Michell Eloy

Reporter

Michell (yes, no ‘e’) covers health and health care policy for WABE, with an emphasis on investigative reporting. She’s also a member of NPR and Kaiser Health News' team of reporters covering health care in the states. Prior to covering health, Michell worked as a general assignment reporter for WABE, covering state and local politics, education issues, courts and everything in between. 

An Illinois-native, Michell comes to WABE and the Atlanta area from Chicago, where she spent three years working and interning in the Windy City’s media scene. She got her first state of covering public affairs and breaking news as an intern at WBEZ, where her reporting ended a years-long bid by Chicago City Hall and the police department to build an outdoor gun range on the city’s south side. She then spent a year copy editing and writing feature stories for the Chicago Tribune before deciding to return to public radio.

Michell’s work has been published by NPR, Kaiser Health News, Marketplace, Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, Chicago magazine and Paste magazine. She received a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Ways to Connect

Alison Guillory / WABE

This story is part of "Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics," WABE's series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here.    

On a sunny summer day in downtown Atlanta, students dart across the main plaza of Georgia State University, with very few students lingering in the stagnant, 90-degree heat.  

Mike Stewart / Associated Press

With Atlanta set to see its fifth straight day of protests, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called on demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Last week's police killings of two black men – one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other outside Minneapolis – kicked off protests nationwide. Those protests intensified after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas.

Rica Madrid poses for a photograph as she prepares to roll a joint in her home on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes,
Alex Brandon / AP Photo

A new report out of the University of Georgia says legalizing medical marijuana lowers national prescription drug costs.

The father-daughter research team looked at prescriptions filed from 2010 to 2013 with Medicare's prescription benefits program, known as Part D. They then narrowed the search to the District of Columbia and 17 states that had legalized medical marijuana as of 2013, and chose nine conditions for which marijuana could serve as an alternative treatment.

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

Georgia's Republican U.S. Senators weighed in Tuesday on the FBI's recommendation not to bring charges against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of private email servers while she was secretary of state.

FBI Director James Comey said, while Clinton's handling of classified data over private email servers was “extremely careless,” he said “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

More than 100,000 people who get their health insurance through UnitedHealthcare will likely have to pay more to get care at most Piedmont facilities starting Friday, after the two deadlocked on a new network agreement.

United and Piedmont had until Thursday to reach a new agreement before the current three-year plan expired. After months of negotiation, the two couldn't work out a plan before the deadline.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says heroin overdoses tracked throughout most of the state more than doubled last year compared to the previous year.

The GBI says so far it's counted 134 people who died of an overdose related to heroin in 2015, compared to 61 in 2014. The agency says last year’s number could still go up because there are a few cases the medical examiner hasn't finished.

Last year marks the second time in a row Georgia saw heroin overdoses double year-over-year.

Fulton County officials have unveiled dozens of new proposals as part of an “action plan” to ultimately end new transmissions of HIV and AIDS, including one that could butt up against a state law.

Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

Around 150,000 Piedmont Healthcare patients could soon find their doctors are no longer in their network if the hospital system fails to reach an agreement with insurer UnitedHealthcare by next week.

In a letter to patients last week, Ronnie Brownsworth, who leads the Piedmont Clinic, warned United plan holders that the network would likely no longer accept the insurer’s commercial plans come July because negotiations for a new contract had stalled.

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

There’s more evidence mounting that Georgians who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act could pay even more for their coverage next year.

Atlanta Streetcar
Alison Guillory / WABE

Members of Atlanta's City Council say the city should look into MARTA taking over full operation of the streetcar after state officials threatened to shut the light rail system down. 

At a transportation committee meeting Wednesday, council members grilled city and MARTA officials over how they’re addressing dozens of problems flagged by the Georgia Department of Transportation in a letter sent last month.

Councilman Kwanza Hall said that the city should let MARTA take full control of the system.

Emory University drug development groups are working to find a treatment for those infected by the Zika virus.
Ricardo Mazalan / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Public Health is increasing efforts to track the mosquito species known to carry the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects and other neurological disorders.

