Sarah Pusateri

Former Health News Florida reporter

Sarah Pusateri is a former multimedia health policy reporter for Health News Florida, a project of WUSF. The Buffalo New York native most recently worked as a health reporter for, a two year grant-funded project at WUSF. There, she co-produced an Emmy Award winning documentary called Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military.

Pusateri got her start in television at TV 20 News in Ocala as a  bureau reporter. Her next move was to Fort Myers as video journalist at WINK News covering crime. While she sometimes misses the fast pace of television news, being a multimedia journalist allows her to focus more on her favorite aspect of journalism--storytelling.



Health News Florida
4:41 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Dogs Help Hospitals Fight Bed Bugs (VIDEO)

Bill Whitstine is in the business of training dogs to detect bed bugs. Business is good, he said, and some of his customers are health-care facilities.

"Bed bugs over the last ten years, it's become an epidemic in many states and here in Florida as well," Whitstine said. "And the fastest and easiest way of detecting them is with a drug dog or a bomb dog."

Read more
Health News Florida
12:00 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

950 FL Pharmacies Called High-Risk Compounders

Pharmacist Michelle Alfonso demonstrates proper sterile technique.
Credit Sarah Pusateri / WUSF

Almost 950 Florida-licensed pharmacies engage in “sterile compounding,” the type of high-risk drug-making that led to a deadly fungal meningitis epidemic last year, according to a Department of Health survey released last week.

Sterile compounders are now given priority for state inspections, but it’s going to be a daunting task to check them all, judging from the survey report and interviews with pharmacists and health department officials. There are  two reasons:

Read more
Health News Florida
6:00 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Shortage of Nurses May Have Contributed to Patients' Deaths

Town and Country Hospital, Tampa

State health officials are on the scene at Town and Country Hospital this afternoon. The Tampa medical center has been barred from admitting any new patients into its surgical unit, pending an investigation into the death of three patients last month.

Lutz resident Jean Miller was shocked to find out about the emergency moratorium put on Town and Country hospital. She's been admitted three times.

"I had gallbladder surgery there and I had no problems," she said. "I would always go back there."

Read more
health news florida
8:07 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Florida Health Officials Scramble to Find Other Drugs From NECC

Contaminated steroid injections for back pain may not be the sole source of infection sent out from New England Compounding Center, health officials say.

While the Florida Department of Health says it has notified 99 percent of all the patients in Florida who received the back injections, they now are concerned about products produced by the NECC.

"The processes that led to the contamination of steroids may have led to the contamination of other NECC medications," Armstrong said.

"The FDA has urged all patients, who since May 21 2012, have received any NECC injectable medications that they be notified of the possibility of infection."

Read more
health news florida
5:40 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

3 Reasons Why Seniors Pay Too Much For Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

It's time to choose a drug plan.

Is there such thing as being too careful when it comes to buying health insurance? According to a recent study, seniors on average spend $368 more than they need to on their Medicare prescription drug plans.

According to the Health Affairs study, there are a few reasons for this.

1.) So many choices.

There are 1,736 prescription-drug plans available to Medicare beneficiaries under the Medicare's Part D benefit. That's about 50 plans per region; Florida has 35.

Read more
health news florida
3:23 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Florida Health Officials Confirm Two More Cases of Fungal Meningitis

The DOH has confirmed two more cases of fungal meningitis in Florida.

The Department of Health announced that the cases of fungal meningitis in Florida have risen to nine. A 52- year old woman and a 79- year old woman are being treated after getting steroid shots in the back at the Marion County Pain Management Center.

Nationwide 170 cases have been reported. Health Department Officials say all cases are a result of contaminated steroids from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.

There have been two deaths in Florida and 14 nationwide. An 83-year- old Marion County man died as a result of the contaminated back pain injection he received at the Marion Pain Management Center in Ocala. The first death was an unidentified 70-year-old man who had been treated at the Florida Pain Clinic in Ocala in July.

Read more
health news florida
3:22 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Florida Seniors Vote on Five Medicare Solutions at AARP Forum

In 2024, the trust fund that pays for Medicare is expected to be depleted. What should be done about the future of Medicare?

That's the issue Tampa senior citizens got a chance to tackle at the AARP's "You've Earned a Say" initiative forum at the Poynter Institute.

The audience voted on five questions with a hand held clicker.

1.) Should the qualifying age for Medicare be raised from 65 to 67?

No: 56 percent. Yes: 35 percent. Neither: 10 percent.

Read more
health news florida
10:38 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Florida Health Officials Confirm Second Death from Fungal Meningitis

There have been two confirmed deaths from Fungal Meningitis in Florida.

