Helen Ouyang’s articles bring to light difficult societal issues that people often don’t like to think about. This week in The New York Times Magazine she writes about hospice homes that support terminally ill children and their families.
May 17, 2019
Helen Ouyang is an emergency physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She is also a prolific journalist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, Harper's Magazine and other publications. She was a 2018 finalist for the National Magazine Award.
For her, the roles are complementary. “As a doctor, I like being on the front lines, to help human beings at difficult, vulnerable times in their lives. Often, they are confused and scared,” Ouyang says. “Journalism, particularly long-form journalism, gives me contact with people I don’t have time to talk with in-depth at the hospital, allowing me to explore their stories from many angles.”
Ouyang’s articles bring to light difficult societal issues that people often don’t like to think about – end-of-life choices, inadequate health care for the rural poor, Syrian refugees who are survivors of rape – and engage readers through the eyes of those who share their stories.
This week in The New York Times Magazine she writes about pediatric hospice homes that support terminally ill children and their families coping with the unimaginable. “It was one of the most difficult pieces I’ve reported,” said Ouyang, who earned her medical degree at Johns Hopkins and holds a Master of Public Health from Harvard.
The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face. But as Ouyang spoke with families who had gone through the hospice experience, she also witnessed joy.
“The parents were so grateful for the care they received,” Ouyang said. “They wanted to talk about their children and remember them.”