Researchers say Zika can be carried by two species of mosquitoes. There's the Asian Tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, which is more common in Georgia.

The primary carrier, though, is the Aedes aegypti, and its prevalence here isn't as well documented, DPH’s Director of Environmental Health Dr. Chris Rustin said.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue has drawn quick criticism for comments he made about President Barack Obama and the Bible this morning.

Speaking at an event for Christian Conservatives in Washington, D.C., Perdue started his comments by telling attendees to pray for Obama.

Georgia's freshman senator continued, “But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray. We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, 'Let his days be few, and let another have his office.'”

That particular psalm continues:

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Michelle Wirth / WABE

The Republican head of the Georgia Senate's Health and Human Services committee says the state needs to “re-examine” expanding Medicaid.

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) didn’t endorse the idea of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Rather, she thinks the state should look at negotiating a federal waiver, as other Republican-majority states have done, to tailor how any potential Medicaid expansion would work.

Robert Olsen
Branden Camp / Associated Press

 

A white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, naked, mentally ill black veteran just outside Atlanta pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges against him.

Robert Olsen shot Anthony Hill on March 9, 2015, while responding to a call about a naked man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex. He was indicted in January on numerous charges, including felony murder and has since resigned from the force.

DeKalb County Police Department / Associated Press

A former DeKalb County police officer indicted for killing an unarmed black man is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon.

Robert Olsen faces two counts of felony murder and two counts of violating his oath of office, among others.

He'll be formally read the charges against him in an arraignment hearing in DeKalb County Superior Court. 

Allison Guillory / WABE

Among the countless Georgians who find themselves addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin are women who are pregnant.

Babies who are exposed in utero to these kinds of drugs, along with other licit and illicit substances, can become dependent on them and experience withdrawal symptoms after birth. The medical condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS.

As of the beginning of this year, Georgia’s Department of Public Health made NAS a required reportable condition and began tracking cases.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

Eddie* remembers when his addiction to painkillers started.

The now-28-year-old Ellijay resident got hit in the face with a baseball, broke his nose and got a prescription for hydrocodone. He was 16.

“Just liked the way they made me feel,” he says. “They took the pain away. They gave me confidence. It just kind of stayed in the back of my mind.”

About a year later, Eddie complained to a co-worker that he’d hurt his back during baseball practice. She handed him some more pills.

Alison Guillory / WABE

To Rick Allen, the way Georgia currently monitors prescriptions for drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone has some problems.

“I have been threatened numerous times with going to jail, contempt of court,” said Allen, who leads the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

Michell Eloy / WABE

Zac Talbott sees the irony of running an opioid treatment program in an old doctor’s office.

“The funny thing is, a lot of patients are like, ‘This is where I first started getting prescribed pain pills,’” Talbott says, chuckling.

Now, the Tennessee native says the same people are coming to his clinic in Chatsworth, Georgia, a small city about a half-hour south of the Tennessee border, to fight their addiction to those very pills.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his budget address at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Atlanta. Deal spoke Thursday afternoon to lawmakers charged with reviewing his $45 billion spending plan. Deal limited his comments Thursday to criminal
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday the decision for the state to join a lawsuit challenging federal guidance on transgender students was "appropriate."

The governor said Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens made the call to join 10 other states in suing the federal government over the directive. He said the attorney general's office consulted with him before joining, though, and that the timing makes sense.

Alison Guillory / WABE

 

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013. 

That’s the day David Laws got the call every parent dreads.

“And I just knew something was wrong,” Laws said.

The night before, Laws had spoken with his daughter Laura, who was staying at a friend’s house.

The call came from Laura’s mom, Laws' ex-wife.

“Her mom was screaming over the phone. And I just hung up on her,” Laws said. “Then I picked it up, and she said, you know, Laura’s dead.”

Laura had overdosed on a combination of morphine, cocaine and alcohol. She was 17 years old.

