Michelle Faust

Reporter, WXXI

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.

Before coming to the Northeast, Michelle was Morning Edition Host and Spanish Language Producer at KAWC Colorado River Public Media in Yuma, AZ. At WXXI, she occasionally returns to the early shift as a fill-in host.

Michelle had press credentials before she had a driver's license, working for newspapers in both high school and college. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Romance Languages in 2002 from the University of Oregon. After a year teaching English in Nîmes, France, Michelle returned to UO to complete a Master of Arts in Spanish literature in 2005.

Ways to Connect

Environmental services worker Jeanna Hibbert scrubs the hospital room to get rid of C-diff bacteria.
Michelle Faust / Side Effects Public Media

It’s usually doctors and nurses who are seen as the life-savers at hospitals. But when it comes to preventing certain lethal infections, the hospital’s cleaning staff play a vital role.  

The most common hospital-borne infection in U.S. hospitals is a stubborn spore that’s spreads easily and is tough to remove.

Michelle Faust/ Side Effects Public Media

Three-year-old Jaime is excited to talk about what he’s learning in school today. “I’m happy!” he declares while showing off a card with a smiley face and the word “happy” at the bottom. Why?  “My mommy loves me!”

Interacting with these feelings cards is part of the curriculum at Jaime’s preschool, a federally-funded Head Start site in Rochester, New York.

Michelle Faust

At 17 years old, Daryl Chatman is more interested in football than he is in health insurance.

The high school athlete turns 18 this summer. His foster parents Brenda and Kent Davis worry about what might happen if he’s injured on the football field. They want to adopt him before his next birthday so he can get on their insurance.

“He’s going to be a part of our family forever no matter what, whether its adoption or not,” says Brenda Davis. “I would really like to make sure he's covered.”

Michelle Faust

“Alright, we’re going to go check those eyes and ears now buddy. Ok?” Nurse Kristen Marrese leads 4-year-old Daniel Atkinson down the hall for an eye exam. It’s part of his routine check-up at a clinic in Rochester, New York, Starlight Pediatrics.

During the visit, which took nearly two hours, Daniel also got up to date on his vaccines and his nurse practitioner gave him a thorough check-up of his growth and development. He’s been coming here since he was an infant.

Michelle Faust

Excited and hungry, three children chant as food is served (“We want potatoes! Potatoes!) and ask what else is for dinner (fish and green beans as it happens). The hubbub continues until Mom cracks down:

“Please! Sit. On your bottom.” The children obey. They continue to buzz as they eat.

Courtesy University at Buffalo

Primary care doctors and medical students will now be able to gain accreditation as addiction medicine specialists. The American Board of Medical Specialties announced this week its approval of a new medical subspecialty intended to increase the number of physicians qualified to help patients with addiction.

One person leading the push to create the specialty was Richard D. Blondell, professor of family medicine at the University at Buffalo in New York and an expert in addiction medicine. Over the last several years, he worked with the American Board of Addiction Medicine to establish standards and an accreditation process for new training programs in dozens of medical schools around the country. Now, graduates of these programs will be able to be certified in the subspecialty. The new certification means doctors in the field have been trained and tested at consistent high standards recognized by their peers.

Side Effects’ Michelle Faust spoke with him about his efforts to build a workforce of physicians trained to work with substance use disorders.

Svante Myrick speaking at a press conference.
Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

Ithaca, New York, population 30,000, is a small city with a big plan to counter heroin addiction, announced by mayor Svante Myrick Wednesday.  The strategy includes a 24-hour crisis center, a new office of drug policy, and something that’s never been tried before in the United States: a medically supervised site where drug users could inject heroin.

When kids drink more water and less sugary drinks, rates of obesity decrease, a new study finds.

Researchers compared the body mass index of elementary and middle school students in New York City before and after getting water coolers installed in their schools.

Doctor Steve Cook, pediatrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the findings in JAMA Pediatrics are positive. Cook encourages parents to limit the number of caloric beverages their children consume.

Less than a quarter of teens have been tested for HIV, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Gottfried's Office

Colorado’s pending vote on universal health care this year has renewed discussion of the topic among health care reform advocates around the country. There are a handful of other states that have active movements promoting universal health care, or single-payer systems, including New York.


A new study that associates antidepressant use in pregnancy with autism is no silver bullet.

Researchers in Quebec published findings in JAMA Pediatrics that found a slight increase of incidence of autism in children of women who used antidepressants during their pregnancy.

A leading obstetrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center says pregnant women should not be alarmed.


Raucous laughter fills a small communal kitchen as ten men shout and joke with each other in Spanish after a long day of picking apples on an orchard in Orleans County in Western New York.

They’re playing a game of charades. But instead of pantomiming movie titles or celebrities, the men are acting out symptoms of acute pesticide exposure, which include things like rashes, headaches, vomiting, and eye irritation.


