Kate Wells | Michigan Radio

Kate Wells


Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."

Wells and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Hospitals will be inspected by state officials in the coming weeks to ensure they’re providing staff with sufficient personal protective equipment, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last week.

This comes after the state’s received reports of at least 15 hospital workers whose deaths were potentially linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The “state emphasis program” will “increase MIOSHA’s presence in hospitals to enforce the requirement to provide appropriate PPE to protect hospital staff and ensure they can continue to care for those most in need,” the agency said in a public statement. 

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Early treatment with hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly in certain sick patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — and without heart-related side-effects, according to a new study published by Henry Ford Health System. 

Anastasiia Chepinska/Unsplash

Linda Vail isn’t sure how much longer she and her staff can keep working 18-hour days. 

The Ingham County health officer is squeezing in a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast while she does this intervew over Zoom. It’s been a busy couple of weeks: As of Tuesday, her staff tallied more than 100 COVID-19 cases connected to Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub, an East Lansing spot popular with college students. 

Courtesy of Jonathan Marko

The family of Cornelius Fredericks, a 16-year-old boy in foster care who died after being improperly restrained by youth facility staff, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the facility’s parent company.   

Update: Wednesday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m.   


Starting Monday, 15 churches in Pontiac and Southfield will offer free COVID-19 tests on a rotating basis over the next two weeks.

It’s a joint effort with Oakland County health officials to reach two communities hit hardest by the pandemic: Black people and older adults. Officials say African Americans make up just 14% of Oakland County’s population, but represent 33% of the COVID-19 cases, and about 36% of the deaths there. Nearly 80% of COVID deaths in Oakland County were people over 70. (Statewide data shows similar disparities.) 

martin philbert
University of Michigan School of Public Health

Martin Philbert, the former provost of the University of Michigan who was fired following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, has "voluntarily relinquished" his faculty position and no longer receive tenure, the University announced Wednesday.

Three months after confirming its first case of COVID-19, Michigan's death rate is one of the highest in the nation, even as the number of new cases reported daily has been falling dramatically. 

Courtesy of Patrick Echlin

It’s a hot day to be laying brick, but Patrick Echlin is working on the patio at 734 Brewing Company in Ypsilanti. He and his co-owners celebrated the brewery’s second anniversary just last week, amidst very different circumstances than when they opened. 


Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

A small group of mostly Arab-American organizers led a march of more than 200 people through the streets of Dearborn Sunday afternoon, in support of the Black Lives Matter rallies held across the country in the past week and a half. Calling for the formation of a citizen’s police oversight committee and other reforms, activist Nasreen Ezzeddine told the crowd, “The reality is, we do not need to look beyond Dearborn’s borders to find cases of police brutality and anti-blackness, left unaccountable.”

Kendal @hikendal for Unsplash

Michigan is now testing nearly 15,000 people per day on average, state officials say. That’s a big improvement. But it’s still far short of the “robust level” of 30,000 daily tests needed “to help us identify any new cases and swiftly contain the disease,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Friday. 

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is joining 17 other state AGs in asking Congress to expand federal law to give them "clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing,” Nessel’s office said Thursday. 

“We therefore ask Congress to give us explicit authority under federal law to conduct

Courtesy of Maureen Biddinger-Grisius

The nurse’s husband woke her up the night she started screaming in her sleep.

“I was crying.” she said. “I cannot remember what the dream was about, but it was so real.”

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of protesters, many of them students and young people, came out to at least two separate marches in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, marking more than a week of nearly daily protests in the city.


Treatment and trials go on, but Michigan doctors split on coronavirus drug

May 8, 2020
doctor holding hydroxychloroquine
baranq / Adobe Stock

Thousands of people are being recruited to participate in southeast Michigan clinical trials — touted as among the largest in the country — to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in the battle against COVID-19.

But since a 3,000-person Detroit trial was announced April 2, an increasing number of reports have shed doubt not only on the drug’s effectiveness, but also its safety. Some warn of potentially deadly changes to the heart’s rhythm — an alarming side effect so widespread the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a closely-monitored hospital setting or clinical trial.

Emergency room hospital

A Detroit nurse says he was fired for speaking out about COVID-19 related problems in his hospital, adding to the list of several Michigan health care workers who say they faced similar retaliation.   

In a Facebook Live video posted on Wednesday, Sal Hadwan says he was fired from Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit. 

“I was called to HR this morning, and basically was told that I’m getting terminated,” he said in the video. “They think I leaked the photos to CNN.

