Helen Chickering

All Things Considered Host, Reporter

Helen Chickering is a reporter and host of All Things Considered on Blue Ridge Public Radio.  She joined the station in November 2014.

Helen grew up in Texas.  Her broadcast career began in television news in 1985 at WLBT, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.  There she did everything from news to weather and found her niche in medical reporting.  Over the next 20 years she covered health and science news on both local and national levels, including 5 years in Charlotte at the CBS affiliate, WBTV.   In 1998, Helen helped launch the health and science desk at NBC News Channel, the network's affiliate news service.  She became the first journalist to serve as president of the National Association of Medical Communicators and was on the founding board of the Science Communicators of North Carolina.  

In 2012, Helen and her family moved to Asheville from Chapel Hill and she started working as a freelance producer and as a Montessori teaching assistant.  A longtime NPR listener, she was thrilled to land a job at Blue Ridge Public Radio.   Helen is an active member of the Asheville Science Tavern and a guest lecturer and an advisory board member at the University of North Carolina's Medical and Science Journalism Program.

To meet the growing demand for COVID tests, some local health departments in Western North Carolina  are opening additional testing sites. 

A COVID testing site will open  on the campus of UNC Asheville starting this Friday 1/21 from 1 p.m.-8 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Room in the Highsmith Student Union, located at 2500 University Heights, Asheville NC 28804. Weekend testing will be available for the next six weeks and is open to the public. No appointment needed.

BPR News

The pandemic is showing no sign of letting up  in North Carolina. The state set another COVID  daily case  record with 29,069 new cases on Sunday (1/9). For perspective, BPR’s Helen Chickering checked  in with North Carolina Health News editor Rose Hoban.  (and check out the NC Health News look ahead for health in 2022  here)

Buncombe County Government

Mission Health’s chief medical officer is leaving his role to join Mountain Area Health Education as CEO.  According to a news release, William Hathaway, MD, will  assume his new role February 7, succeeding Jeffery Heck, MD, who announced his retirement in August after a decade lead

NCDHHS

 (12/31)  The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 18,571 positive tests for COVID-19   onThursday(12/30),  the highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases on record and 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January of this year.  Cases and hospitalizations are also on the rise in Western North Carolina and COVID-19 tests are in high demand. 

  12/10 Exciting update!  Alisa Hove is advancing to the  Jeopardy! semifinals:   https://www.jeopardy.com/contestant-zone/2021/professors-tournament

Heads-up Jeopardy! fans:  A college professor from Western North Carolina is putting her skills to the test as a competitor on the brain bending quiz show. BPR's Helen Chickering reports. 

NCDHHS

More than 24,000 children in North Carolina have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to state health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.  The lower-dose Pfizer COVID vaccine got the green light for 5- to 11-year-olds  late last week.   

"The data shows that the lower dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine protects children from serious illness and there were no serious side effects," said Dr. Cohen during a media briefing on Wednesday .

The 2018 murder conviction of a Haywood County man charged with selling narcotics linked to a deadly overdose has caught the attention of public health researchers. They’ve published a paper that raises questions about the harsh punishment. BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with the researchers over Zoom about the behind the scenes work that led to the findings. 

BPR News

Several health departments  and vaccine providers across Western North Carolina are rolling out the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot  to people 65 and older and others now eligible.  Buncombe, Henderson, and Haywood Jackson,  Madison, and McDowell counties are among those offering the booster shot.  Meantime,  there are lots of questions about just who is qualified to get the extra dose.

Public hearings are underway on redrawing North Carolina’s political maps, including a meeting Tuesday, September 21,  on the campus of  Western Carolina University.

On the heels of  Monday’s FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and older,  Pardee UNC Health Care  in Hendersonville updated its policy,  announcing  all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  A statement by Pardee says the new mandate gives employees until November 12 to comply or submit their request for a medical or religious exemption.   Previously, the hospital encouraged, but didn’t mandate the vaccination.

Courtesy of Mission Health

North Carolina is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 spread among unvaccinated people. Hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to NCDHHS.

fightfor15.org

This week marks 12 years since the federal minimum wage was last raised. To mark the occasion, workers in Western North Carolina and across the country hit the streets, calling on low-wage employers to take action. BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.  

Rebecca Helm

A local biologist who's been making waves for her research into jellyfish that reside in freshwater ecosystems, including some here in Western North Carolina is part of an international campaign to protect and better understand marine life in a vast stretch of salt water - most of us will never see.

National Nurses United

(6/15 8 a.m.) Nurses are picketing outside Mission Hospital in Asheville. The Tuesday morning protest comes as their union negotiates a new contract. A statement issued by  National Nurses Organizing Committee  says the informational picket event seeks to alert the public about persistent problems about safe staffing, including what they say are hospital management’s consistent failure to adhere to its own staffing standards.

NCDPS

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in our weekly segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.  This week's COVID question comes from Charlene Reeves of Asheville.

Asheville City Schools

 

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talks with a local expert about some of the concerns parents and caregivers may have about the COVID-19 vaccine and children. 

Catherine Komp/BPR News

Gas stations across Western North Carolina are feeling a crunch after the Colonial Pipeline shutdown because of a cyber-attack. In Asheville, long lines outside of gas stations spilled onto Merrimon avenue and other city streets on Monday. By Tuesday morning, many of those gas stations were out of fuel.

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in our weekly segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

ncdhhs

COVID-19 cases in North Carolina continue a “rolling simmer” with the 7-day average of new confirmed cases now hovering around 2,000.  At least 1,096 people are hospitalized, up from 1,064 from Friday. Meantime, state and local health officials are grappling with how to keep up  vaccine enthusiasm – just a few of the topics BPR’s Helen Chickering and NC Health News editor Rose Hoban tackle in their weekly coronavirus check-in.  

cdc.gov

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   This week's question comes from Beth Baxley of Macon County. Her question came in just before Federal officials hit the pause button on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

cdc.gov

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

This week's question comes from Dr. Penny Brewster  of Franklin.

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

Pardee UNC Health Care

North Carolina now is now under a new – less restrictive -  pandemic executive order, an updated COVID vaccine schedule. And somewhere in-between in all – Governor Roy Cooper revealed announced his budget plan with a renewed push for Medicaid expansion. It is a good time for our check-in with North Carolina Health News editor, Rose Hoban.

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   

This week's question comes from Emma Rodriguez of Henderson County. “After getting the COVID-19 vaccine, if I get  tested for COVID-19,  will the test come out positive?”

As COVID-19 shots go into arms across North Carolina, state health officials continue to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably.  A recent CDC  report  puts North Carolina among the top ten states in the nation for equitable vaccine distribution.                                                                                              But when it comes to access to care for COVID-19 patients, North Carolina’s plan for   rationing care fell short, according to federal regulators.  NC Health News editor Rose Hoban has been following the story and shared details during her weekly check-in with BPR’s Helen Chickering.

Wake Forest Baptist Health

BPR is answering listener queries about the coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer. 

WCU.edu

BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   This week's question comes from Bob Evans of Buncombe County.

unfpa.org

This week North Carolina health officials announced  that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be given higher priority for receiving COVID-19 vaccines.   North Carolina Health News editor Rose Hoban has been following this story and shared details with BPR’s Helen Chickering  during their weekly check-in. 

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