Podcast: Health News Florida Archives

Students Discover Lead In Tap Water May Be Common In Older Homes
Last semester, the students in Laura Manke's community cares class embarked on a project, collecting samples of tap water from their homes. And testing provided by University of South Florida researchers revealed that all of the 46 samples contained lead.
Bilingual Clinic Provides Care To Tampa's Diverse Community
Spanish speakers in the Tampa area have a new health care provider that they can understand. Located on West Hillsborough Avenue, CliniSanitas calls itself Tampa's first multicultural medical center.
Workplace Health Insurance Premiums Still Increasing, But Rate has Slowed
With open enrollment for health insurance getting underway in workplaces, odds are employees around Florida are seeing yet another increase in their premiums. The good news is, premiums aren't going up as fast as they have in the past.
Integrative Medicine: Who Makes The Rules?
The hottest trend in health care these days may be “integrative medicine,” which claims to blend the best ideas from alternative medicine and conventional practice. But there is vast disagreement on what the best ideas are. And it’s not clear who will decide.
Water Tests After Sewage Releases Don’t Give Complete Picture Of Health Risks
The state has received reports of more than 268 million gallons of sewage that spilled onto roads and into water around Florida so far this year and nearly 95 percent of it happened in Pinellas County during Hurricane Hermine. St. Petersburg was the biggest offender, releasing 93 million gallons of wastewater into Tampa Bay. Soon after, water near the downtown beaches tested high for indicators of organisms that cause disease
Research Finds Benefits Of Meditation On Cancer Patients
Researchers at USF and Moffitt Cancer Center found when patients went through a meditation program, their anxiety went down significantly, fear of recurrence was dramatically reduced and some even said they experienced symptom relief.
Want To Watch A Surgery? Just Log Into Facebook
A Florida plastic surgeon streams many of his surgeries live on Facebook and on the mobile app Periscope.
Florida Cities Losing Ground On Key Health Care Indicators
Florida cities are losing ground on key health care indicators, according to a report released today. The researchers say one reason for the decline is the state's decision to not expand Medicaid.
The Negotiator: He Lowers Medical Bills -- And You Can Too
Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. Having health insurance is no guarantee against being swamped by bills after an emergency or a big procedure. But one Palm Beach County man has found there’s room to negotiate.
Helping Florida Families Say Goodbye To Babies Who Die
Everly Hopkins died just before her first birthday last January, from a genetic condition called “Trisomy 18.” Her urn is surrounded in the cabinet by photos of her, and the dresses and headbands she wore. The baby's death prompted her mother to find a way to help families in Florida wanting a dignified opportunity to say goodbye after their child dies. Her family discovered something called a CuddleCot while researching end-of-life options for Everly, Very simply, the CuddleCot is a device that funnels cold water through tubes attached to a plastic mat.
Once Banned, Prostate Cancer Treatment Arrives In U.S.
If you heard that a couple of Florida doctors were meeting patients in the Caribbean for a prostate-cancer treatment not approved in the United States, what would you think? Gotta be a scam, right? That’s what a lot of people thought when they heard about HIFU, or focused ultrasound, and state health officials looked into it. But it turned out that the Florida doctors were using a treatment common in Europe and Japan. As Health News Florida special correspondent Carol Gentry explains, that treatment is now available in Florida.
Zika Defense: Hunting Mosquitoes That Transmit Virus
Gov. Rick Scott has declared a health emergency in five Florida counties with a dozen confirmed cases of the travel-acquired Zika virus: Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Lee and Santa Rosa. Long before this most recent outbreak, mosquito control officers across Florida have been on the front lines, trying to keep at bay diseases such as Zika, chikungunya and dengue.
Who Pays For Telehealth?
Many Florida doctors already practice telehealth, though most insurance companies don't cover the visits. Some telehealth supporters are drafting proposals that state lawmakers could consider during regular session in January, but so far, none have passed muster.
Girls Offered A Glimpse Into Orthopedics
Today, only 4 percent of the nation's orthopedic surgeons and engineers are women, so female professionals from California to Florida are volunteering to expose thousands of girls each year to the specialized fields.
