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

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.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

One day when Amy Plouffe was at work, she felt a sharp pain on the left side of her body.

“The side of my rib cage down to my hip and my leg was very, very sore. It felt like I pulled a muscle or something,” Plouffe said from her home in Bloomfield, New York.

Her doctor gave her a prescription to treat a pulled nerve, but it didn’t help. And then, a couple of days later, she felt something in her right breast.

Residents of Wayne and Ontario counties eligible for nursing home care now have another option to try. ElderONE is a new center in Newark, run by Rochester Regional Health, which operates on a national model called Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly or PACE. There are already three such PACE centers in Rochester.


People with serious mental illness who have been arrested for misdemeanor crimes are less likely to end up with additional criminal convictions and stay in treatment longer with the right combination of interventions, according to a new study.

New York State Department of Health

How the Republican health care bill could play out would look different from state to state. Some states would pursue waivers, meaning they wouldn’t need to cover certain health services. Others, like New York, are not expected to pursue the option to drop coverage programs – but still, the proposed federal budget cuts may force some difficult decisions.

A tourist from India with measles visited several places in the region on May 11 and May 12, 2017, exposing others to the disease.

Under the American Health Care Act, people would not be penalized for not having health insurance, initially. They would only encounter financial penalty when signing up for insurance after more than 63 days of being without it. By most accounts, this means healthier people are less likely to sign up for insurance.

“That’s one of the big concerns with this Republican health plan, is that you have a combination of ‘you’re not required to buy health insurance when you’re healthy, but you’re allowed to buy it when you get sick,’” says Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center. And that, he says, could have unique implications in New York.


The Medical Society of New York State has decided to ask doctors for their opinions on physician assisted dying.

The medical society, which has about 30,000 members made up of physicians and medical students, has maintained its position of opposing physician assisted dying since 1992.