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.

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. 

Getty Images

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.

Bars in North Carolina  welcomed back customers indoors over the weekend after almost a year of outdoor only cocktail service.  On Friday, the Governor Roy Cooper’s new executive order took effect, allowing indoor service at bars with 30% capacity,  lifting the 10 p.m. curfew and  easing capacity restrictions for a number of businesses and venues.  During Wednesday’s briefing the governor stressed that the new order was part of his continued “dimmer switch approach”  noting that key indicators used to guide decisions throughout pandemic show state’s trends are moving in the right direction.  On the same day the order went into effect, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the country’s recent progress in slowing the coronavirus spread may be "stalling" as highly infectious new variants become more predominant.     BPR’s Helen Chickering discussed the new order and variants with NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban.

Drew Reisinger

As the country watches the COVID death toll cross the half million mark,  a Western North Carolina official has been taking inventory of the local impact.  As BPR’s Helen Chickering reports,  he ended up with a snapshot for the entire state.

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.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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.

NCDPS

North Carolina’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have been declining over the past week, with just 3,287 people in the hospital (1/24) and 4,633 cases reported (1/25) according to the state health department dashboard.  State and local health officials caution that while the trends are moving in the right direction, there is still a long way to go. The governor is expected to hold a coronavirus task force briefing this week.  On Thursday, Health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen held the first media briefing under the new administration.       

Buncombe County Health and Human Services is administering its first round of COVID-19 vaccines.   Paramedics, firefighters, and public health staff working at the testing and vaccinations sites were given their first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday -  in the two part COVID vaccination series. According to a statement from BCHHS,  Vaccinators will administer the COVID vaccine to over 200 first responders and public health staff this week.

Vaccinations are rolling out across Western North Carolina. Mission Health is the latest to start  administering the COVID vaccine to at risk health care workers.  The system received just under 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville started giving the shots on Tuesday (12/15)and  Cherokee Indian Hospital – on Wednesday.   The shots arrived as the state continued to see record case numbers and hospitalizations. BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in on the metrics and vaccines with North Carolina with NC Health News editor Rose Hoban. 

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