Slow Medicaid Payments Frustrate Midwives, Others
In Florida, there are more than 200 licensed midwives who provide an alternative to traditional hospital births for healthy mothers. But many are frustrated with how slow the payments are coming.
Slow Medicaid Payments Frustrate Midwives, Others
Used to be, Marianne Power could sit down one night, do all of her own billing and get paid 10 days later. That was before Florida hired private insurance companies to manage its Medicaid program in 2014. Power is a midwife in Lakeland. She’s been practicing for 17 years, and most of her patients use the Medicaid HMO program. She’s had problems since Medicaid transitioned to managed care. The transition has been so bad, Power had to completely overhaul her billing system and hire a billing specialist. She blames the HMOs.
Alzheimer's Trial Struggles To Find Participants
When you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease, there’s a huge incentive to sign up for a drug trial. But what if you’re healthy? What’s the incentive? That’s the challenge facing researchers in a groundbreaking double-blind trial of an experimental drug meant to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. It is the Anti-Amyloid Treatment and Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease trial, better known as “A4.” Thousands more volunteers – including Floridians - are needed in the test population: people ages 65 to 85 who appear to have normal memories.
Looking For Hope In A Clinical Trial
Though Ed Hancock doesn’t yet have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, a PET scan last year showed his brain was dotted with amyloid plaque. That meant he qualified to participate in a three-country “double blind” clinical trial that is testing whether a drug can prevent the disease by washing the plaque out. Once a month, he drives from the ranch to Tampa and the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of South Florida. It’s one of six sites in the state participating in what’s called the A4 trial.
Florida Insurers Compete With 'Cost-Share' Plans
As a key deadline for the third season of open enrollment nears on Dec. 15, health insurance companies in Florida are stepping up their marketing efforts to enroll consumers who are eligible for health plans that are heavily subsidized by the federal government.
What Happens When Marriage Makes Health Insurance Unaffordable
Under the Affordable Care Act, if one person in a family has a job that offers health insurance to the rest of the family then nobody can get subsidies on the federally run exchanges. Almost everyone who buys health insurance through those exchanges gets tax breaks to make it more affordable based on their income. Nobody’s counting exactly how many people are going without insurance because they’re in this family glitch, but a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 400,000 Floridians went without health coverage—even when they could have gotten it through work.
Insurers ‘Recalibrate’ As Enrollment Increases
The third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is now under way, and this week on Florida Matters (Sunday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.), WUSF's Carson Cooper takes a look at some of the changes coming for health insurance in 2016 with Florida Covering Kids & Families Project Director Jodi Ray, Tampa health insurance agent Eric Brown and WUSF News Director and Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden.
Trying, Failing On HealthCare.gov
For much of this year, Sara Goodrich of Lakeland has gone without health insurance -- despite trying over and over again to complete enrollment on HealthCare.gov
Seniors Staying On Job For Health Insurance
Not every American 65 and older is worrying about Medicare's open enrollment period, now underway. Some who are eligible for the government insurance plan are staying on the job, and gaining access to employer-based plans they say are a better option.
Museum Calls Psychiatry "Industry Of Death"
Videos accusing psychiatrists and the drug industry of inventing diseases and defrauding the public are the centerpiece of a modest storefront museum that quietly opened this summer in downtown Clearwater. They suggest that many drugs prescribed for anxiety, depression and other mental-health conditions are responsible for mass shootings and other violence.
Heroin Straining Those Who Protect, Treat
Heroin overdoses are rising most everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Manatee County. As Lottie Watts with Health News Florida reports the problem is really taking a toll on law enforcement and is straining the county's only in-patient drug detox center.
Attacking HIV In The Urban Core
In Orlando, urban renewal is playing out in the historically African American Parramore neighborhood where a new Major League Soccer stadium will split the neighborhood. HIV educators worry how that change will affect the already at-risk community.
Time-Consuming Trip To And From New VA Hospital
Floridians depend on cars to get just about anywhere. And getting to the doctor without one can be tough. Orlando resident David Williams knows this reality well, especially since the brand new Orlando VA Medical Center moved from the downtown core to the suburbs.
