Paige Pfleger

Reporter, WOSU

Paige Pfleger is a reporter for WOSU, Central Ohio's NPR station. Before joining the staff of WOSU, Paige worked in the newsrooms of NPR, Vox, Michigan Radio, WHYY and The Tennessean. She spent three years in Philadelphia covering health, science, and gender, and her work has appeared nationally in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Atlas Obscura and more. 

Ways to Connect

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

Across the Midwest and the nation, many COVID-19 cases have been concentrated in nursing homes. It’s often the result of an outbreak. But sometimes, it’s actually by design. 

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On Aug. 3, Zach Matheny’s blood thinning medication was filled at his pharmacy, and sent out for delivery via the U.S. Postal Service. It never arrived at his home in Columbus, Ohio.

Health officials in the Ohio county that includes Columbus have apologized after releasing a document advising African-Americans to avoid face coverings that might be interpreted as being "associated with gang symbolism.”

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

Christopher has been struggling with addiction since he was 14. He uses heroin, and he says things have been hard since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prisoners can be heard coughing on calls coming out of Marion Correctional Institution, a minimum- and medium-security facility an hour north of Columbus, Ohio.

And mass testing recently revealed more than 80% of prisoners has contracted COVID-19, making Marion the nation's largest known COVID-19 hotspot.

Photo by Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media.

Universities across the U.S. -- including Purdue, Indiana University, Ohio State and Iowa in the Midwest --have moved to suspend or cancel classes amid the spreading coronavirus.  This move has left some students scrambling. 

Paige Pfleger, Side Effects Public Media

The Midwest is home to one of the largest Amish populations in the nation. And many of these settlements overlap with rural Appalachian counties, where access to healthcare is hard to come by. But a project in Ohio aims to help by bringing cancer screenings to Amish women. 

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

Paramedic Scott Widener crouches in the back of an outfitted ambulance.

“I am six foot and I’m duckin',” he says, laughing.

Equitas Health

In many Midwest states it’s illegal for someone with HIV to have sex without telling partners about the illness. Some public health experts are pushing to change those laws.

Photo by Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media.

At first glance, the people inside Franklin County Municipal Court room 13C have little in common. There’s a man in cutoff jean shorts with tattooed arms. Behind him sits a younger woman with freckles who looks like she came from soccer practice.

The group is bound together by circumstance: All were addicted to opioids and got in trouble with the law.

Paige Pfleger, Side Effects Public Media

Holmes Co., Ohio, is a patchwork of farmland. Modest houses perch on sloping hills and laundry hangs from clothes lines, flapping in the wind. There are horses and buggies – some driven by farmers in straw hats, others by women with their hair covered in bonnets, babies on their laps.

Holmes is one of the healthiest counties in Ohio. It’s also the least insured.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Monique Williams McCoy greets everyone walking down Cleveland avenue like a neighbor.

"Hey y’all!" she calls out. "You coming over to check it out today, right? Over to the mobile market?"

Williams McCoy has lived in this part of Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, and she’s familiar with how hard it can be to shop for groceries here. She works for Local Matters, an organization that tries to improve food education and access.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Bouncing on a purple exercise ball, Alyssa talks to her new teacher about what classes she needs to graduate.  "There’s a Psychology 1 as an elective, I would take that, but I already took psychology and sociology... And I feel like Heartland in general is a psychology class," she says, laughing.

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

"This is the spot," Marilyn Evans says, standing in the empty parking lot of the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, Ohio.

The Women's Med Center is the only health clinic for miles around that provides abortions. Now, it’s embroiled in a legal battle with the state that could lead to its closure – the clinic couldn’t obtain transfer agreements from local hospitals, as required under Ohio law.

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

Nicole Dempsey remembers crying in a pew at church, watching a video of a woman with long dark hair and deep brown eyes. The woman was talking about her abortion, and how a local organization called Heartbeats helped her heal.

"And I thought, 'Wow, that’s what’s been missing in my life for 24 years,'" Dempsey says.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Deepa Halaharvi is a morning person.

"Eat, read, pray, and get ready to go to work," she says, laughing. "And usually I’m out the door around 6:15 or 6:30."

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

An Ohio doctor being investigated for the suspicious deaths of dozens of hospital patients has been charged with 25 counts of murder.

Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

Experts often blame illicit fentanyl for skyrocketing overdose deaths among illegal drug users. Now a series of deaths at an Ohio hospital is raising questions about oversight in prescribing pharmaceutical fentanyl.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

“I water my horses out of this creek down here,” Jeff Ivers says, resting his hand on his horse’s nose.

He looks out over his land: 43 acres, surrounded on three sides by Perry State Forest, with a small creek running through it.

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

The Columbus, Ohio, area has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. And local judges say their courtrooms are jammed with misdemeanor cases that are tied to addiction. Eager for solutions, they're turning to a  treatment clinic in an unlikely location.

The main entrance to Mount Carmel West Hospital is shown Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins / Associated Press

Janet Kavanaugh was 79 years old and near death when she was transferred from an assisted care facility to Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus. Her family requested that lifesaving measures be stopped, and that Kavanaugh be comfortable for her remaining time.

Paige Pfleger/Side Effects Public Media

Alisha Floyd bounces her son Chance on her lap. He giggles and pulls her hair.

“He’s the fattest baby here,” she says, laughing.

Lauren Chapman/Indiana Public Broadcasting News

Health care was a big campaign issue across the Midwest, and Tuesday's election results were mixed. Among the winners: medical marijuana.

Photo by Steve Rainwater is licensed under CC 2.0. https://www.flickr.com/photos/steevithak/38676565790/in/photolist-21VHvxd-29CkoKn-24Xntgq-23CjviE-25N9oiy-Fkwenx-22eU9tE-HHHr9i-E27ecB-24VWTtE-MjkYbQ-L6RWTK-29qisaF-29FHLcp-25tzq3h-GRUtqw-JMDVEK-26CjHeS-2

Across the Midwest, health care has emerged as one of the year’s biggest campaign flash points — in races from U.S. Senate to state attorney general.

PAIGE PFLEGER / WOSU

Ohio’s first transgender and gender non-conforming health and community center is a cross between a funky '80s apartment and a modern doctor’s office.

There are a few couches gathered around a TV, a kitchen, a small stage and a few exam rooms. Mikayla Robinson, the center's engagement specialist, wears a "Miss Gay Ohio" sash, which matches the brightly colored walls.