How Karen Hacker worked to resuscitate the Allegheny County Health Department

Hacker, the county’s highest paid employee with a salary of more than $220,000, said she thinks she should be judged on the progress she’s helped to usher in, including reduced lead poisoning in children, fewer opioid overdose deaths and a steady decline in air pollution that is on the verge of coming into compliance with the law.

But a number of constraints made the work difficult.

A tale of two fires: Allegheny County health officials change approach after second fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton plant

After a Dec. 24 fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, Allegheny County Health Department officials discussed internally how to respond. The department considered issuing an emergency order to require U.S. Steel to take steps to reduce its emissions, email records show. Officials went as far as drafting such an order, they said. But they didn’t issue it because the company was already voluntarily taking many of the steps the county believed would keep residents safe.

Nine years after the Affordable Care Act, these Pennsylvanians struggle to afford health insurance

The Affordable Care Act [ACA], a 9-year-old overhaul to the U.S. health care system, is intended to make health insurance accessible for everyone by expanding Medicaid and making insurance easier for individuals to buy without an employer. Since its passage and a 2015 expansion of Medicaid, Pennsylvania saw big jumps in the percentage of residents covered by insurance. But there are significant gaps.

Cathy Welsh, 44, of Turtle Creek, lost her son to gun violence in November 2018. The mural (left) in the Greater Valley Community Services in Braddock depicts teenagers and young adults from Woodland Hills who have also died due to gun violence since 2005. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource

Tree of Life trauma victims may find allies in neighborhoods experiencing chronic gun violence

Experts in trauma care differentiate between sudden violent events, such as the Tree of Life shooting, and chronic forms of violence, such as war zones or ongoing gun violence within neighborhoods. In Pittsburgh, chronic gun violence occurs in some neighborhoods, but not others, and that trauma is disproportionately carried by the city's black communities.