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

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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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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. 

A primary care provider who practices in Fletcher became the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Western North Carolina.  “That felt great,”  said  Dr. Chona Reguyal about getting the first shot Tuesday morning.

Three WNC hospitals are on the list to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments.  Earlier this week, North Carolina health officials announced that Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville would be among the 11 “early ship sites” that would hold the vaccine in cold storage during the approval process, which is expected to continue this weekend with the meeting of the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.  

North Carolina broke another coronavirus daily case record on Sunday,  as more people get tested before Thanksgiving.    Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a coronavirus task force press briefing Monday afternoon.(11/23).  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with North Carolina Health News editor Rose Hoban about the metrics, concerns about hospital staffing and a look at how some nursing homes in North Carolina are keeping the virus at bay.

 North Carolina coronavirus cases dipped a bit on Monday after a week of steady increases including a record high of more than 3,000 on Friday.  Hospitalizations also hit a new high last week.  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban  - with a close look at questions around one of the most common COVID tests. 

Photo credit: Amanda Mills/CD

North Carolina coronavirus cases dipped a bit on Monday after a week of steady increases including a record high of more than 2,900 on Friday.  State officials say they’re watching the trends closely  as we head into the holidays.   BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with  NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban the risk that comes with being cooped up during cooler weather and a look at some new health trends emerging from the pandemic.  

Lilly Knoepp

More than 4.5 million North Carolinians already have voted  - either in person during early voting or by mail.  That’s more than 95% of all the N.C. voters who cast ballots in 2016. Across BPR’s listening area, more than 50% of registered voters in every county have cast ballots.                                                                                  The BPR news team has been visiting polling sites, talking with voters about what issues are driving them to the polls this year. 

Civil discourse may be missing this election season, but it’s not entirely gone. In Henderson County, the local League of Women Voters created a voter education video contest to inspire high school students. BPR’s Helen Chickering met up with the producer of the winning video - a first time voter with a compelling case for civil conversation and civic engagement.

North Carolina remains paused in Phase 3 of the governor’s coronavirus reopening plan as the state’s case numbers continue to climb.    BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with  NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban about the trends and the state’s plan to distribute coronavirus vaccines.   Check out NC Health News Voter Guide on Health here.

NC Health News

Coronavirus cases are rising in North Carolina with the state adding more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases daily  since Thursday (10/18).  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with  NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban about the case surge and the newly released NC Health News Voter Guide on Health.

Hannah Critchfield / NC Health News

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is now over 231,000 with 1,719 new cases reported on Sunday.  Hospitalizations remain over 1,000 as health officials keep a close eye on trends, amid a week that saw the third-highest jump in cases since start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as President Trump prepares to return to the campaign trail after recovering from COVID-19.  The virus is also complicating the voting process for some North Carolinians.   Just a few of the topics BPR’s  Helen Chickering unpacked with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban and this week.

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Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week, on the heels of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis,  they take a brief look back in history at other presidents who have fallen ill while in office, and forward as North Carolina moves forward into Phase-3 of the governor’s coronavirus reopening plan.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the latest COVID-19 metrics,  what might be on the list as the governor lifts more restrictions in his coronavirus reopening plans and a newly released federal report that spotlights deficiencies in nursing homes across the state, which have been coronavirus hot-spots.

https://covidprisonproject.com/

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss White House Coronavirus Task Force visit to North Carolina as the state’s COVID rate “simmers”, the continued rise in cases among inmates, and the criticism that the state has not done enough to help release more eligible people from prison early to help reduce the spread of the virus.  

The childhood home of  legendary singer-songwriter and civil activist Nina Simone will be protected forever.

The home in Tryon, North Carolina is now covered by a preservation easement held by Preservation North Carolina, a statewide historic preservation advocacy organization. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in partnership with World Monuments Fund (WMF)  worked with  Preservation NC to secure protection of the house.

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss North Carolina’s move to Phase 2.5 of the governor’s reopening plan, what happened behind the scenes as lawmakers hammered out the remainder of the federal coronavirus relief package, and why some researchers are revisiting the question about conducting research in prisons.  

Tom Snow

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban. This week they discuss the public health mentions  in Governor Roy's Coopers budget proposal, CDC's updated coronavirus testing guidelines and  - river otters.  They sure are cute, but what do they have to do with our health?

dailytarheel.com

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week they discuss the quick- switch to all online-learning by two universities in the UNC system, the complicated challenge of communicating public health messages during a pandemic along with a check-in with primary care practices. 

Rose Hoban / NC Health News

Every Friday,  BPR's Helen Chickering talks with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban.  This week (after a week off) they discuss the seemingly stabilizing coronavirus trends as NC college students return to campus and public schools begin to open, the testing numbers error that shines a light on outdated data collection methods and  the coronavirus budget breakdown that included a “what if we had expanded Medicaid” moment.

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As some schools welcome students back during the pandemic, it’s likely that the  only healthcare provider on campus- will be the school nurse. And in North Carolina more than half serve more than one school.

Greg Barnes

Every Friday, we check in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban to discuss the latest coronavirus news making headlines.  This week, the conversation focused on  an investigation by NC Health news reporter Thomas Goldsmith about the quality of care  at state owned veteran’ nursing homes managed by a private company, and where 36 North Carolina residents of military service have died of COVID-19.

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is hovering close to 100,000 with 1,820 new cases reported on Sunday.  Hospitalizations declined over the weekend but remained over 1,000.  The continued rise in new cases and hospitalizations prompted Governor Roy Cooper to extend Phase-2 of his reopening plan for another 3 weeks.  The governor also announced plans for K-12 schools this fall.  

Every Friday,  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban and this week – there was lots to talk about.

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