on many fronts, yet basic health care fails hundreds of women a year who die during or after pregnancy, especially women of color. Black mothers die at a rate that's 3.3 times greater than whites, and Native American or Alaskan Native women die at a rate 2.5 times greater than whites, according to a report out this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When women get a mammogram they may be offered one of two types. The older type of mammogram takes a single straightforward X-ray image of the breast. The newer 3D takes pictures from many angles. Now, more evidence shows that 3D mammography offers a more thorough picture of breast tissue and is more accurate.

When Mary Hu, an administrator in communications with Yale School of Medicine, went to get a mammogram two years ago, she didn't even know she was getting 3D mammography, also called digital breast tomosynthesis. But she's glad that's what she got.

Measles is surging. Last week the U.S. recorded 90 cases, making this year's outbreak the second largest in more than two decades.

So far this year, the U.S. has confirmed 555 measles cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. That's 50 percent higher than the total number recorded last year, even though we're only about a quarter of the way through 2019.

And the virus isn't slowing down.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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