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Health News Florida
9:10 am
Mon March 30, 2015

DCF Task Force to Focus on Sleeping Death Prevention

Credit Department of Children and Families

  The northeast regional office of the Florida Department of Children and Families has formed a child death prevention task force following the deaths of seven infants linked to unsafe sleeping practices, the Florida Times-Union reports.

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8:58 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Florida Health Officials Propose Medicaid Enrollment Change

  Florida health officials want to remove Medicaid's 30-day wait period so people can automatically enroll for health insurance once they're deemed eligible.

The proposed amendment would also get patients information more quickly about their plan options to encourage them to choose their own plan instead of being automatically enrolled in one.

Health officials will host two meetings to get the public's input on April 7 in Tampa and April 14 in Tallahassee.

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8:55 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Medical Examiner: 22-Day-Old Bartow Girl Starved to Death

Credit Polk County Sheriff's Office

  A baby who was found dead in her car seat in a Florida restaurant parking lot had lost more than one-third of her body weight in the 22 days since she was born, a medical examiner testified Friday.

Betsey Kee Stephens died as a result of malnutrition and starvation, said Dr. Vera Volnikh, Polk County’s assistant medical examiner.

“When we examined her stomach, small, intestine and large intestine, all of them were empty,” Volnikh said. “There was no fat tissue on this baby.”

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8:50 am
Mon March 30, 2015

In Tallahassee, There's a Low-Profile Push for Child Welfare

 

  In a state legislative session preoccupied with gambling, guns, booze and tax cuts, the Children's Movement of Florida is pushing a cause that gets little attention: health care and early education for children from poor families.

It may not draw high-powered lobbyists to the Capitol rotunda, but Vance Aloupis, director of the group, said it's about the future.

"Way too often these issues that are truly foundational to the future of our state are going unnoticed," he said. "Every year we drag our feet, a child gets a year older."

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1:48 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Marijuana Rule Hit with Two More Challenges

A Central Florida nursery and a trade association this week filed legal challenges to a state Department of Health proposal to carry out a new law allowing limited types of medical marijuana.

This comes as lawmakers have expressed impatience with the delays in carrying out the 2014 law allowing the types of medical marijuana. It spurred the Senate Regulated Industries Committee this week to approve a bill (SB 7066) aimed at jump-starting the process.

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8:40 am
Fri March 27, 2015

UCF Proposes New Medical Residencies

The University of Central Florida is proposing adding up to 700 medical residency slots.
Credit University of Central Florida

A decade from now, Florida is expected to be short 7,000 doctors.

The University of Central Florida is looking to tackle some of that.

Deborah German, dean of the UCF medical school, said Thursday the school wants to expand the training doctors get after getting a medical degree. The specialty residencies would focus on psychiatry, surgery and emergency medicine.

And it would offer the opportunity to get new federal money, German said.

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8:16 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Measles Patient Visited Kissimmee, Sarasota, South FL

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a measles case in Central Florida.

The measles was diagnosed in an international traveler who stayed at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee March 16 and March 17.

The unidentified traveler spent most of the time in Osceola County, but also visited Miami-Dade, Orange and Sarasota Counties while contagious.

The patient did not attend any theme parks, state health officials said, although there was no initial count of how many people may have been exposed. The traveler was treated in Miami and flew home.

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7:59 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Health Questions Slow Senate Tax Plan

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon
Credit Florida Senate

The Senate has lined up a series of tax cuts that could top the House's freshly announced $690 million package.

However, the Senate isn't rushing to move forward with its proposed cuts.

The holdup is that the state could face a $2 billion hit if no agreement is reached in ongoing negotiations between state and federal officials over funding for the Low Income Pool program, which helps pay hospitals for health care for low-income and uninsured patients.

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6:03 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Florida Deadliest State for Cyclists

This memorial 'ghost bike' in downtown Tampa remembers LeRoy "Roy" Collins Jr., a former two-star admiral killed while cycling in 2010.
Daylina Miller Health News Florida

Frank Gilbert has been nudged a few times while riding a bike to work. Nudged is his term for cars bumping into him.

If you close your eyes and think of someone riding a bike to work, you might picture spandex and neon helmets. Maybe jean shorts and a handlebar mustache.

But that is not what Gilbert looks like. Gilbert is middle-aged, wearing khaki pants, a blue blazer and tie while cruising in his recumbent bike four miles to downtown Orlando. The trip takes him through residential streets and across busy highways four days a week.