Preparing For Storms When You Have Medical Needs
For people with special medical needs, getting ready for a hurricane is a lot more complicated. Extra preparations for people who are managing chronic medical conditions may include getting early prescription refills, figuring out how to keep a ventilator on or keeping certain medications cold.
Some Florida Beaches More Prone To Bacteria
Florida receives more federal funding than any other state to monitor water quality at its beaches. County health departments have been testing beach water quality since 2000 -- and when bacteria levels get too high -- public advisories are issued. Lottie Watts with Health News Florida reports that water quality isn't always the first thing on the minds of beach-goers.
Budget Veto Forces Free Clinics To Adjust
The St. Petersburg Free Clinic is one of 87 programs participating in the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. Last year, when the group received $4.5 million from the state budget, the clinics served 125,000 uninsured Floridians. The state money bought new equipment, expanded services and allowed some of the clinics to hire additional staff. This year, clinic leaders said they expected double that amount.
Star Ratings Fight Call-Button Blues
n April’s release of federal patient-opinion surveys of hospitals, Viera joined Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf in Port St. Joe, and Mariners Hospital in Tavernier as just four of 165 Florida hospitals in the state earning the highest rating possible -- five stars. Meanwhile, Wuesthoff in Rockledge was at the bottom of the list, one of 11 Florida hospitals accorded just one star. An updated star-rating report came out in late July. In that report, six Florida hospitals earned five-star ratings, and 18 received just one star.
Millennials Shaping Future Health Economy
Baby boomers dominate the nation’s population. But analysts watching the health care economy say it’s the youngest health care consumers who are shaping the future health care economy.
How Tax Subsidies Ruling Impacts FL
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all states may offer subsidies to help folks purchase health plans under the Affordable Care Act. That includes Florida -- which opted not to create a state exchange! Lottie Watts with Health News Florida caught up with Jay Wolfson of USF Health, who's been keeping a close eye on how all this is playing out.
Living With HIV a Rollercoaster
Will Blair can describe his family in three words: southern, conservative, Baptist. “I’m kind of the black sheep,” he said. Blair was 17 and living in rural Lake County when he came out as gay to the grandparents raising him. Last year, at 32, he had to come out a second time: as HIV positive .Blair’s diagnosis came just as Florida had overtaken California as the state with the most new HIV infections – a total of 5,377 new cases. Nearly half were among men who have sex with men, the Florida Department of Health says.
Black Straight Men Ignored in HIV Prevention
Forty-one percent of new infections in Florida are in the black community, according to the Florida Department of Health’s data on new HIV diagnoses in 2013. And many of those getting infected are straight black men, a group observers and HIV specialists say are not being included in HIV prevention efforts.
Transgender Women Vulnerable to HIV
Florida’s transgender community, specifically trans women, are among the groups most at risk of contracting HIV. It’s estimated that a third of transgender women are HIV positive, according to limited studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More HIV Education Could Dispel Myths
WUSF’s Florida Matters is sharing stories from the Health New Florida series HIV in Florida: The Rising Tide of Infection. University of South Florida physician Diane Straub is medical director at the Ybor Youth Clinic, which serves at-risk youth in the Tampa area. She told Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden about how young people infected now with HIV are facing different challenges and a different reality than Floridians infected decades ago.
Prom Queen, 18, and HIV Positive
Kourtnee Armanii Davinnie was crowned this year’s prom queen. She’s scared of horses, but loves unicorns. And she sometimes snaps when she talks. Davinnie holds up a selfie taken in one of her multiple prom dresses. “I had a couple outfit changes,” Davinnie said. “My performance outift, my walk-around, my entrance outfit, I have to be on point for prom. That’s just one of those things for a showgirl.” On her wrist, a black wristband says “SPEAK OUT.” It’s part of a campaign to get people talking about HIV. “I’ve been positive since September, 2014,” she said.
