Weerasekara, Poornima

Poornima Weerasekara is a graduate of the Graduate Journalism Program at Stanford University. Poornima currently works as a freelance journalist.

New Study Reveals Dangers of Prenatal Pesticide Exposure

By Poornima Weerasekara

Endless rows of lettuce, celery and broccoli, covered by silver plastic sheets, surround the Natividad Medical Center, a community clinic located in the heart of this agricultural town, often called the salad bowl of America.

At about 10:30 a.m., Salinas Valley resident Marie, a Mexican-American farm worker who didn’t want to give her real name because she is participating in a research study, troops into one of the center’s research labs housed in an old trailer with her two children.

She has brought her 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter in for their routine blood and urine sampling. The research station is littered with toys, kids DVDs and various puzzles and activities. While her daughter grabs some crayons and a coloring book, Helen Aguirre, a research worker, gently prods Marie’s son onto a scale to record his weight.

Health Reform Could Bridge Ethnic Health Care Gap

By Poornima Weerasekara
New America Media

In California, where 70 percent of those without health insurance are people of color, the new health care law could help reduce ethnic health disparities.

But speakers at the recent Ethnic Physician Leadership Summit in Los Angeles stressed their concerns because many details for implementing the new law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), are yet to be finalized.

Oakland’s Small Businesses Brace for Oscar Grant Verdict

By Poornima Weerasekara
New America Media

Black-and-white posters of Oscar Grant’s smiling face are plastered on many downtown shop windows, especially on 17th Street, which suffered the most damage after riots broke out to protest the deadly police shooting that killed the 22-year-old butcher’s apprentice on New Year’s Day last year.

As the trial of former police officer Johannes Mehserle, accused of killing Oscar Grant, draws to an end, with a verdict anticipated as early as this week, city authorities advised small businesses to stock up on plywood, board their windows, and follow Twitter updates from the Oakland police in anticipation of more civil unrest.