Last month, freelance writer Dave Jamieson wrote a piece for the Washington Post Magazine about the millions of Americans who use emergency rooms for all their medical issues. The story focused on one “frequent flier” (as these non-insured individuals are called) for the article, “The Treatment of Kenny Farnsworth.”
For his socially-conscious writing, Jamieson has earned this month’s Sidney Award, an honor presented by the Sidney Hillman Foundation for outstanding journalism.
“Jamieson used the classic journalistic technique of focusing on a single individual to illuminate a vast national problem: a dysfunctional health care system which wastes up to $32 billion a year by treating chronic, non-urgent problems with emergency care rather than primary care,” said Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser. “Jamieson’s story proves that providing basic health care in an emergency room makes no economic sense.”
Full press release after the jump.
Read More: The Treatment of Kenny Farnsworth —Washington Post Magazine
Dave Jamieson Wins November Sidney for Story on a Health Care “Frequent Flier”
–New Monthly Journalism Award Recognizes Social Justice Journalism–
The Hillman Foundation announced today that Dave Jamieson has won the November Sidney Award for his Washington Post Magazine article “The Treatment of Kenny Farnsworth,” a compelling account of a homeless man in Washington, D.C. who, like millions of Americans, depends exclusively on hospital emergency rooms for medical care.
Over the last decade Jamieson’s subject has made hundreds of 911 calls to get treatment for everything from pancreatitis to irritable bowel syndrome. With a typical visit to the emergency room costing upwards of $1,000.00, credit agencies are currently dunning Farnsworth for approximately $500,000.
Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser said, “Jamieson used the classic journalistic technique of focusing on a single individual to illuminate a vast national problem: a dysfunctional health care system which wastes up to $32 billion a year by treating chronic, non-urgent problems with emergency care rather than primary care. Jamieson’s story proves that providing basic health care in an emergency room makes no economic sense.”
People like Farnsworth are known as “frequent fliers” among emergency responders. Jamieson reports on a program started in the Bay Area in which teams of paramedics, social workers and nurse practitioners seek out these patients so that they can provide them with more effective and long-lasting treatment as opposed to the quick fixes they receive in emergency rooms. The program has since been so effective in reducing emergency room visits by “frequent fliers” it has now been replicated in Memphis, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
Jamieson is a 31-year-old freelance writer living in Washington. A former staff writer for the Washington City Paper, Jamieson has also written for Slate, The New Republic, and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. His first book, Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession, will be published by Atlantic Monthly Press. Last year he was the winner of a Livingston Award, for “Letters From an Arsonist,” a cover story in the Washington City Paper which profiled an arsonist who had burned Washington buildings down over many years.
The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which also awards the annual Hillman Prizes every spring. Winners of the Sidney receive $500, a certificate designed by New Yorker cartoonist Edward Sorel, and a bottle of union made wine.