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


One of the biggest proposed changes in the ACA repeal bill is about Medicaid. Medicaid now functions on a per person basis. If you qualify, you get it. But in the bill released earlier this week, lawmakers have proposed changing over to a block grant program. That means each state gets a fixed amount of money. If the population that needs Medicaid grows or shrinks, that amount of money remains the same.

Courtesy Mike Groll

Religious leaders gathered in Albany to show their support for aid in dying legislation. The event was part of a larger campaign advocating for terminally ill patients to have the right to ask for medical assistance to die.

Reverend Richard Gilbert, a retired minister of the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, spoke at the rally.  

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

For community health centers, the Affordable Care Act has brought significant financial changes. For one, more insured patients show up for care, which brings higher reimbursement rates to clinics. But centers, like Jordan Health, have also benefited from the government pumping more money into the section 330 grant.

“The number of folks that we now have added to the team to make sure that our patient is healthier has been major,” says Dr. Janice Harbin, president and CEO of Jordan Health, a community health center with 10 locations throughout Rochester and Canandaigua.

The window to sign up for health insurance through the New York state Marketplace has come to a close.

Even though there are lots of questions about what may happen to the current health care system - the marketplace was busier than ever.

In the final two days of the open enrollment period just over 45,000 New Yorkers signed up for health insurance.

January 31st - the deadline to sign up was the busiest day ever for the Marketplace’s website - with nearly 3 million page views.


Emergency rooms must care for anyone who shows up, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. Amy Pollard, CEO of University of Rochester Medical Center’s Noyes Hospital, in Dansville, knows that federal law well.

“If you had no health insurance, but you felt ill and you presented to an emergency department here we have to take care of you. And we have to take care of you knowing we may not get paid anything for that care,” Pollard said.

But with the Affordable Care Act a lot more people -- an estimated 20 million -- got health insurance. That means hospitals haven’t been eating costs as much.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

While the New York state health exchange fields its busiest enrollment period yet, uncertainty looms.

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without significant replacement, could cost 2.7 million New Yorkers their health insurance, and the state $3.7 billion, according to an estimation released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, which means organizations are talking about cervical cancer, HPV and prevention.

Courtesy Aimee Levesque

At the Golden Globe Awards this year, Meryl Streep received an honorary award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

In her acceptance speech, she criticized President-elect Trump for mocking a reporter with a disability. Trump, who denies that, dismissed Streep’s comments on Twitter.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

University of Rochester medical students gathered to protest a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They are one of many groups of medical students across the country signing a petition to express opposition to an overhaul of the health care reform act without a meaningful replacement.

freeimages.com/B Boy

The number of New Yorkers signing up for health insurance through the state health exchange continues to climb. In recent weeks nearly 3.5 million people enrolled in plans.

It’s  just about a month away from the Open Enrollment period wrapping up and participation in the state’s official health plan Marketplace, has increased more than 22 percent compared to last year.