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2:50 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Fewer Dying Before 75 in Florida

Credit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Three Tampa Bay counties improved their health score in this year’s annual County Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Hillsborough County is the 28th healthiest county in Florida, up three places from 31 in 2014’s report. One reason, according to the report, is that fewer people are dying before they turn 75.

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9:09 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Orlando to Get $75M Senior Health Complex

Ken Robinson, (left), president of Dr. Phillips Charities, poses for a photo with Dr. Wayne Jenkins of Orlando Health after signing an agreement to build and operate a senior health complex.
Credit Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Dr. Phillips Charity announced today it will build a senior housing and health care complex in southwest Orlando.

Orlando Health will operate a physician practice on site, including primary care and specialists oncology, cardiology, orthopedics and geriatrics. Seniors can live in 180 assisted or independent living apartments. The entire complex is expected to cost $75 million dollars.

Ken Robinson, president of Dr. Phillips Charities, says the physician practice will open next year, and the senior housing will open in 2017.

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8:34 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Senators Want Outside Prison Oversight

Credit Florida Department of Corrections

Saying that they no longer have trust in Florida’s prison system, some legislators are pushing ahead with a sweeping proposal that would strip Gov. Rick Scott of complete control of the system while creating an independent commission that could investigate future allegations of corruption or problems.

The Florida Senate appears ready to approve the far-reaching bill, but so far Republicans in control of the House appear reluctant to go that far in shaking up the agency that has come under fire for suspicious inmate deaths and poor conditions.

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8:19 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Plan Boosts Child-Protection Reforms

Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie
Credit Florida House of Representatives

A House panel Tuesday approved a proposal aimed at tightening the sweeping reforms that lawmakers placed into Florida's child-welfare system last year.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (PCB FCSS 15-02) that would tweak the new law, which passed after a series of child deaths due to abuse and neglect.

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9:23 am
Tue March 24, 2015

DCF Worker On Trial for Sexual Battery

Jason Conrad Montgomery
Credit Polk County Sheriff's Office

A Polk County jury will begin to hear the case of a Department of Children and Families case worker accused of threatening to take a woman’s children unless she had sex with him, the Ledger of Lakeland reports. 

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Health News Florida
9:02 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Hospital Board Questions Pastor’s Ties

Halifax Health CEO Jeff Feasel
Credit Halifax Health

  A Volusia County pastor who recently spoke in support of the CEO of Halifax Health is one of two people hired at $60,000 a year to be a community outreach consultant, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

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Health News Florida
8:49 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Deaths Highlight Mental Health Needs

Jessica Lacey McCarty
Credit Brevard County Sheriff's Office

  Several recent, high-profile Florida murder cases have brought to light the need for increased mental health services.

Jessica Lacy McCarty, 33, was charged Saturday with the murder of her three young children in Palm Bay, the Orlando Sentinel reports. A Department of Children and Families investigation showed she had previously received mental health treatment from a community provider.

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Health News Florida
8:45 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Hospital Ends Bid for New Trauma Center

Credit Monroe Regional Medical Center's Twitter Account: @MunroeRegional

  Munroe Regional Medical Center has notified Florida hospital officials it is ending its effort to build a trauma center, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.  Munroe Regional’s president and CEO Bob Moore said the hospital’s application likely wouldn’t have been approved, as Ocala Regional Medical Center has a Level II trauma center located right across the street.

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8:33 am
Tue March 24, 2015

5 Years of Obamacare and FL Leads Enrollment

The Affordable Care Act turns five this week, and Florida leads the nation in the number of consumers buying health insurance.

While about 1.6 million residents already have signed up for coverage, the number signing up for Obamacare could grow even more, thanks to income tax season.

Floridians who didn’t buy health insurance off the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace for this year are getting a second change buy coverage. Kind of.

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8:23 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Transgender Youth Affected By Bathroom Bill

Transgender teen Jazz was the inspiration for a children's book. Florida's single sex bathroom bill, decried by the transgender community, would also affect schools.

Megan cracks open the book, and begins reading to her daughter.

“I am Jazz,” she starts. “For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been pink.”

That’s Megan, an Orlando mother reading a children’s book to her 5-year-old. We’re not giving Megan’s last name or the name of her daughter to protect the child’s identity.

Her daughter wears a green shirt with shiny rhinestones, a grey skirt and ballerina slippers.

She’s a little shy around the reporter until Jazz, in the book, says she’s not like her friends. Jazz has a girl brain and a boy body.

