Medical group honors BDN writer Haskell

Posted Sept. 14, 2009, at 7:51 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Bangor Daily News reporter Meg Haskell has been honored by the Maine Medical Association, a statewide organization of medical doctors, for her “exceptional” coverage of health care issues in Maine over the past several years.

At the MMA’s 156th annual banquet Saturday night in Bar Harbor, Haskell received the association’s Award for Outstanding Excellence in Healthcare Reporting.

“For nearly 10 years, Maine has benefited from the exceptional health care reporting of Meg Haskell,” MMA’s outgoing president, Dr. Stephanie Lash, a Bangor neurologist, said in remarks delivered by the organization’s incoming president, Dr. David McDermott of Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft.

“Her series the past few years on the opioid addiction issue in the state was timely, compassionate and helped set the stage for increased public interest in the issue,” Lash said. “This year, her story on hospice care received recognition from the Maine Press Association. Finally, we want to … recognize Meg for her regular re-porting on the major health care policy issues in the state, including numerous stories on Dirigo, health care reform and hospital-physician relations. These topics are complex, difficult politically and controversial.”

Lash also praised Haskell for “the passion and compassion for the human condition she demonstrates through her writing.”

Haskell, of Orono, is a registered nurse who practiced direct care for 15 years in a variety of settings. She worked as a nursing assistant at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, one of the smallest hospitals in the state, and as an RN at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, the second-largest tertiary care hospital in Maine. She also provided home nursing visits throughout rural Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties, and worked as a school nurse and in a nursing home.

Her broad clinical experience fueled Haskell’s interest in the workings of the nation’s health care system, and in 1999 she went to work as a reporter for the Maine Times, a respected weekly paper that has since closed. In the fall of 2002, she was hired to cover health care for the BDN, just before Gov. John Baldacci launched his Dirigo Health initiative.

Since then, Haskell has covered issues ranging from hospital politics to hospice care, the biomedical research economy, the crisis of opiate addiction in Maine, public health advisories, the looming shortage of physicians, and the MaineCare computer crisis. During its two-year run, her weekly column on substance abuse issues, “Finding a Fix,” gained national readership and participation. She has been honored by the MPA and other press organizations for stories on Alzheimer’s disease, end-of-life decisions, and the quality of medical care delivered in Maine’s jails and prisons.

In 2007, Haskell helped organize a conference in Bangor on pandemic influenza preparedness. She is working toward a graduate certificate in public health at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

Also Saturday night, the MMA presented its 2009 Mary Floyd Cushman Humanitarian Award to Dr. Constance Adler, a family practitioner at Franklin Health Women’s Care in Farmington. As president of the Women’s Empowerment Network, Adler volunteers at and supports a women’s clinic in Nicaragua, where she provides training and services in obstetrics and gynecology.

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