LISTEN LIVE

BayCare

BayCare Health System is cutting back on non-emergency surgeries in its Pinellas County hospitals to ensure there is capacity for a growing number of severely-ill COVID-19 patients.

Cars lined up at drive-thru testing site at Tropicana Field.
St. Petersburg Police Department

As coronavirus cases in Florida have surged, so has the demand for testing and Tampa Bay area health officials are struggling to keep up.


covid-19 testing supplies
iStock

BayCare Health Plans is waiving all out-of-pocket costs for the 8,000 people who are covered through its Medicare Advantage plans.

STEPHANIE COLOMBINI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

BayCare Health System is consolidating its drive-through COVID-19 testing sites to one high-volume location per county effective Monday.

Health workers in protective gear collect swabs from patients who drove up to the testing site.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

After opening up drive thru testing for COVID-19 Wednesday at locations across the Bay Area, BayCare is narrowing requirements for testing starting Saturday.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in St. Petersburg
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As Florida ramps up its efforts to screen for coronavirus, it's starting to open drive-thru testing sites across the state. But there's still challenges with supplies and testing availability.


Jane Castor and public health officals at a public press conference
City of Tampa

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is urging residents to follow simple precautions to prevent from getting COVID-19 because of how quickly it can spread.

The mayor held a press conference Thursday morning with health care representatives to address how they’re preparing for the disease and how people can protect themselves.

 

“We know that the emphasis on this particular virus is the ease with which it is spread,” said Castor. “That is our concern.”

One of the largest hospital systems in the Tampa Bay area is expanding its reach with the purchase of a Polk County hospital.

The dirt road and lush tree canopy leading to the Catholic Charities medical clinic is in stark contrast to the bright lights surrounding the nearest hospital.

Here, sirens would be drowned out by choruses of crickets and katydids.

But this refurbished double-wide trailer off a rural highway in Dover is a medical refuge for some agricultural workers and their families.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

UPDATED 7/8 with University Beat audio report and additional quotes.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over half of American girls ages 13 to 17 have received at least one dose of the vaccination to protect against the human papillomavirus (HPV) - and it's a rate that decreases over the needed second and third doses.

But here in Florida, the number of fully protected young women - those who have received all three doses - is only 25 percent, the lowest in the country.

Skip O'Rourke / Tampa Bay Times

How much charity care is enough for a hospital to earn its nonprofit, tax-exempt status? Apparently there is no rule about that, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

The IRS requires nonprofit hospitals to provide, in detail, the “community benefits” they provide. But the IRS doesn’t have specific targets that nonprofits have to hit when it comes to providing uncompensated care.

The feud between one of the Tampa Bay region's biggest insurers and health care providers is over.

Late Friday, UnitedHealthcare and BayCare Health System announced they have reached a new, five-year agreement.

The two companies had fought over reimbursement rates. Their battle played out in a series of advertisements in local newspapers.

In late November, the agreement between the two entities ended, leaving thousands of customers wondering if they'd have to switch doctors or go to a different hospital.

One of the nation's largest health insurers has been shown the door by BayCare Health System, Tampa Bay's dominant non-profit hospital chain.

The dispute over money affects 400,000 United customers in employer, Medicare and Medicaid plans,  said Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo, spokeswoman for the Florida division of the Minnesota-based insurer.

Medicare members are in open enrollment until Dec. 7, so those who want to switch to a different health  plan still have time to do so.  BayCare, in letters and newspaper ads, has been inviting them to make the switch.

Meanwhile, United has taken the unusual step of making some of the contract numbers public to back up its argument that BayCare is being greedy. For its part, BayCare says United owes millions in unpaid bills.

Customers are left in the middle.