"Petrie Dish" is a weekly explainer podcast on the coronavirus and its ripple effects with bioscience and medicine journalist Bonnie Petrie from Texas Public Radio. This page is assembled for awards consideration purposes for content produced in 2020.
These three episodes exhibit the program's commitment to covering underserved communities and bringing strong, local characters to a wide listening audience. As a program, "Petrie Dish" is not afraid to cover social issues like racism and inequity or more complex subjects related to health, medicine and death.
COVID-19 has exposed all Americans to an increased risk, even while doing the most mundane things: shopping at the grocery store, going to work, and taking walks. But it’s also exposed how communities of color are largely defenseless in the fight against an enemy that does not discriminate, but rather reveals to us our own discrimination.
The “Petrie Dish” special episode, "Why Can't I Breathe?' How Systemic Racism Makes COVID-19 Worse For Communities Of Color,” explores the complex challenges faced by three different communities — the Rio Grande Valley, the Navajo Nation and New York City — during the pandemic and how residents of color are coping with disparities in resources and healthcare.
Texas is in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, but one area is in crisis. Hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley are near or at capacity, and EMS crews are stretched thin.
Dr. Ivan Melendez takes us inside his office — an overwhelmed ICU in Hidalgo County, which has been designated as a “medically underserved area” by the Health Resources and Services Administration. This means it has too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, high elderly population — or all of the above.
This also means that during the pandemic, it lacks doctors, nurses and specialists. It doesn’t have enough oxygen to send patients home early to free up hospital beds. It doesn’t have enough hospital beds. And there are no hospitals in Hidalgo County or in neighboring Cameron County.
How did the Valley get here? What is behind this region’s COVID-19 Surge? This episode, "Tragedy In The Rio Grande Valley: A 'Perfect Storm' For A COVID-19 Outbreak," explores the mix of factors, from resources and politics to the census.
More than 170 hospitals in Texas report intensive care units near or at capacity, according to federal data. More than 130 report "critical staffing shortages."
It's a bad pairing. Staffing shortages reduce quality of care, cause larger care centers to reject transfers at higher than normal rates, and can lead to burnout and "compassion fatigue." These figures come as the state experiences its worst surge in cases yet, setting multiple records throughout December.
The "Petrie Dish" special episode "Overwhelmed And Understaffed: Rural Hospitals Struggle With Texas' Worst COVID-19 Surge," introduces the audience to health care professionals who are coping with COVID-19 on limited resources and support.
Bonnie Petrie and Dominic Anthony Walsh – Reporters/Producers for "Overwhelmed And Understaffed: Rural Hospitals Struggle With Texas' Worst COVID-19 Surge"
Bonnie Petrie, Dominic Anthony Walsh, Michael Treviño, and Reynaldo Leaños Jr. – Reporters/Producers for "Tragedy In The Rio Grande Valley: A 'Perfect Storm' For A COVID-19 Outbreak"
Michael Treviño, Pauly Denetclaw, Lucy Huang, Bonnie Petrie, Dominic Anthony Walsh – Reporters/Producers for 'Why Can't I Breathe?' How Systemic Racism Makes COVID-19 Worse For Communities Of Color
Jacob Rosati – Sound Design and Music for the "Petrie Dish" podcast
Fernanda Camarena – Executive Producer for the "Petrie Dish" podcast
Dan Katz – News Director for Texas Public Radio
Click here to view letters of support for the "Petrie Dish" podcast.