Kate Martin, lead investigative reporter for Carolina Public Press, on Friday received the 2020 Media Award from Friends of Residents in Long Term Care for her body of work writing about nursing homes and pressing government agencies for answers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bill Lamb, Chairman of Friends of Residents, presented the award to Martin, “in recognition for your total effort and body of work this year in calling attention to the needs of long-term care residents most vulnerable to the impacts of this pandemic.”
Most vulnerable hit hardest by coronavirus
State officials initially resisted disclosing which nursing homes had COVID-19 outbreaks. After consistent pressure from Martin and other reporters during regular press calls, along with pointed records requests, the state released lists of congregate care facilities twice per week.
Martin’s reporting revealed that long-term care homes and nursing homes had convinced legislators to carve out an exemption from liability in a state law intended to provide relief from the coronavirus pandemic. She also helped lead coverage with the North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network on the topic as more than 40 percent of all deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care settings.
Intersection of personal and professional
In late May, Martin’s father, Jack Bowen, died in a long-term care facility in Topeka, Kansas.
“I feel like my experience with my father informed my reporting,” she said in her acceptance speech.
The collision of personal and professional made the topic deeply personal for her, as she discussed on “The Politics Podcast” with WUNC politics reporter Jeff Tiberii in August.
About Friends of Residents in Long Term Care
Friends of Residents in Long Term Care is a nonprofit committed to advancing the quality of life for the 100,000 individuals who receive long-term care in North Carolina, which includes nursing homes and adult care homes.
This is the second time CPP has received this award from Friends of Residents. The first recognized a four-part investigative series in 2017, “Questionable Care,” which examined three years of public records about North Carolina adult care homes, many of which are meant to house the mentally ill. The series revealed that state and local oversight was inconsistent and led to deficiencies in adult care homes that led to tragic outcomes.