COVID-19 deaths were mounting at Indiana nursing homes, state data showed. But what were Indiana health officials doing to help save the vulnerable residents? Working with Editor Lois Norder, The Herald-Bulletin Reporter Whitney Downard dug in, revealing the hidden toll of COVID-19, troubled nursing home ownership groups and key weaknesses in state oversight. Among her findings was that most of the homes with large outbreaks were poorly staffed, to the point that the state was easing training rules and even allowing 16-year-olds to work as caregivers and that the state’s oversight failures left residents at risk even in homes without outbreaks.
Editor: Lois Norder
In a career spanning four decades and four states, Lois Norder has led numerous award-winning investigative projects. After working as a journalist in Iowa and Louisiana, she joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1991, rising to managing editor for investigations and winning a national editing award for helping reporters uncover stories dealing with shoddy healthcare for the poor, misuse of school tax dollars and mistreatment of prisoners. In 2008, she was promoted to managing editor for news, while she continued to direct the newspaper’s investigative work. In 2012, she joined The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as senior editor for investigations. There, she directed the newspaper’s 2016 Doctors & Sex Abuse project, which was a Pulitzer finalist for national reporting and won the Philip Meyer Award and the Scripps Howard Investigative Reporting Award, among several honors. In 2019, she led the AJC’s investigation of senior care facilities, which won the National Headliner Award for public service for newspapers in top 20 media markets. A graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, she and her husband, Steve, have three children and three grandchildren.