A few days into heroin detox—when you’re still in the throwing-up phase of withdrawal—is not a good time to learn your insurance is refusing to pay for your stay. That’s what happened to 22-year-old Joe (a pseudonym) in 2012 when he was in an inpatient detox in Oregon.

Joe’s mother Elaine had checked with the insurer in advance to see if they would cover the care, but then she got the call from the detox center warning Joe was about to be kicked out. The insurance company was refusing to pay because it wasn’t a life or death situation. 

Michelle Faust


Addiction specialists argue that substance abuse is best treated when it’s managed like any other chronic disease—with specialist care. But the country has a shortage of doctors trained in this specialty.

Victims of domestic violence can qualify to sign up for health coverage outside of the regular open enrollment period. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to remind people of this during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Nicole Greene is the Deputy Director for HHS’ Office on Women's Health. She says one reason a person would stay in a violent home is to keep health insurance for themselves and their children.

School nurses learn to use naloxone
Michelle Faust/Side Effects

AnneMarie Zagari found her teenage son unresponsive on the couch after he took too many opioid painkillers in 2011. She began pounding his chest and slapping his face, and finally succeeded in reviving him by giving him CPR. It was a terrifying moment. And that panic wouldn't have been necessary if she'd had access to the drug naloxone (also known as Narcan), which can instantly reverse an overdose.

"It would have been instant revival," Zagari says.

This story aired on NPR's Morning Edition, September 16, 2015

The personal details of approximately 10.5 million health insurance customers have been exposed by the latest cyber-attack on the health care industry.

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and Lifetime Health Companies, upstate New York's largest health insurer, discovered the attack on August 5th this year. The cyberattack exposed information like birthdates and social security numbers, and also patients’ member identification numbers, financial account information and claims information.

Blue Cross Blue Shield offices in Lansing, Michigan. The health insurer has requested increases of 10-11% on its Michigan insurance plans for 2016
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The cost of health insurance premiums - the amount you pay each month for your plan -  will likely go up in 2016. If state governments approve insurers’ proposed hikes, the average cost for the most common health plans on the federal and state health insurance marketplaces will increase by 14 percent, according to an analysis of proposed rates by HealthPocket, an insurance research and comparison site.

Michael McFadden

Six-year old Jason Green squirms in a dental chair at a clinic in Sodus, New York while a hygienist probes his mouth with an unusual instrument. It looks like an electric toothbrush, but it is a camera and it’s capturing images that allow Jason’s dentist to inspect his teeth in detail--from 30 miles away. The dentist, Dr. Sean McClaren, practices at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health in Rochester, NY, but he sees several patients a week in this rural community, via a secure internet connection and a video call.

At 59 years old, Michael Froome just got a new heart.  His problem goes back 20 years after a chest pain led his doctor to order a cardiac stress test.

“When they put on the last electrode so the monitor comes live with your data, someone in the room goes, ‘Oh! That’s not good,’” Froome recalled.

Spencer Rosero, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, is one of Froome’s doctors. He has an idea that could cut the number of hospital visits patients like Froome have to make.

Beverly and Pack via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The rate of suicide among military personnel has more than doubled since 2005.  A study released earlier this month in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found no connection between suicide and deployment.

The study looked at military members who served during the latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Researchers found elevated rates of suicide among veterans with fewer than four years of service, and among those who received other-than-honorable discharges.

Three seniors in the nursing program at the College at Brockport follow Professor Jennifer Chesebro through a long nondescript room with eight occupied hospital beds along the walls.

Chesebro addresses each patient by name, and handles them with the tender touch that she’s developed in 21 years of nursing.

Each patient has their own unique ailments for the students to practice treating, but they stare up with hard fixed plastic eyes. The patients in this room don’t respond to their caregivers—they’re mannequins.

Across the country, nurses are the most likely to be injured doing their jobs. For many nurses, back and joint pain is a fact of life but so is the risk of violence. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, health care workers are at a 5 times greater risk for assault than people in other professions. 

A hospital can be a stressful place and patients can be unpredictable.

Emily Roth sits in a café after a long weekend shift. The 27-year old obstetrics nurse eats a sandwich and gushes about her 15-month old daughter. Her smile puffs her cheeks up, lifting her brown rectangular-framed glasses away from her face.

Roth has been a nurse for three years and she loves her job, but she hasn’t always felt that way. "I was going home pretty stressed out on a regular basis. I would go home and cry to my husband sometimes," she said.

Michelle Faust

Palmer Gaetano served in the army in France and Belgium World during War II. The 92-year old now lives in a hospice facility in Spencerport, near his daughter and her family.  He proudly points to an American flag quilt and pin, and two plaques, now hanging on the walls which he received during a private ceremony held in his honor shortly after he entered hospice in late 2014. A group called We Honor Veterans presented each of these items to him. “It was quite a day for me,” he says.