Sex Doesn’t Get Safer With Age
If you're talking about older people and sex, you have to talk to Kate GeMeiner. "I'm also known as Doctor Truth, the Condom Lady," the 85-year-old says. GeMeiner lives in Broward County, and spends a lot of her time at senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities."And I ask the seniors: How old do you think you are when you stop thinking about sex? And they all say, when you're dead,” she says with a laugh. “Or they'll say things like when the casket is closed or something like that." Her joke’s not far from the truth. A 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study on sex and seniors found more than half of people ages 64 to 75 reported having sex in the previous year.There’s a consequence for that sexual activity. Older people, like anyone who's having unprotected sex, are at risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, and HIV. In 2013, when Florida led the nation in the number of new HIV cases, nearly a quarter of those diagnosed were age 50 and older.
Florida Faces A Rising Tide Of HIV Infection
Everyone thinks HIV happens to someone else. It only infects men who are having sex with men, they say. Or HIV drug users. And while that still accounts for about half of all people infected, those who are being diagnosed with this serious sexually transmitted disease don’t fall into simple categories. They’re young and old, straight, gay and transgender, of every race. A total of 5,377 Floridians were diagnosed with HIV in 2013, according to the Florida Department of Health. That number is higher than anywhere else in the nation. Here’s some perspective. When it comes to the presence of HIV in Florida, the state’s six largest metropolitan areas could be states unto themselves.
Entrepreneurs Pitch Mobile Apps Geared To Seniors
Mary Theresa Anderson is sitting in the back of a Miami Beach Convention Center ballroom, listening as entrepreneurs pitch health apps geared toward her and other retirees. The former trauma nurse from Maryland follows along as venture capitalists drill aspiring businessmen and women about products offering brain exercises, real-time health monitoring, even online vitamin delivery. From FitBits to smartphone calorie counters, mobile health apps are one the fastest-growing parts of today’s booming health care industry.
Punishment for Fatal Error a Tough Call
Ever since a Florida surgeon cut off the wrong leg by accident 20 years ago, the health-care industry has been scrambling to prevent such errors in the operating room. But tragic mistakes still happen.
Debt, Not Dreams Deciding Dentists' Future
Florida is lacking dentists in rural, low-income areas, but graduating dental students are not flocking to this little towns to set up practices. The reason? It's hard to make money and students often graduate with large loans looming over their shoulders.
House Packet on Medicaid Called Misleading
Last week, Florida's Legislature came to a screeching halt over health care. The dispute is keeping the House and Senate from agreeing on a state budget...the one job the Legislature must do each year. Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden recently spoke with special correspondent Carol Gentry. She recently wrote an analysis looking at why many House members oppose their colleagues in the senate, and how their position may not change before a special session convenes in Tallahassee next month.
Traditional Medicine Surviving in a Western World
It's been 40 years since the fall of Saigon. Many migrants who fled came to Central Florida, and one custom that came with the Vietnamese is traditional medicine. But some fear this ancient practice is fading.
What It's Like To Be In The Health Coverage Gap In Florida
The Affordable Care Act was originally supposed to cover a lot more people in Florida than it has. When Florida chose not to expand Medicaid, about 850,000 people were left without insurance. Miami resident Cynthia Louis is one of the thousands in this health care limbo called the “coverage gap,” where they don’t get Medicaid and they don't qualify for subsidies to afford insurance.
State Worker Health Premiums May Change
Since 2005, monthly health insurance premiums for state workers in Florida have stayed the same. But a bill making its way through the Florida House could make big changes to the state group employee health plan, which covers more than 300,000 state employees and their families.
Surfing and Cancer: The Story of One Patient
In the coming weeks, public television stations across Florida will air a new documentary by Ken Burns. "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies" aims to tell the complete story of cancer, from the first accounts from ancient Egypt to modern research facilities, and the stories of patients. On Saturday, March 28, WUSF News and Health News Florida will present a screening of the documentary, and a Florida Matters panel discussion on the past, present and future of cancer. The event is free, and you can register online here. One of the panelists is Joshua Rivera, who was 27 when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s soft-cell sarcoma. He has been cancer-free for more than five years.
Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid
When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.
Music Soothes As Alzheimer's Cure Sought
Dozens of studies have shown that music therapy can be effective in treating some of the effects of Alzheimer's disease. It's a form of therapy offered by many Alzheimer's care centers to the nearly half a million Floridians with the disease. But it's not a cure.

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