Michell Eloy / WABE

Former DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond beat out two challengers to win the Democratic primary for county CEO during Tuesday’s primary elections. 

Thurmond defeated former county Commissioner Connie Stokes and business owner Joe Bembry handily, with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Thurmond appeared assured of victory relatively early in the evening, dancing, singing and even cracking some jokes.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed speaks during a news conference with the C40 and the Compact of Mayors during the Climate Action 2016 Summit at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Thursday, May 5, 2016.
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Monday his decision to oust the general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the commissioner of the city watershed department was about “moving forward,” though he was quiet on the specifics that lead him to take those actions.

Late Friday, Reed dismissed Airport General Manager Miguel Southwell and Department of Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina.

In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, cooling towers for units 1 and 2 are seen at left as the new reactor vessel bottom head for unit 3 stands under construction at right at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga.
David Goldman, File / AP Photo

Hearings resumed Tuesday on Georgia Power's plans for how much energy it will generate and where that energy will come from.

Every three years, Georgia Power has to outline its energy plans for the next 20 years in a series of hearings over several months.

The utility presented its integrated resource plan, or IRP, to the state Public Service Commission last month. During this round of hearings, scheduled to last through Thursday, commission staff and other interested parties, like environmental groups, get to weigh in on those plans.

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Health insurance company Aetna says it has no plans to withdraw its Affordable Care Act plans in 15 states, including Georgia.

Aetna's announcement Wednesday comes a few months after another insurance company, United Healthcare, said it was pulling out of Georgia and most state marketplaces set up under the health law, also known as Obamacare, amid financial losses. 

In a recent earnings call, Aetna said its goal for individual market plans, which includes plans both on the exchange and off, was to break even this year.

In this Thursday, March 10, 2016, file photo, passengers are reflected in glass as they line up to go through a security checkpoint under the atrium of the domestic passenger terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.
David Goldman, File / Associated Press

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport want travelers to show up three hours ahead of their flights amid long lines at security.

Last week, Hartsfield-Jackson closed the south checkpoint in the domestic terminal, knocking out four of the airport's 28 security lines.

At points over the Mother’s Day weekend and Monday morning, security wait times peaked at more than an hour for travelers, with lines that stretched to the baggage claim area.

James Gathany / CDC, Wikimedia Commons

The possibility for more pesticide spraying amid heightened fears of Zika by both metro Atlanta government entities and private citizens has beekeepers worried.

“If [the pesticide] does contaminate the pollens and nectars the bees are going to, they'll take it home, and then it damages more than just the bee it landed on,” said Cindy Hodges a past president of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. Anyone spraying their yard with pesticides could harm area bee colonies, she said.

Michell Eloy / WABE

Katy Mallory says she’s ready to head to the hospital at moment’s notice: “If we need to get our bags, we actually have them in the car already."

Mallory is pregnant with twin girls, due in early May. Her pregnancy has been relatively routine, except for one twist.

Earlier this year, Mallory’s husband, Dan, traveled to Mexico for business. Mexico is among the countries where the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say mosquitos are actively spreading Zika, the virus that’s been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil.

Those conducting Atlanta's homeless youth count wear T-shirts to clearly identify them with Georgia State University. Survey takers must ask intimate questions, which is why they try to build rapport and come across as non-threatening. One volunteer says
Jim Burress / WABE

 An estimated 3,374 young people are homeless in the metro-Atlanta area, according to a new report from Georgia State University.

Last summer, 50 GSU and Emory students counted young people ages 14-25 who were homeless, in shelters or in other temporary housing situations like long-term stay motels.

Surveyors looked at not just Atlanta, but large swaths of the five core metro counties.

David Goldman, File / AP Photo

Nearly 200,000 Georgia children have been separated from a parent due to incarceration, according to a new report released this week.

The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says 189,000 kids, or about 8 percent of the state's child population, have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their childhood. The state’s average is slightly higher than the national average of 7 percent.

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