WXXI AM News

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

Attorney Ann Williams meets her 33-year-old client for the first time at a legal clinic in Rochester, NY.

She asks him questions about what it’s like to have one name and gender legally and another name and gender in his daily life.


New York State Department of Health

Increased  coverage for transgender medical care and services are taking effect for Medicaid plans in New York.

The Department of Health has established that young people, under the age of 18, will now receive coverage for hormone therapy deemed medically necessary, according to the notice filed in the NYS Register.

Four SUNY Geneseo students have confirmed cases of the mumps. These four students did have the proper two dose vaccination, which is supposed to immunize a person from the virus.

Dr. Steven Radi, medical director of health services at SUNY Geneseo, says 15 students who have not received the vaccine have been told to stay away from campus for about a month. But because the four students who got the mumps had been vaccinated, it’s hard to know who exactly is at risk.

Flickr/Vaping 360

Researchers at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health have linked electronic cigarette vapor with gum disease. 

Fawad Javed, a co-investigator of the study, says that the use of electronic cigarettes is increasing and people might be under the wrong impression that they are far less harmful than conventional ones.

David Hutchinson got health insurance for the first time in his life about a year ago. Now he’s worried he might lose it.


Karen Shakerdge

People find themselves in all kinds of unexpected situations on or leading up to Election Day —including ending up in the hospital.

The New York Milk Bank is small, spotless and noisy. Two massive stainless steel freezers are stocked with little glass bottles of pasteurized breast milk. A deep freezer in the corner is filled with bags of milk to be pasteurized.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

You may have heard a few different numbers regarding insurance costs rising for 2017. Not all states have the same rate increases. In New York, plans are going up an average of 17 percent.

Not sure what these changes in premium costs mean for you? Or what you need to do if you're already on a health plan through the exchange? Wondering if you need to bother with the exchange if you get health insurance through your employer? 

Public health is due for an upgrade. That was one take-away of a recent lecture from a 20-plus year veteran of the field, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health 3.0 is what the Department of Health and Human Services has named its recent call to action to close significant health gaps - through collaboration across sectors to address systemic issues.

Courtesy of Columbia Care

A new pill is on the market in New York state:  a medicinal marijuana pill. Manufacturer and distributor Columbia Care, which has a location in Rochester, says they are the first in the country to put this kind of pill on the market.

Instead of using a chemically synthesized product, Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita says, the pills contain a natural botanical extract from cannabis plants grown in Rochester.    

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