Emily Ramshaw Editor

Emily Ramshaw oversees the Trib's editorial operations, from daily coverage to major projects. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she received a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Recent Contributions

State Halts Daystar Admissions, Reports New Abuse

Texas officials have halted the placement of foster care children at Daystar and have assigned the Houston-area residential treatment center a state monitor following revelations of a staff-instigated “fight club” incident two years ago and a new incident that has come to light this past week: a possible sexual assault of a girl living at the facility.

Out of State Kids May Suffer in Texas Care Facilities

Richard DeMaar in his Fairbanks, Alaska home.
Richard DeMaar in his Fairbanks, Alaska home.

Alaska officials sent 16-year-old Richard DeMaar 4,000 miles away from his parents to a psychiatric facility in San Antonio because his home state wasn’t equipped to handle his severe depression. Within six weeks, he had tied a makeshift noose around his neck, strangling himself to death. He's one of roughly 900 out-of-state kids sent to residential treatment centers in Texas in the last five years, part of a national compact that allows states that don't have adequate psychiatric services to send kids to states that do. But the practice has come under fire from children’s health advocates, who say it takes kids away from their families and their communities — two things they need to make a full-fledged recovery.

Staff Forced Disabled Girls to Fight in Youth Home

The Dystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Friday, June 4, 2010.
The Dystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Friday, June 4, 2010.

Workers at a center for distressed children in Manvel provoked seven developmentally disabled girls into a fight of biting and bruising, while they laughed, cheered and promised the winners after-school snacks. The fight was one of more than 250 incidents of abuse and mistreatment in residential treatment centers over the last two years, based on a Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune review of Department of Family and Protective Services records.

Few Texas Inmates Get Released on Medical Parole

An inmate sleeps in his cubicle in the geriatric unit of the Estelle Prison in Huntsville.
An inmate sleeps in his cubicle in the geriatric unit of the Estelle Prison in Huntsville.

Texas’ “geriatric” inmates (55 and older) make up just 7.3 percent of Texas’ 160,000-offender prison population, but they account for nearly a third of the system’s hospital costs. Prison doctors routinely offer up the oldest and sickest of them for medical parole, a way to get those who are too incapacitated to be a public threat and have just months to live out of medical beds that Texas’ quickly aging prison population needs. They’ve recommended parole for 4,000 such inmates within the last decade. But the state parole board has only agreed in a quarter of these cases, leaving the others to die in prison — and on the state’s dime.

Texas Tribune Interviews Dr. Kenneth Cooper

Dr. Kenneth Cooper
Dr. Kenneth Cooper

The world-renowned Dallas doctor who essentially invented jogging as exercise talks with the Tribune about health care reform, the crisis of obesity in Texas, and what lawmakers must do to shore up the physical-education legislation they passed last session.

Nurse Practitioners Want Less Doctor Oversight

Family nurse practitioner Jean Gisler at her office in Victoria, Texas.
Family nurse practitioner Jean Gisler at her office in Victoria, Texas.

In Texas, nurse practitioners’ livelihoods are tied to physicians: By law, they can’t treat patients without a doctor’s permission. That means if they want to open their own practice, they must petition, and pay, a doctor to grant them “prescriptive authority” — to essentially keep an eye on their work and, in some cases, to be held liable for it. Doctors say this is as it should be. Nurse practitioners and their allies say doctors don't want the competition and charge them enough to run them out of business. “It borders on an immoral situation,” says state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center.

Internationally Trained Doctors Work in Texas

That’s right — they’re not from Texas. Newly licensed physicians enlisting to treat the state’s Medicaid and Medicare patients are more likely to have been trained at international medical schools, according to a review of state medical licensing data.

IQ Scores Keep Autistic Young Adults From Services

Cameron Maedgen enters his apartment in San Angelo. Maedgen, an autistic, brain-damaged, 19-year-old, is ineligible for state services because his IQ is too high — but too low-functioning to live without assistance.
Cameron Maedgen enters his apartment in San Angelo. Maedgen, an autistic, brain-damaged, 19-year-old, is ineligible for state services because his IQ is too high — but too low-functioning to live without assistance.

What's in an IQ score? For autistic or profoundly mentally ill Texans: everything. A growing number of disabled young adults are considered too high-functioning for state care services, but their families say they’re too dangerous to go without them. Admission to state-supported living centers is limited to disabled people with IQs under 70 — and community-based care is generally capped at an IQ of 75.

Dallas DA's Refusal of AG Assistance a Rare Move

Greg Abbott (left), Craig Watkins (right)
Greg Abbott (left), Craig Watkins (right)

Depending on whom you ask, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins’ repeated refusal to allow Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott into a local corruption investigation is either bold or stupid. Either way, it’s unusual. Abbott has offered prosecution assistance to local district attorneys 226 times since 2007, when lawmakers first gave him permission to do it. In all but 16 cases, he’s been invited in. And Watkins didn't decline politely.

Dallas DA Campaigns Nationally to Hold Local Seat

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins won’t go so far as to compare his support to the near-divine fervor of President Obama’s. But Watkins, who gained national prominence for using DNA evidence to exonerate nearly two dozen wrongfully convicted people in one of Texas’ notoriously tough-on-crime jurisdictions, will come close. “It’s a religious experience to vote for Craig Watkins,” Texas’ first African-American D.A. says without irony. Like Obama, he says, other Democratic candidates are “hanging their hats” on his re-election — and on the minority voters he draws to the polls. Like Obama, he’s got “a big target” on his back. “I’ve got to fight the political attacks coming at me from all directions," he insists. “I’ll say it publicly: If you throw punches at us, we’ll drop a bomb on you.”