WLAE: Keeping New Orleans Healthy

WLAE: Keeping New Orleans Healthy

This winter one in five Americans will get the flu. More than 200,000 people will be hospitalized with the virus.

Public broadcasting has a long tradition of reporting on the latest medical breakthroughs and procedures. Recently, PBS NewsHour held a national live chat with CDC experts answering viewers' questions about the meningitis outbreak. Locally, public television and radio stations are committed to helping keep their communities educated and healthy.

Connecticut Public Broadcasting's radio program The WNPR Health Forum interviews some of the leading minds in medicine, covering a wide range of topics each week. Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Southern Remedy series includes a weekly call-in radio program hosted by local doctors, as well as television programs tackling two of Mississippi's health concerns: obesity and teen pregnancy.

In New Orleans, La., public television station WLAE is providing area residents an opportunity to have their medical questions answered. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, WLAE, a leader in medical and health related programming on television for over 25 years, decided to focus aggressively on creating local content that would make a difference in the community. For many New Orleans residents, getting medical care is a problem — especially for those who do not have a regular doctor and those who have lacked insurance.

Doctor and Patient

After Hurricane Katrina, Ochsner Hospital began offering healthcare seminars, called Hello Health, around the New Orleans community —from the Bayou, West Bank, North Shore, South Shore, and Baton Rouge. The seminars allow doctors and medical professionals to educate local residents on various health topics, including symptoms and treatment options. Each seminar draws an audience of between 40 to 60 people. Since 2007, more than 1,200 residents have attended Hello Health seminars.

Based on the success of the seminars, WLAE teamed with Ochsner to create a television version of Hello Health, designed to educate and answer residents' questions about their health.

Launched in 2008, Hello Health is a one-hour program broken into two parts. The first 30 minutes includes a presentation of a medical topic by doctors from Ochsner Hospital. In the final 30 minutes, the doctors answer live phone calls and email questions from viewers. In addition, episodes of Hello Health are also available on the WLAE and Ochsner websites.

Hello Health receives an average of 10-15 phone calls and emails per each program. No matter what the topic, the many questions from viewers reveal that people are very much interested in their health and are thankful that WLAE presents a forum for discussion of medical and healthcare issues.

“The Hello Health partnership between WLAE and Ochsner Hospital has proved very beneficial for our patients and physicians. Not only are we able to reach the public with valuable medical information on television, but also via website streaming and at our community outreach seminars,” says Susan M. Piglia, Director, Corporate Wellness at Ochsner.

In addition to producing Hello Health, WLAE produces several other weekly studio productions providing a forum for national, state and local governments. The station also diverse educational programming for Southeast Louisiana and has produced award-winning programs, such as GoCoast Louisiana and the documentary Fats Domino: Walkin' Back To New Orleans. WLAE was founded in 1982. The station began broadcasting in July 1984 and was licensed in 1985.

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