Kelly Casey

Kelly loves telling people's stories. She began her journalism career at the Pitt News, University of Pittsburgh's student newspaper. For several years, she was a general assignment and Sunday feature writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. After moving to Virginia, she joined the University of Virginia Medical Center marketing department. For the past several years, she has focused on health writing, including serving as regional editor for the nationally syndicated quarterly magazine, Vim & Vigor. She was lulled back to Western Pennsylvania in 2006 but continues to work for UVA from afar and is excited to be once again reporting on the Pittsburgh region. Kelly lives in Oakmont with her husband and two sons.

Is it Really Better to Give than to Receive?

Dr. Gary Swanson has been the recipient of two gifts given in his honor: a goat donated to a family in Africa and trees planted along the streets of Detroit. As someone who likes goats and hails from Detroit, he appreciates the thoughtfulness behind these gifts. But, research shows it was the gift giver who …

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A Deeper Look at Health

When Kelle Cunningham had her first appointment with David Lobur, M.D., it was unlike anything she had ever experienced. They talked for 90 minutes. “He wanted to know all about my health history: How I was born? What I did. He just wanted to know everything about me, which I never had happen before,” says …

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Lyme: Pittsburgh’s Growing Epidemic

Ever since her Peace Corps days in Uganda, Libby Ernharth has been fascinated by infectious diseases. In Africa in the 1990s, she first saw the havoc wreaked when parasites and other tiny organisms make their way inside of human hosts. Later, when she became a physician assistant in Pittsburgh, she dealt mainly with “first-world infections—the …

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Making a Splash

More than a century ago, scientists figured out how to deploy sound waves to locate the position and distance of enemy submarines. This discovery would also lay the groundwork for using high-frequency sound waves to peer inside the human body and usher in the age of ultrasound. Today, ultrasound (or sonography) is the most widely …

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Hard to Swallow

It started with a cough and the need to clear her throat whenever she ate. Eventually, swallowing became more difficult—and even dangerous—for Patricia Grimm, 63, of the North Side. “I’d be at Red Lobster eating a salad or in the car eating a hamburger and I’d start choking,” she says. ”When you can’t breathe because …

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The Trouble with Sugar

As a liver specialist for more than 25 years, Dr. Michael Babich has seen a seismic shift in his practice. No longer are viruses or chronic alcoholism destroying the livers of most of his patients at Allegheny Health Network. Now, it’s the overconsumption of fructose—an industrialized form of sugar that has crept into the American …

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What Does It Take to be a Living Donor?

Michaela Cook of Beaver Falls didn’t hesitate to give her husband one of her kidneys in 2010. The couple had two young children when Erik Cook’s organs were damaged beyond repair by type 1 diabetes. Like most living organ donors, Michaela was motivated by the desire to help a very sick loved one. A small …

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Starzl’s Growing Shadow

Brothers Tim and Joe Scherer have always been close. They play on the same men’s softball team in Beaver County. They talk on the phone every day. Whenever one needs help on their home, they’re there for each other. In August 2015, Tim learned he needed a kidney. For reasons unknown, his body attacked his …

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Stepping Up

Leonardo Da Vinci called it a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. He was referring to the human foot—a lever that propels us forward, provides balance, and bears all of our weight. Though small compared to other parts of the body, the average human foot supports a force equivalent to several hundered tons …

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Ankle Joint Replacements on the Rise

While arthritic hips and knees have long been regularly replaced, surgeons have been reluctant to replace ankle joints. But that’s changing. “In the past five years, we’ve gotten so much better at total ankle replacements,” says Dr. James Sferra, director of the Division of Foot and Ankle Surgery for Allegheny Health Network. “Today, I do …

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YMCA Leads Effort to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

More than one third of American adults are pre-diabetic. This means a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, putting them at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Patrice McNeely of Hazelwood falls into this group but is determined not to follow in her family’s footsteps. “I just turned 45 …

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Dissecting Diabetes

When Steve Lawthers takes a golf swing, his arm rubs against a small device attached to his skin, near his belt. “Other than when I play golf, I don’t know it’s there,” says Lawthers, 61, of McCandless. The device constantly measures his blood sugar and displays it on his iPhone. He got it by participating …

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Unfounded Fears of the HPV Vaccine May Have Grim Consequences

The virus is hearty, robust and everywhere: on our skin, our fingertips, our countertops. Most of us can fight it off. But certain strains can lead to chronic infections and later cancer for an estimated 25,000 American men and women. The human papillomavirus (HPV) has long been known as the major cause of cervical cancer …

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Breaking the Silence

At age 35, after a long labor and birth of her second child, Lisa (not her real name) developed urinary incontinence. She kept it a secret even from her then-husband, a military man. “He never knew. It’s humiliating… Even bringing it up to the Army doctors was embarrassing. They said, ‘Oh well, that’s what happens …

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Is Being Overweight the New Smoking?

Since hitting puberty four decades ago, Claudia Pianko has struggled with her weight. “When I was in 6th grade, I was 144 pounds,” she says. By last January, the 5’ 8’’ Greensburg woman weighed in at 385 pounds. Not surprisingly, Pianko, now 54, has a slew of weight-related health problems: high blood pressure, diabetes, knee …

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Stroke Alert

It was around 10 p.m. on a summer evening a year ago. Kelly Pieczynski of North Braddock was chatting with her 21-year-old daughter about her day at Kennywood. When Pieczynski went to kiss her goodbye, she thought she was saying, “I love you. Drive safe.” But all that came out was mumbling. Her daughter, in …

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3-D Mammograms Premier in Pittsburgh

When Diana Napper gets a compliment on her crystal bracelet, she can’t help but make a life-saving sales pitch. “This bracelet is funding some of the best technology in the world,” says Napper, 58, of McCandless. The technology is digital breast tomosynthesis—more commonly known as 3-D mammography. This breakthrough in breast cancer screening can detect …

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Plastic Surgery on Your Wish List?

In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to hear someone boasting about her plastic surgeon. In Miami, people don’t brag so much but definitely don’t hide cosmetic work. In these parts, plastic surgery is rarely a topic of conversation but is thriving. “One of the charming things about Pittsburgh is that plastic surgery is done here …

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Rethinking Depression

Growing up in New Castle, Brenda Weingartner, 53, was a teenager when she had her first of many bouts with depression. “Back then, my parents didn’t have a good understanding of mental illness and what to do for it,” she said. “My mother’s suggestion was to go talk to the minister. That was her generation’s …

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Who’s Afraid of Obamacare?

In 1998, Bob McCafferty set out to start a business that would pay the bills and give him more free time to go camping. He bought a run-down funeral parlor dating to the 1850s. For the next several years, he spent nights restoring the building while holding down jobs as an archaeologist and bartender. He …

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Three Percent of You Isn’t You

Susan Lambie was desperate. It was the summer of 2009 and her mother’s health was deteriorating rapidly. What began as a cold turned into pneumonia. Then her mom developed Clostridium difficile—a nasty bacterium that causes severe diarrhea. Each year, C. diff strikes more than a half million people, especially the elderly after taking antibiotics, as …

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Too Fat Too Young

Michelle Penn-Nored of Penn Hills has been dealing with type 2 diabetes since her late 40s. She’s determined to keep her daughter from having the same fate. Last August at 10-year-old Meccah’s wellness exam, Penn-Nored talked with the physician assistant about getting a prescription so Meccah could join Weight Watchers. She carried a lot of …

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