I’ve been a journalist since I was a teenager working on my high school paper in suburban Chicago. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the world and write about what I discovered. Before coming to Newsday, I covered religion, immigration and multiculturalism in the Riverside and San Bernardino areas of Southern California. I wrote about immigrants who had lived in California since they were young children fighting against deportation, same-sex couples celebrating their newfound right to marry, Black parents having “the talk” with their kids about how to behave with police to avoid confrontation, evangelical Christians proclaiming their faith at a giant crusade and Mexican immigrant Catholics praying all night in the chilly desert air on the eve of the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Exposing readers to types of people they may not be familiar with – or about whom they harbor misconceptions, or worse – can make them more comfortable with the diversity of racial, ethnic, religious and other groups that make up our communities.
At Newsday I’ve worked on the investigations desk and covered local government and health care. I’m particularly enthused about writing about health care. It’s a subject that affects us all.
Over the last three years, it’s been especially important to provide medically accurate information to readers, many of whom have been bombarded with misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19. During the peak of COVID-19 deaths in New York, in early April 2020, I spent three days in Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital. I watched heroic efforts of medical professionals to save lives from a virus they were just beginning to understand and witnessed the grim site of refrigerated trailers that held the bodies of those who didn’t survive and for whom funeral homes and cemeteries did not have room.
Nurses and doctors said they were eager to talk with me, because they wanted Long Islanders in those pre-vaccine days to know how deadly the virus was and how the scale of death was something they had never seen.
When I write about health care, I think about the impact it can have on readers. Before reading my stories, they may not have known that millions of Americans have been struggling for months or years with debilitating symptoms of long COVID, realized how stark the differences are between life expectancies of Black and white Long Islanders, or known that breast and colorectal cancer are more common in younger people than in the past, and that early screenings can be critical.
Knowing that what I write can potentially save people’s lives, or at least allow them to make more informed decisions about the health care they receive, is one reason why I am so passionate about what I do.