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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 http://health.wusf.usf.edu

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to launch a new three-digit hotline for people who are feeling suicidal or are going through any other mental health crisis. It recommends making 988 the new national number to call for help, replacing the current 10-digit number.

The agency presented the idea to Congress in a report earlier this month and is expected to release more information and seek public comment about the proposal in the coming months.

Louis and Linda Foranoce
Sammy Mack / WLRN

When Dr. Bobby Zervos offers transplant patients the option to accept an organ with hepatitis C, he's prepared for some surprised reactions.

Purdue Pharma Agrees To Tentative Settlement In Opioid Case

Sep 11, 2019
pills on a pharmacy shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reached a tentative deal Wednesday with about half the states and thousands of local governments over its role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic, but criticism by several state attorneys general clouded prospects for an end to litigation against the company and the family that owns it.

Nearly half a million more children were uninsured in 2018 than in 2017, according to data out Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau. The drop stems primarily from a decline in the number of children covered by public programs such programs as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old sued the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice on Thursday, alleging their health and well-being were put in danger when the state placed them in solitary confinement.

all children's hospital
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Florida regulators are preparing to issue one of the largest fines against a hospital in recent memory.

The program offers family-planning services to low-income patients, including birth control, pregnancy counseling and cancer screenings.
Wikimedia Commons

Low-income patients in Hillsborough County are losing an option for receiving free family-planning care at the end of this month.  As of Sept. 30, Tampa Family Health Centers will no longer offer Title X services.

The alcohol Breathalyzer came to life slowly, over the course of decades.

It's still a mystery — what's causing the cluster of severe respiratory illnesses among people who've used e-cigarettes? The FDA says there have been at least 215 reported cases in 25 states.

Nearly three dozen of those cases are in New York state, and investigators there say they are now zeroing in on vitamin E as a possible culprit. Health officials say state lab tests detected high levels of vitamin E in cartridges of cannabis vaping products used by people who vaped and suffered serious lung damage.

As Hurricane Dorian threatened the Florida coast, top officials at HCA spent Labor Day weekend wringing their hands, pulling all-nighters in a Nashville command center.

A strawberry blonde hair woman helps a brunette woman sign up for health insurance on a laptop.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

A group that helps Floridians sign up for health insurance on the federal marketplace received a $1.3 million grant to continue their work.

A 14-year-old boy goes to the doctor with complaints of tiredness. He's an extremely picky eater. (Think a daily diet of French fries, plus snacking on Pringles potato chips, white bread and some processed pork.) But overall, he appears OK. He's not overweight and takes no medications.

Tests show he has anemia and low levels of vitamin B12, so he's given B12 injections and diet advice. But a year later, he has begun to lose his vision. Then, by age 17, he's legally blind.

A pharmacist looks at a shelving unit full of pill bottles.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis' emergency declaration has activated a Florida statue that requires insurance companies and pharmacies allow early prescription refills.

Two researchers stand in front of the glass panels shielding their lab.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

The first human clinical trial is underway at Moffitt Cancer Center with what researchers are calling a "cancer vaccine."

Health News Florida's Daylina Miller spoke with Patricia Lawman, the co-founder of Tampa-based Morphogenesis. The immunotherapy company developed the vaccine, which is injected into cancer patients to help their immune systems identify and destroy tumors. 

The Phase I clinical trial for the vaccine, called ImmuneFX, is being tested on patients with severe cutaneous melanoma.

Two researchers stand in front of the glass panels shielding their lab.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

The first human clinical trial is underway at Moffitt Cancer Center with what researchers are calling a "cancer vaccine."

Medical marijuana on a shelf in a dispensary.
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

A split appeals court on Tuesday refused to grant the state’s request to revisit a decision that could revolutionize the way medical marijuana operators do business in Florida.

iStock

Florida sent federal officials a detailed plan for how the state proposes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries on Friday.

Mysterious Vaping Lung Injuries May Have Flown Under Regulatory Radar

Aug 27, 2019

It was the arrival of the second man in his early 20s gasping for air that alarmed Dr. Dixie Harris. Young patients rarely get so sick, so fast, with a severe lung illness, and this was her second case in a matter of days. 

A dedication ceremony was held today in Tampa for a new mental health clinic that treats post-9/11 veterans and military families.
Cohen Veterans Network

A new mental health clinic opened in Tampa that provides free or low-cost care to post-9/11 veterans and military families.

When Temperatures Rise, So Do Health Problems

Aug 24, 2019

A little Shakespeare came to mind during a recent shift in the Boston emergency room where I work.

"Good Mercutio, let's retire," Romeo's cousin Benvolio says. "The day is hot, the Capulets abroad, and, if we meet, we shall not 'scape a brawl."

It was hot in Boston, too, and people were brawling. The steamy summer months always seem to bring more than their fair share of violence.

But the ER was full of more than just brawlers. Heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems — the heat appeared to make everything worse.

The Southwest Water Reclamation facility in st. petersburg
Julio Ochoa/WUSF

St. Petersburg again is facing problems over its ability to treat sewage during big storms.

Illinois health officials said Friday that a patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping has died, which could make it the first death in the United States linked to the smoking alternative that has become popular with teens and young adults.

Close up of a hand holding an e-ciggarette with amber liquid inside.
Lindsay Fox/Flikr

Florida is now one of 16 states where federal and state officials are investigating lung-related illnesses that have suspected ties to e-cigarette use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Broward County has the fastest-growing population of people over 85 in the country. One of the growing problems they face is social isolation, which can lead to depression, loneliness and safety issues for those living alone. 

A new command center at Tampa General Hospital is saving the hospital money and reducing the time patients spend at the facility.

Stethoscope and gavel.
wp paarz/Flikr

Several civil legal aid organizations in Florida have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the agencies that operate the state's Medicaid system.

Seven Puerto Rican health care workers say supervisors at a Florida government-run clinic warned them to stop speaking Spanish among themselves or they would get fired.

Why does e-cigarette maker Juul advertise its product on TV when cigarette ads are banned? The short answer: Because it can.

For nearly 50 years, cigarette advertising has been banned from TV and radio. But electronic cigarettes — those battery-operated devices that often resemble oversized USB flash drives with flavored nicotine "pods" that clip in on the end — aren't addressed in the law.

A banner that says Association of American Indian Physicians hangs behind a speaker podium at a Chicago conference.
Courtesy the Association of American Indian Physicians

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer some of the poorest health outcomes in the United States.

But 90% of U.S. medical schools have three or fewer native students.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study found among people with large employer coverage, an average of 22 percent of emergency room visits in Florida result in at least one out-of-network charge.
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Florida is one of nine states that have taken on unexpected health care bills by passing comprehensive regulations. 

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