EVG Photos for Pexel

Dr. Matthew Sims’ laptop camera is strategically set up so you can’t see his 9 and 12-year-old daughters’ legos and puzzle pieces scattered across the living room floor. In video meetings, all you can is a barrel-chested man with a thick salt-and-pepper mustache and goatee, sitting in front of a bare white wall, next to a tasteful potted plant. 


Emergency room hospital

You can now look up the number of COVID-19 patients at a particular hospital or health system, as well as the total capacity of beds being used, and the number of days of personal protective equipment left on hand.

C/O Luda Khait-Luda Khait-Vlisides

Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As lawmakers debate how we can safely start returning to normal life, here’s what you need to know about this “plateau” in Michigan cases, and how the experts say we can avoid a second surge.

Andrea Piacquadio for Pexel

Thousands of healthcare workers in the Metro Detroit area have contracted COVID-19 in the last five weeks. And while at least 7 have lost their lives and others have been hospitalized, the majority are returning to work - knowing some coworkers haven’t been as fortunate.

“You see that and you just think, ‘Why was I OK?’” says Cyndi Engelhardt, a critical care nurse who’s also a manager in one of Henry Ford Hospital’s Intensive Care Units. “And...I had some survivor's guilt with that.”

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Doctors at Henry Ford Health System, one of the largest and hardest-hit networks in Detroit’s COVID-19 outbreak, say they are “safely in a plateau stage, and hoping to reach a recovery” in terms of hospital admissions and other indicators.  

But that good news was tempered by a warning: nobody knows when it will be safe to stop social distancing

Paulette Parker

Henry Ford Health System says it's in the "middle of the surge" of COVID-19 cases, and expects to hit a peak in the next few days. But administrators say they’re also seeing some signs of hope.

“We have three pieces of good news to share today,” Dr. Steve Kalkanis, CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group, said in a press briefing Thursday. “One, we’re discharging patients to home more than those who show up to the emergency rooms. Secondly, we’re getting patients successfully weaned off of ventilators, more than those who need to go on ventilators.

Doctor or nurse sitting down with hands clasped
Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

Eventually, the money was just too good to pass up.

“When you're overworked and understaffed, you’re going to go somewhere where they're going to be more appreciative of you,” says a nurse who spent years at Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace, before leaving to a two month, $4,000 per week contract at a New York hospital two weeks ago. At Sinai-Grace, she was making $850 a week after taxes, she says.

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Nurses working the night shift at a Detroit hospital staged a sit-in late Sunday to protest what they say are dangerously low staffing levels in the ER.

The nurses say they were asked to leave the hospital, Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace, as a result.

lisa ewald
Courtesy of Aubree Farmer

Updated April 4, 10:33 am: Lisa Ewald, a 54-year-old nurse who worked for more than 20 years at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, died this week after telling friends and family she’d tested positive for COVID-19.

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Updated April 2, 11:00 pm: The president of the Michigan Nurses Association says members are being asked by their employers to transfer to hospitals in metro Detroit, where health systems are reaching capacity amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases

Despite the extra risk inherent in those jobs, the requests aren’t coming with any guarantees about personal protective equipment, says Jamie Brown, president of the MNA and a critical care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo.


doctor wearing mask
Ashkan Forouzani / Unsplash

More Michigan healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak are getting sick.

Some are testing positive for the virus themselves – at Sparrow Health System in Lansing, at least seven caregivers have tested positive, even though that area hasn’t been nearly as hard hit as metro Detroit.

Other doctors and nurses have been exposed, but are being asked to return to work before their quarantine is over, raising questions about hospitals’ back-up plans and staffing capacity. 

But what happens if we get to the point where there’s a serious shortage of critical care providers, is still an open question. 

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio


This story was updated March 27 at 9:15 am.

A draft letter outlining which patients would be prioritized if Henry Ford Health System runs out of ventilators or Intensive Care Unit beds, was leaked on social media Thursday night. 


This is a kind of “worst case scenario” letter, a spokesperson said in response, and the kind of planning that’s "standard with most reputable health systems."

Olga Kononenko for Unsplash.com

Henry Ford Health System

Holding up face shields and masks fashioned from “nylon jersey fabric, elastic bands, Velcro, tongue depressors and air filter material,” Henry Ford Health System nurses Mariah Foster and Chantell Krage explain in a YouTube video how they’re “coming up with a product that would be safe for our patients and staff” in light of dire supply shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.