The Department of Health announced Thursday afternoon that an 83-year- old Marion County man died as a result of the contaminated back pain injection he received at the Marion Pain Management Center in Ocala.

His death marks the second in Florida and the 14th nationwide. The first death was an unidentified 70-year-old man who had been treated at the Florida Pain Clinic in Ocala in July.

“Across the country, we are seeing the number of cases increase, so it is not unexpected that Florida’s cases will rise,” said Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong.

Read more
Health News Florida
2:39 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

USF Health Launches Matching Service for Clinical Trials

USF Health is offering a new clinical matching service.

After suffering from cardiomyopathy for more than three decades, 70- year old David Skand of Tampa found himself in a tough position--his heart had given out.

"My back was pretty much up against the wall," he said.

Skand's doctors at USF Health told him there might be a better option than surgery.

They recommended he join a clinical trial testing Neucardin, a genetically-engineered drug designed to treat chronic heart failure like his.

USF Health is one of 10 sites in the country for this study. Skand signed up.

"I really thought this would be a good opportunity to try something--and see if it would work out," said Skand,  a veterinarian who tests racehorses for drugs.

Doctors told Skand he could continue to take his normal heart medication while participating in the trial.

Read more
health news florida
1:06 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Medicare Patients Can Find Drug-Plan Bargains - If They Shop

A survey commissioned by Medicare Today, a consortium of non-profit medical and consumer groups, found that nine out of 10 plan members are happy with what they have.

Medicare open enrollment season is around the corner, and lots of bargain plans are available to beneficiaries who shop around. But will they?

Two-thirds of drug-plan enrollees say they won't bother, according to a survey released Wednesday by Medicare Today, a consortium of consumer and professional health groups. They see no reason to -- 90 percent report that they're satisfied with their plan.

But even if they're not satisfied, seniors often don't tackle the job of comparison-shopping. Experts call this "the lock-in effect," and it can keep beneficiaries from taking the pills they've been prescribed.

Read more
health news florida
12:01 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

WATCH: Youth Caregivers Fight To Finish School

Seventeen-year-old Jimmy Braat has three passions in life: playing music, photography, and being a caregiver to his grandma.

"It's all I'm good at!" he laughs. He started taking care of his great grandmother at age 9.

"My mom was always at work so it was kind of my role I guess," Jimmy says," She passed away at 92 when I was 13. So now, I take care of my grandmother."

Jimmy is three years behind in school and now participates in an online school program called hospital homebound. 

While he loves his grandmother and says he wouldn't trade her for the world, he admits his education has suffered as a result of his caregiving.

"I suffer from severe depression and bi-polar disorder--anxiety because there's a lot of stress, if you really care about the person you are taking care of, you're going to be thinking are they okay, are they ok?"

Read more
Health News Florida
12:48 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

WATCH: Dropout Nation, Kids as Caregivers

Rachel maintains her mother's traveling oxygen machine.

Twenty-two percent of high school dropouts say they left school to take care of a family member, according to a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

These youth caregivers often sacrifice their own futures because there's no one else to look after their sick parents and grandparents.

Rachel Parks was one of those students. Watch the video below to find out more about Rachel's family and her life in her own words.

Read more
Health News Florida
5:21 am
Thu September 20, 2012

A Mighty Warrior: Youth Caregivers Hold on to Hope

Why do students drop out of high school?

One surprising answer: more than one in five dropouts left school to take care of family members.

Rachel Parks dropped out of high school to take care of her mother when she was 17.

"Growing up, I watched my mom take care of her mom," Rachel says, "and that is where I think I got that."

Read more
11:18 am
Mon August 27, 2012

RNC: Sarah Palin Stripper Talks Politics

While the real Sarah Palin wasn't invited to speak at the Republican National Convention, someone who looks like her is speaking out in Tampa.

Adult entertainer, Lisa Ann, who starred in the 2008 film satirizing former republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, performed at Thee Dollhouse in Tampa.

During a press conference held at the club she discussed Palin, politics, and business with a room full of reporters.

4:29 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Tampa's $43 Million RNC Makeover

If you've been to Tampa lately, you may have noticed the new landscaping on Bayshore Boulevard or the brightly lit bridges over the Hillsborough River.

You have the Republican National Convention to thank.

Much of the estimated $43 million improvements to the city are being paid for by the city and by a $50 million federal grant. Other private funders have chipped in as well.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much is being spent because many of the projects expedited by the RNC were already on the drawing board. 

Also, others pitched in to cover costs. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have each spent $800,000 to upgrade their phone infrastructure in the convention center. Tampa Electric and TECO People's Gas are the founding sponsors of the "Lighting of the Bridges" project.

Here is a list of projects to be completed before the RNC from the city of Tampa.

Read more