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.

Ways to Connect

Every Friday we check in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban for a look at the week in COVID-19 headlines.  Rose is visiting family in New York is week, so we connected by cell phone (pardon the occasional static).

BPR

Scaffolding is going up around the Vance Monument as the city prepares to shroud the 75-foot obelisk in Pack Square in downtown Asheville.   

Mountain State Fair

Two WNC fairs have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At a  press briefing at the WNC Ag Center Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced the annual Mountain State Fair will not be held in 2020.  The fair was scheduled to talk place Sept. 11 through 20 at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher.

Shutterstock

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the pause on the governor’s school opening plan, the politics of masks and the parallels between the coronavirus and HIV/Aids pandemics.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  Among the topics of discussion this week:  Governor Roy Cooper's Phase-2 pause and mask mandate, the latest from the General Assembly -  including a bill addressing hospital patient visitation during the pandemic and a Medicaid package, plus a look at challenges dentists are facing as they work to re-open

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering reviews the week’s coronavirus news with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the latest COVID-19 metrics, the “have and have-not” impact on  hospital reporting,  possible mask mandate, missing racial data and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on foster care

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the latest COVID-19 metrics amid a swell of new cases and hospitalizations, factors around the disproportionate number of cases among Latino communities and the strike team tactic created by a WNC assisted living facility as it tackled an outbreak among residents and staff.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss  the latest COVID-19 metrics, how coronavirus is changing patient care in hospitals, the potential impact of protests on the coronavirus curve,  the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases among communities of color and a new task force formed to address many of the inequities that contribute to those statistics.     

BPR News

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban about the week’s coronavirus headlines and emerging issues linked to the pandemic.  This week they discuss the increase in cases and hospitalizations during the first week of North Carolina’s  Phase-2 reopening,  the push by state lawmakers to reopen bars and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on state immunization rates.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban about the week’s coronavirus headlines and emerging issues linked to the pandemic.  This week they discuss the metrics amid the start of North Carolina’s  Phase-2 reopening and the many roles churches are playing in the coronavirus pandemic.

BPR News

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss  the latest COVID-19 metrics, how the public is responding to the modified stay-home order as Phase-2 approaches along with the recent surge in telemedicine and the challenges for rural communities.

MAHEC

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted some dentists to break into the new frontier of teledentistry – including  the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with a MAHEC dental resident as the program was just getting underway. 

(5/13 12 p.m.)

Buncombe County health officials are reporting the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in  long-term care facilities in the county. 

Johns Hopkins University

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban. This week they discuss what health officials are monitoring as the first wave of  stay-home restrictions are lifted, the complicated challenge of figuring out if somebody has recovered from COVID-19 and her thoughts about Nurse’s week amid coronavirus. 

MAHEC

What happens when a medical student and a dental resident harness 3D technology to help flatten the coronavirus curve in North Carolina?  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

UNC School of Public Health

BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News Founding Editor Rose Hoban about the metrics state health officials are monitoring, the discussions by state lawmakers working on a COVID-19 relief bill and (below) the NC connection to the newly approved COVID-19 drug therapy.

Buncombe County

Buncombe county residents who think they may have symptoms of COVID-19 can get answers and connect to resources with a new online  Self -Checker .  The  digital tool was created by a COVID-19 think tank started by Emergency Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove with support from the Mountain Area Health Education Center.   The idea for the online resource came from a local climate scientist who also worked to develop and program the self-checker.  BPR’S Helen Chickering reports.

healthaffairs.org

(4/27) Information on congregate living facilities with outbreaks (two or more cases) has been added to the NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard.  You can find the list here.

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(4/24) The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting nearly 12-hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases and  101 deaths at nursing homes across the state.  In Henderson County, 125 of the 158 COVID-19 cases and all 13 deaths  are linked to long term care facilities.   An  analysis of federal data  by North Carolina Health News  found histories of short staffing at more than three-quarters of  19 nursing homes identified in public records and/or media accounts as having COVID-19 outbreaks.   Founding editor Rose Hoban spoke with BPR's Helen Chickering about their findings. 

NCDPS

During Tuesday’s briefing, Governor Roy Cooper announced an Executive Order that will provide relief to furloughed workers who are unemployed and addressed the need to make more funding available for small business owners through the Golden LEAF Foundation's Rapid Recovery Program.  The governor also said officials are getting ready to announce details about what will happen when the state stay-home and school closure orders expire.

The group Reopen NC is planning a second protest in Raleigh Tuesday morning urging Governor Cooper to lift stay-at-home restrictions no later than May 1. The protest comes amid mounting pressure from some lawmakers and others to reopen the economy even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to grow by the day. 

The group Reopen NC is planning a second protest in Raleigh Tuesday morning urging Governor Cooper to lift stay-at-home restrictions no later than May 1. The protest comes amid mounting pressure from some lawmakers and others to reopen the economy even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to grow by the day. 

NCDPS

At Friday’s news briefing, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working with academic partners across the state to understand how widespread cases of COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms are in the state and to monitor prevalence of the disease over time.

Politics mixed with the science of tracking the novel coronavirus’ spread this week when Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) participated in the rollout of a research study to track people who may have already had COVID-19 without knowing it.  North Carolina Health News founding editor Rose Hoban has been covering the story.  She spoke with BPR's Helen Chickering  about the study and the governor's path to gradual re-opening. 

NCDPS

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

CDC

(4/13 10 p.m.) The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Henderson County is approaching 100, up from 71 over Easter weekend.  Six people have died.    (Find the latest NC COVID-19 info here )     According to the Henderson County Health Department  82 of the confirmed cases and all six deaths are linked to three residential care facilities in the county. 

MAHEC

Find the latest COVID-19 updates & info here   Along with restaurants, hotels, and many small businesses – physician practices across Western North Carolina are feeling the financial crunch from the coronavirus.  A  MAHEC  survey of 100 primary care practices finds many are being hit hard by both the shortage of  supplies  - and patients.  

Monday, 4/06/2020:

From the office of Governor Roy Cooper, Raleigh: 

A collection of North Carolina experts today released a composite modeling forecast looking at how COVID-19 could affect North Carolina in the coming months. The models, constructed by experts from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, RTI International, and others reinforced the need for limiting personal contact to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that health care is there for people who need it. 

April 1 brings another COVID-19 concern – rent is due.  With restrictions shuttering businesses and putting thousands out of work across Western North Carolina, non-profit organizations that provide housing  and other support services are seeing an increase in calls from residents concerned about rent and mortgage payments.

BPR News

While much of BPR's coronavirus coverage is dedicated to updates from health and government officials, we are working to reach out to the community - including local restaurants.  On Tuesday March 17, Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive order closing sit-down Service at restaurants and bars across the state– which forced many to close.  But some have been working to stay open including a sandwich shop down the street from the Blue Ridge Public Radio.  BPR's  Helen Chickering has been checking in..

BPR News

Should I get tested? Local health officials are recommending people who are not critically ill call their primary care provider, an urgent care center or local health department to be screened over the phone.   Many local providers are able to order a COVID-19 test, but health officials stress it is important to call first.

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