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7:55 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Senate Health Panel OKs Consumer Bills

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville
Credit WLRN

Bills aimed at helping patients save money on contact lenses and confront fewer hurdles in access to drugs passed the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee on Monday. The panel also passed a bill to crack down on rogue clinics that escape state oversight by taking only cash.

Here are details:

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Health News Florida
8:26 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Hospital Workers Charged With Copying Records

Credit Barry Gutierrez, NPR

Two employees of the Florida Hospital chain accused of copying 9,000 patient records outside of their normal job duties have been fired, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Law enforcement officials notified the hospital in May 2014, after discovering the records during a separate investigation, but patients were not notified until last week, according to the Sentinel.

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8:22 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Homeless Pose as Patients, 4 Charged

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Four people are being charged with Medicaid fraud for allegedly recruiting homeless people to pose as patients.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the arrests on Friday.

Bondi's office alleged that the owner of an Orlando clinic and three of her associates would offer gas cards and temporary housing to homeless men and women who then posed as patients.

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Health News Florida
8:16 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Hospice License Expires, Threatened With Shutdown

  A Lakeland hospice that didn’t renew its license in February will not have to shut down as the Agency for Health Care Administration had previously ordered, the Ledger of Lakeland reports.

ACHA lawyers had threatened fines and closure of Compassionate Care Hospice of Central Florida Inc., but backed off its demands at an emergency hearing Wednesday, according to the Ledger.

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6:23 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Health Plan for Legal Immigrant Kids Stalled

A bill that would extend low-cost KidCare health insurance to roughly 25,000 children of legal immigrants has gotten further in the Florida Senate than ever before, but remains stalled in the House.

The proposal (HB 829/SB 294) would eliminate a five-year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrants to qualify for KidCare, a subsidized insurance program that serves children from low- and moderate-income families.

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5:55 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Access-to-Drugs Bill Gains Steam

Mari Velar
Credit Facebook.com

Mari Velar, who has lupus and osteoporosis, has bones as fragile as butterfly wings. 

To keep them from breaking, she depends on an IV drip of a bone-strengthening fluid, which costs a lot more than pills. Whenever she has a new plan or new doctor, she has to switch to the cheaper therapy until she begins to itch.

“In order to appease the doctor, I have to try the drug and show them the hives and prove to them that I cannot take the drug,” says the 54-year-old Tampa woman.

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12:40 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

UCF Student’s “Iron Man” Arm Goes Viral

Alex Pring received his first 3D arm from University of Central Florida enrgineering students last summer.
University of Central Florida

A video that’s gone viral shows Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. giving a young Central Florida boy, Alex Pring, a bionic arm that looks like Iron Man’s. That arm was made by a non-profit group called Limbitless.

Its founder, Albert Manero, is a University of Central Florida engineering graduate student and a Fulbright Scholar working toward his PhD.

He spoke with 90.7’s Nicole Creston.

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11:36 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Music Therapy Licensing Being Considered

Miracle Millionor and her music therapist, Rich Moats, sing recentlty at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando.
Crystal Chavez Health News Florida

Miracle Millionor sits on her hospital bed, wearing a red, fuzzy beanie and shaking a big, blue-beaded maraca at Florida Hospital for Children. The 10-year-old’s music therapist, Rich Moats, sits on the bed across from her—guitar in hand.

It’s hard to tell Miracle has been suffering from severe migraines stemming from a brain hemorrhage. She’s been in the hospital for three weeks and has tried all sorts of things to deal with her pain, including yoga and pet therapy.

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7:14 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Adventist Health System Agrees To Pay $5.4M For Overbilling

 Florida Hospital’s parent company settled allegations Thursday that it over-billed the federal government. The alleged fraud took place from 2010 to 2013.

Adventist Health System agreed to pay $5.4 million to settle the allegations.

Adventist was accused of billing cancer treatments that weren’t directly supervised by an oncologist.

The overbilling happened at nine hospitals, mostly in Central Florida.

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3:46 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Lawmakers Mull Changes to State Worker Health Insurance

A proposal that would redesign the state group health insurance plan passed the Florida House Committee on Health and Human Services Thursday morning. 

The proposed redesign could affect the 360,000 current employees, retirees and their dependents that are covered by the program.

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3:03 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Health Expansion, LIP Program Divide Budget Proposals

In a move that creates a $5 billion divide with the House, the Senate released a budget proposal Thursday that banks on expanding health-care coverage for low-income Floridians and extending a critical funding program for hospitals.

The Senate proposal, approved by a key budget panel and touted by President Andy Gardiner, reinforces that health-care funding could be the most-vexing issue facing lawmakers during the rest of this year's legislative session.

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