THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2022
Dr. Eric Topol: COVID BA.5 variant "worst we've seen"Dr. Eric Topol, one of the most prominent and prolific COVID experts, provides his thoughts on the COVID BA.5 subvariant. He says, “it’s the worst variant… [because of] the immune escape…the ability to have growth, fitness and advantages that we haven’t seen before…the properties are getting worse…and lasting longer. The virus has not finished its evolutionary arc. There’s more to come, unfortunately.”Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter also talk to Dr. Topol about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s legacy, Paxlovid resistance and monkeypox.
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2022
How VA Innovation Affects the Entire Health Care SystemThe U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system. But how much do you know about how well VA Medical Centers and clinics identify innovative therapies, practices and policies and then diffuse them across a large footprint? Ryan Vega, MD, MSHA, leads the Innovation Ecosystem within the Veterans Health Administration. This initiative focuses on being the catalyst for enabling the discovery and spread of mission-driven health care innovation to advance care delivery and service.Dr. Vega highlights point-of-care manufacturing and its 3D Printing Network that were essential during the early days of COVID and the VA’s history of deploying the first cardiac pacemaker.Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter talk to Dr. Vega about these breakthroughs, how they help the entire health care sector and where the VA is partnering with Federally Qualified Health Centers.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2022
Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege: A Commitment for 50+ YearsFor over 50 years Community Health Center, Inc., has focused on one key thought: Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege.“Conversations on Health Care” is CHC’s nationally syndicated program that brings the mission to life.This week guest host Thalia Assuras, a CBS and ABC News veteran, continues her talk with Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter about CHC’s anniversary, the interview program and its first guest Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. They also discuss how CHC’s experience helped it navigate the COVID pandemic, including setting up a mass vaccination site.
THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2022
50 Years of Community Health Center, Inc.: A Special ConversationWe’re marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Community Health Center, Inc., by turning the tables on hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter. Join former CBS and ABC News anchor Thalia Assuras as she asks Mark and Margaret to share their memories on this special occasion. You’ll learn about the early challenges of starting CHC, the patients it’s helped and how it fits into the larger effort to improve U.S. health care.
THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2022
How Do We Make Healthy Buildings the Next Public Health Revolution?Joseph Allen is the director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As the co-author of “Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity,” his views are closely followed as we try to move quicker than COVID can spread. “Conversations on Health Care” co-hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter talk with Allen about new efforts to elevate the quality of indoor spaces in an overall health strategy.
THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2022
COVID Expert Dr. Hotez On His Own Positive Case: What He’s LearnedDr. Peter Hotez, who helped develop a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine, has tested positive himself for a breakthrough strain of the virus. He explained to “Conversations on Health Care” that he’s doing “pretty well” and is confident that’s because he’s fully vaccinated and double-boosted. Dr. Hotez shared with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that he’d been taking the oral antiviral medication Paxlovid when the interview was recorded. He said it’s a good drug with solid evidence but also suggested that the amount of virus and its replication may ultimately require a longer course of treatment with Paxlovid; right now it’s only approved for five days. Dr. Hotez also addresses questions about rising cases, booster shots, the anti-science movement and other important issues.
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2022
A Teacher From Parkland H.S. Reflects on the Uvalde & Buffalo Mass ShootingsParkland, Florida, teacher Sarah Lerner shares her poignant thoughts as the nation reacts to the latest deadly school shooting. Lerner was teaching the day a former student killed 17 at her high school; she has gone on to help lead Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence.Lerner discusses with hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter how public health must continue its focus on stopping gun violence and what lawmakers can do.
THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2022
Harm Reduction in U.S. Substance Use Disorder Efforts: Top Official Explains How It WorksThis week “Conversations on Health Care” discusses the Biden administration’s National Drug Control Strategy. Tom Coderre, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), explains what harm reduction is and how it’s helping.Join us as Coderre answers questions from hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter about SAMHSA’s mission to reduce the impact of substance use disorder and mental illness on America's communities.
THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2022
Why the Path to Mental Health Goes Beyond Science: America’s Former Top Mental Health Leader ExplainsFormer National Institute of Mental Health director Dr. Thomas Insel discusses how he’s combining his long-standing neuroscience and genetics studies with advocacy for better patient services, which is a topic in his new book, “Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health."Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter ask him about efforts to build public awareness and support for those with mental health issues. He says, “The real tragedy here isn’t that we’re stigmatizing [those with issues], it’s that we have great stuff to offer that we’re not giving them even though it’s hiding in plain sight.”
FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2022
Pulitzer Prize Winner Explains Why “There Is No Way of Getting the Risk of Future Pandemics…Down to Zero”The Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong says the threat of future pandemics requires society to aggressively face and fix racial, economic and health disparities. The acclaimed journalist also explains how his reporting is showing big differences in how COVID is still affecting the U.S. — some communities are “cautiously optimistic” while others are “nearing…the height of the Omicron surge in terms of new admissions.” Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter also talk with Yong about the need for the public health profession to have a strong politically- and socially-minded voice, as it did in its earlier days.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2022
Dr. Deborah Birx Reacts to Vice President Testing Positive for COVID; Criticizes Trump White House Pandemic CommunicationsFormer White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx shared her perspective about Vice President Kamala Harris testing positive for COVID with “Conversations on Health Care.” Birx says, “I think [the vice president’s diagnosis] illustrates our very dilemma right now. She was vaccinated, boostered and then reboosted just a month ago and I’m sure she will do incredibly well. She has access to all of the really critical therapeutics…people get infected despite full vaccinations and boosting.” Birx told hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that the “mishandling of communications by the Trump White House caused significant issues on the ground no matter what state I went into and caused amazing confusion among the American people.” Birx answered questions as she talked about her new book “Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It's Too Late.”
THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2022
TV’s Jane Pauley’s Personal Story: Why Community Health Centers Matter to HerJane Pauley has been a familiar face on America’s TV screens since she started on NBC’s “Today” and continues as anchor of CBS “Sunday Morning.” Her interest in mental health has grown through the years as she faced her own challenges and as she became connected to behavioral health leaders in her home state of Indiana. Now her name graces the front doors of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center and she’s a powerful advocate for the services they, and all community health centers, provide. Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter talk exclusively to Jane about this work and with Marc Hackett, CEO of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center.
THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2022
Reaction to Philadelphia’s New Mask Orders: “A Little Premature”
“It feels a little premature…I might have waited a little longer to see what happens.” That’s the reaction from COVID expert Dr. Robert Wachter to Philadelphia’s decision to again require people to wear masks indoors, including in schools and daycares. It’s the first major American city to take this step. Wachter is chair of the Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco and a popular voice on Twitter. He also shares that policymakers, including those looking at renewing public transportation mask orders, must consider that the public is tired of wearing masks after over two years. Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter’s full interview with Dr. Wachter is available now.
THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2022
APHA Executive Director: $10B in New COVID Funding Needed, Being Spent ResponsiblyDr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says the legislative agreement for $10 billion in new federal COVID funding is “really a drop in the bucket.” He says more dollars are needed to build up public health in all parts of the U.S. He responded to some political complaints by assuring taxpayers that public health officials are indeed financially accountable.Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter also asked Dr. Benjamin about the reorganization plans for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; he says it needs a greater focus on emergency preparedness.
THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2022
CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure Breaks Down President Biden’s Health Budget GoalsCMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure discusses President Biden’s increased health budget proposal for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is focused on health equity, mental health parity, and nursing home safety as key goals in the coming year. The Administrator says more resources are being allocated to address the nation’s mental health crisis, especially for the nation’s children still being impacted by the pandemic. Administrator Brooks-LaSure, the first African American woman to hold that office, says nursing home vaccine requirements and safety regulations should continue to inform that health sector. She says that all US government health agencies have been tasked with making health equity the centerpiece of their policies and programs moving forward. She says supports for insurance subsidies provided by the American Rescue Plan is vital to maintaining health coverage for millions of vulnerable Americans.
THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2022
Ukraine Doctor’s War Dispatch: Horrific Criminal ActsDr. Iryna Voloshyna, a primary care medical professor in Ukraine, shares a harrowing account of how she and others have tried to deliver urgently needed oncology medication to patients but “can’t give them to our people…because there is no road, there are only Russian military soldiers who try to kill everyone who tries to bring boxes.” Dr. Voloshyna tells Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that she and her daughter had to sleep on the subway station floor for a week, and their lives are still interrupted by air sirens. She says the Russians have “criminally interrupted” the Ukrainian way of life.
TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022
From the Front Line in Romania to Washington DC: Project HOPE Supporting the Refugee Crisis
Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome Project HOPE’s CEO Rabih Torbay and Director of Emergency Response and Preparedness Tom Cotter, who joined the show from the field in Bucharest, Romania. They share the daunting task of providing extensive support and local training to the existing medical infrastructure in handling both the destruction of medical facilities within Ukraine and the millions of refugees in need of medical and behavioral health services as they arrive in neighboring countries. “These people have all experienced trauma,” Cotter said. They are training local laypersons in Psychological First Aid techniques to help the refugees transition to safety. Project HOPE is also keeping supply lines going into Ukraine with desperately needed medical supplies. “Even if this conflict ended tomorrow, the destruction will take years to rebuild,” Torbay said. They expect to be assisting in the region for a long time. And they continue to provide medical support in 30 countries around the world dealing with COVID-19, famine, and military conflict, with a particular focus on women and children’s health.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2022
Building on the Legacy of Global Health Leader Dr. Paul FarmerAs the world faces enormous challenges, in Ukraine and from COVID, it’s doing so without one of its global health champions. Dr. Paul Farmer, the co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, unexpectedly passed away in February.
This week Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health, shares memories with Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter. She explains how the nonprofit’s focus will remain on community health in the countries it serves.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2022
Ukraine: Live Interview with Physician at Her Clinic
The whole world is watching as Russian troops advance in Ukraine and brave medical professionals are on duty throughout the crisis. One of them is Dr. Kateryna Pochtar, who shares her chilling description of how she and her colleagues are trying to help patients in their clinic. Dr. Pochtar explains how patients are crying in her arms as her life consists of just work, hiding and sleep. She tells Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that some patients are afraid to seek medical care because they worry they’ll be trapped outside during an air alarm.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2022
Omicron’s Health Inequities: N.Y. State Health Commissioner Vows to Close Gap
Dr. Mary Bassett, New York State Commissioner of Health, says the COVID Omicron variant is still exposing health inequities — African Americans in New York have been hospitalized twice as much as the majority population during this latest wave. Bassett says achieving health equity “will be the North Star of my working life as a physician committed to public health.” Bassett also tells Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that the state has four times as many hospitalized now compared to the pandemic lull last summer. Yet she also notes the hospitalization and case rates are going down.