Karen Shakerdge

Reporter/Producer - Health

Karen Shakerdge covers health for WXXI News. She has spent the past decade asking people questions about their lives, as a documentary film producer, oral historian and now radio reporter.

Karen spent months producing Exited, a podcast about young people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities navigating life after high school, which she developed with colleagues at NPR’s Story Lab.  

Karen has a bachelor's degree in cultural studies and media studies from The New School and a master's degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

In 2016, the Association of Health Care Journalists recognized her story about liver transplantation with an Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Her two-part story about donor breast milk banks received an Outstanding Public Affairs Program award from the New York State Broadcasters Association in 2017. 

Ways to Connect

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

In the first episode of Exited, explore an early factor in transition – graduation tracks – through the experience of 17-year-old Nate, a student who doesn’t quite fit on any one track.

High school plays a huge part in determining what happens next in a young person's life. And for students like Nate, it can get even more complicated.

Leaving the world of adolescence and entering the adult world — the real world — can be a confusing time for anyone.

But for young people with disabilities, it can feel like arriving at a cliff as they leave behind the cocoon of school and sometimes struggle to find a place where they belong.

Exited, launching Nov. 13, is a podcast that will bring you the stories of eight young people, ranging in age from 17 to 26, as they navigate transitions in various settings – high school, higher education, sheltered workshops, day programs and home life. 

Empire State Development

Holy Childhood, the non-profit, non-denominational organization  based in Henrietta that helps people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, has officially opened its expanded bakery operation.

It’s called ‘Special Touch Bakery,‘ and the 20,000 foot facility is located on Mount Read Blvd. It provides employment and training for people with disabilities as well as produces pies, which it has been serving in Rochester for decades.

Now, with the help of Palmer Food Services, Holy Childhood has plans to eventually distribute to more than 25 states.


The Trump administration is cutting funding to programs that promote Obamacare – by a lot.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a statement detailing major changes to  budgets for advertising and grants to nonprofits that employ navigators to help people sign up for plans.

By CDC/ James Archer

Clostridium difficile is a common bacteria that can be harmless. But for some – especially older adults taking antibiotics who visit hospitals or nursing homes – it can cause serious infections. A vaccine being studied to prevent these infections is making headway.

Transgender New Yorkers should now have a greater chance of getting medical services covered by insurance.

New York State has issued a letter that says insurance companies cannot deny a claim because a consumer identifies as a gender not typically associated with a service.

This letter comes from the NYS Dept. of Financial Services after it got word that some health insurance companies were denying claims from transgender consumers.

New medical marijuana policies could be coming to New York State in the coming months.

The NYS Department of Health  says the policy changes should make access to medical marijuana easier. 

If these guidelines are adopted New Yorkers would see a few changes to the current medical marijuana setup.

For one - companies that are registered to make and sell medical marijuana would be allowed to make more products.

A new study in Pediatrics, led by a Rochester General Hospital physician, explores reasons why ear infections rates have been dropping. 

To learn more about ear infection rates, researchers with the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute spent 10 years following 615 children in the Rochester area. They gathered ear fluid, ran tests, and tried treatments that stray from the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

For the first time, veterans with an other than honorable discharge can access mental health services at VA centers. Veterans with this kind of status served in the military but have not been eligible for benefits until now.

A new study finds New York is an outlier in more ways than one when it comes to health care spending.

The latest analysis from The Pew Charitable Trusts “Fiscal 50” series looked at state economic trends over a period of 15 years.