Health News Florida

Since 2006, Health News Florida has provided in-depth journalism on health policy issues in our state.

Health News Florida is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at

Melane Byrd says it was 8-years ago that her mother Doris Sherer started showing the signs of Alzheimer's Disease.

"It sneaks up on you. Yes it sneaks up on you. I didn't realize what was happening," Sherer says.

Because of her impeccable dress and her gift for gab, the former university pageant queen fooled most people.

Byrd explains, "Of course Miss Auburn here has such great social skills, it's not apparent to everybody."

However, the 87- year old's illness was apparent to Byrd.

"She would forget things like, the most frightening thing was that mother was taking her medicine several times a day."

Tampa General Hospital President/CEO To Retire

May 29, 2012

 Ron Hytoff, 66, president and chief executive officer of Tampa General Hospital, today announced his retirement.

David A. Straz, Jr., chairman of the Florida Health Sciences Center, the governing body of the hospital, announced a nationwide search for a new CEO would begin immediately. He indicated internal candidates also would be considered.

Hospital officials say Hytoff will remain as president and CEO during the transition, but that he expected to step down by June 2013 at the latest.

Michael Rudi, 17, lay collapsed against the wall of his school's nurses office, unable to breathe. Deltona High school's nurse stood over him but refused to give him an inhaler, according to WKMG Channel 6 News.

That's because school officials said they had no record of Rudi's parent's signature on file.

"It's like something out of a horror film. The person just sits there and watches you die," Rudi said.

Yet another reason to eat healthy and exercise.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that by dropping a few pounds, a woman can greatly lower her chance of getting breast cancer.

The study found that  women who lost a moderate amount of weight through diet and exercise saw their estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer drop as well.

At least 30 students, staff and faculty members on the USF Tampa Campus were told by the Hillsborough County Health Department they could be at risk for contracting tuberculosis. That's after a student was recently treated for the disease. That student is no longer considered to be a health risk to others.

Tuberculosis usually affects a person's lungs but can affect other parts of the body causing serious illness. It's an airborne disease, spread through coughing and sneezing. 

A new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that between 1998 and 2008, the percentage of adolescents with pre-diabetes or diabetes increased from 9% to 23%. 

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are abnormally high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. 

Researchers took information from 3, 383 teens who participated in a government survey. They were interviewed and given a physical exam. One third of the participants were found to be overweight or obese. 



Laurie, a Tampa resident, says she always knew she wanted to join the military. When she was young she looked up to her uncle who was a drill sergeant in the army. After high school, she joined the air force.

"I was an air force mechanic. There aren't many women in that career field." 

In fact, Laurie says in her unit she was the only one. She enjoyed hanging out and playing cards with her fellow soldiers until one day something went terribly wrong.

An ambitious study designed to detect Alzheimer's Disease before symptoms even show is already facing it's first big obstacle- a lack of volunteer patients.

 It's the largest clinical study ever done on the disease. Nearly 500 patients would  undergo MRI scans, PET scans and spinal taps, CBS News reports, in hopes of developing the first test to find the disease before a potential patient even knows there is a problem.

A 44-year old nursing home employee, Fannie McGee, was arrested after Hillsborough County Deputies say she was seen smacking an 89-year old woman twice on the side of her face.

Deputies say the victim suffers from dementia and lives at Superior Residences Home in Brandon where McGee works.

McGee is facing felony charges of battery on the elderly.

In the wake of a Florida Center for Investigative Reporting/WUSF News investigation, the federal agency that monitors worker safety has revealed it is investigating the illness of a U.S. postal worker.

Former postal worker Jeffrey Lill  says he became sick after coming into contact with a mysterious package from Yemen at an Orlando distribution facility.

J.J. Barrow

One year ago, a postal worker in Orlando says he handled a suspicious package from Yemen -- and says it made him seriously ill. The Postal Service denies the incident ever took place.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley worked with WUSF's Steve Newborn to try to uncover what really happened.

When former cab driver Deodat Jhoda was shot in the spine during a 1993 attempted robbery, he thought his driving days were over.

“For four years I was not able to do a lot of the things for myself – my independence was more or less taken away from me," he said.

The injury left him unable to move his legs and with limited movement in his arms. He says he couldn't even leave his house because he didn't have a wheelchair ramp.

Fidelity Investments says couples sailing off into the sunset will be doing so with less cash in pocket.

It's part of a long trend of rising health care costs for retirees -- up 4 percent since last year.

"As long as health care cost trends exceed personal income growth and economic growth, health care will still be a growing burden for the country as a whole and for individuals," says Sunit Patel, a senior vice president for benefits consulting at Fidelity.

Boil Water Notice Lifted for Tampa Residents

May 7, 2012

The Tampa Water Department lifted a precautionary Boil Water Notice Monday for New Tampa residents after a water transmission main break Friday on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

Tampa residents north of Fowler Avenue and those who experienced a loss of water pressure were asked to boil water for drinking or cooking until the Tampa Water Department tested the water for bacteria.

The test results over the passed two days confirmed the water is safe to consume.

Moffitt Cancer Center

It’s time once again to lace up your running shoes, as Miles for Moffitt is coming up at USF on May 12th. This week’s University Beat on WUSF 89.7 has a preview of the event, which has raised over 800-thousand dollars for research at Moffitt Cancer Center.

The Associated Press is reporting that Terri Schiavo's family members have moved the foundation they started after her death from St. Petersburg to Philadelphia.

Her brother Bobby Schindler said in a news release Tuesday that the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network moved to Philadelphia because of its proximity to New York and Washington. Also, he said, the family had lived in that area before moving to Florida years ago.

Schindler said the charity hopes to establish a center there offering rehabilitation and therapy services to those with cognitive disabilities.

USF Health Communications

Less than two months after USF Health opened the doors on its Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), one of its creators is leaving to become Florida's Surgeon General. 

CAMLS chief medical officer Dr. John Armstrong has also been named Secretary of the Florida Department of Health. 

Courtesy of Wikipedia

More than two dozen cases of whooping cough have cropped up in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Health officials say an entire family came down with pertussis also known as whooping cough and individuals who came into contact with that family helped to spread it around.

USF Health

A day after Governor Scott signed a state budget that approved $6.9 million in funding for USF's new Health Heart Institute, the Hillsborough County Commission gave the okay to another $2 million.