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A Pittsburgher Will Help Change The Narrative Around Family Caregiving

Matt Rourke
Alzheimer's patient Dorothy Eckert and her husband John Eckert hold hands at their home in Norristown, Pa.

On today's program: A local leader is coordinating a national strategy for how the government can better support family caregivers; how Allegheny County tracks and treats a Hepatitis A outbreak; a Duquesne University forum digs into the mind of a serial killer; and City Council wants some control over how a proposed park tax would be spent. 

Pittsburgher selected to serve on National Family Caregiver Council 
(00:00 — 12:22) 

A Pittsburgher is heading up a national committee created by the federal RAISE Family Caregivers Act to advise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on policymaking strategy for family caregivers.

Nancy Murray, president of the Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, an affiliate of ACHIEVA, will identify actions that federal, state and local governments can take to support people who support aging family members or those with different physical and intellectual abilities.

Murray, who serves among several non-federal members, says it's a good sign the 15 people appointed to the federal committee are caregivers themselves.

"This is more than just a job," she says. "They know what this does to families, and they are just as passionate as we are in making sure that the solutions that we offer are doable." 

That personal connection will ideally help hold lawmakers accountable as strategy is rolled out in mid-2020, she says. Murray was also recently appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to his Council on Reform to improve the support and protection of vulnerable Pennsylvanians. 

Hepatitis A is on the rise in Allegheny County 
(13:50 — 17:40) 

Allegheny County has seen 22 cases of Hepatitis A, a highly contagious liver disease that causes inflammation, since January 2018. County health department officials say it's the highest number in over a decade, and that historically, transmission has occurred outside Pittsburgh. 90.5 WESA's Sarah Boden reports that's no longer the case, and officials are promoting a two-shot vaccine regimen that provides nearly 100% immunity.

The mind of a serial killer: evil genius or just evil?
(17:50 — 33:42) 

Less than 1% of all murders committed in a given year are at the hands of a serial killer, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, yet serial murder remains a phenomenon in popular culture and American media. The facts about serial killers, their motives and their victims are the focus of the 18th annual symposium by the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University.

Joining The Confluence to talk about the conference this week: 

Most serial killers show average intelligence, according to Ramsland. She blames the film and television industry for a misconception that many serial killers are geniuses who all wish to be caught. 

"Of the thousands of serial killers we know, about a dozen have turned themselves in," she says. "Most don't want to get caught, they want to keep doing what makes them feel good." 

Councilors voice concerns about proposed parks property tax
(33:46 — 38:59) 

Members of Pittsburgh City Council met this week to discuss a ballot measure that would raise $10 million a year for the city’s 165 parks. 90.5 WESA's Chris Potter says the hike would raise taxes by about $50 for every $100,000 in assessed property value. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy contends the money would help address a $400 million capital backlog and allow workers to prioritize small neighborhood parks. In a meeting Wednesday, councilors voiced concerns over campaign finances and regulations for how the additional revenue would be spent if the ballot measure is approved

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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