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9:02 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Watching Health News, for You

For years, Health News Florida has been sharing the state’s top health news with you, via our daily eAlert. We wake up early every day, keeping tabs on the latest developments on stories from Miami to Marianna, and Tallahassee to Tampa.

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Opinion
8:41 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Your Weekly Dose of Health Humor

Your Dose of Health Humor comes to you every Friday. 

HNF Stories
10:37 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Suspended Medicare HMOs Still Listed

Many Florida shoppers at Medicare.gov will find Day Break and Sunrise among their lowest-priced HMO options. But if they call to enroll in either one, they’re out of luck.

Florida Healthcare Plus, a small Coral Gables company that sponsors the two Medicare Advantage plans, is under state and federal suspension, unable to sign up new members during the current open-enrollment season for Medicare, Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Being frozen at this time of year can be a death sentence for such plans.

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HNF Stories
9:07 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Health Director Tackles Ebola Facts, Fiction

Credit Megan Milanese

Hillsborough County's Health Department director is going of the offensive to combat fears about Ebola.

Douglas Holt said that concerns have grown since two health care workers in Texas tested positive for the disease after treating a man who died from it. 

But the real threats to U.S. safety in regard to Ebola are fear and panic, he said. The key to controlling the outbreak is early identification, isolation, and identification.

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HNF Stories
9:54 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Public Doubts Hospitals Can Handle Ebola

Most Americans have some confidence that the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from spreading in this country, but they're not so sure their local hospital can safely handle a patient, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

Amid worry here, most Americans say the U.S. also should be doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. Health authorities have been clear: Until that epidemic ends, travelers could unknowingly carry the virus anywhere.

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Health News Florida
9:50 am
Thu October 23, 2014

FL Researchers Taking On Ebola

Florida scientists are being tapped in the race to find a vaccine for Ebola.

The Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida will be a subcontractor in a $10 million National Institutes of Health contract to enhance immune responses to viruses such as Ebola and HIV, the Port St. Lucie non-profit research institute announced in a press release.

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Health News Florida
9:38 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Claim: Mostly False

Charlie Crist has been hitting current Gov. Rick Scott hard on his inability to expand Medicaid throughout the election season. During Tuesday's debate, Scott fired back at Crist, asking him why he didn't expand Medicaid in 2010, his final year as governor and the year the Affordable Care Act passed.

HNF Stories
9:29 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Slain Kids Told DCF They Feared Mom

In the months before a Volusia County man shot his three children, his wife's drinking seemed to be tearing the family apart.

According to documents released Tuesday by state child welfare officials, Cynthia Mohney was stumbling drunk at times, repeatedly slapped the children and they were increasingly afraid of her.

It was her disturbing behavior that brought child protective investigators to the home in June and recommended she seek substance abuse treatment. Two of the children even told investigators they felt safer with their father.

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HNF Stories
9:27 am
Thu October 23, 2014

FL Hospitals Battling Infections

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  While Ebola stokes public anxiety, more than one in six hospitals — including some top medical centers — are having trouble stamping out less exotic but sometimes deadly infections, federal records show.

Nationally, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection, and 75,000 people die each year from them—more than from car crashes and gun shots combined. A Kaiser Health News analysis found 695 hospitals with higher than expected rates for at least one of the six types of infections tracked by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Depression An Evolutionary Process

USF psychology professor, Jonathan Rottenberg, will participate in the 22nd Annual Festival of Reading with his book about depression.
Basic Books Publishing Company

Psychology Professor Jonathan Rottenberg wants to change the way people think about depression, a condition the World Health Organization estimates affects 350 million people around the world.  The University of South Florida professor uses mood science research to challenge the current model of depression -- that it is a chemical imbalance. This approach doesn't explain why antidepressants don't work any more effectively than when they were first introduced, he said.   Instead, his theory, featured in 

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Health News Florida
9:48 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Crist, Scott Hit on Health In Final Debate

In their final debate before the upcoming election for governor, challenger Charlie Crist focused in on Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal to back Medicaid expansion, the News Service of Florida reports. He said the refusal caused Florida to miss out on thousands of jobs. Crist also made reference to Scott’s stint as CEO of  hospital chain Columbia/HCA, previously rocked by a Medicare fraud scandal. As the News Service reports, Crist said Scott achieved his fortune in an “unsavory” way. 

HNF Stories
9:43 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Poynter to Host African Journalists After USF Cancels

Credit The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg will host a group of African journalists after their original hosts, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Department of Journalism and Media Studies, canceled over concerns of the spread of the Ebola virus. 

The visit is part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which brings 100 international journalists to the United States each year. 

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Health News Florida
9:35 am
Wed October 22, 2014

DCF Wanted Boss Fired Before Bell Massacre

Administrators with the Florida Department of Children and Families had recommended that a child protection program administrator be fired after involvement in a 2013 case where a 2-year-old was killed by his mother’s boyfriend.

9:26 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Hearings Set to Resolve Hospitals, AHCA Dispute

Lead in text: 
A statewide coalition of hospitals is challenging the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration over payments for emergency care for undocumented immigrants through the Medicaid program, the News Service of Florida reports. The legal challenge filed last week contends AHCA is out of bounds in its limit on when payments for treatment should end, the News Service reports. Hearings are scheduled for Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A coalition of hospitals from across the state has launched a legal challenge against the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in a long-running dispute about payments for emergency care provided to undocumented immigrants. The challenge, filed last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, involves the extent of emergency care that should be covered for undocumented immigrants through the Medicaid program.
HNF Stories
9:00 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Rubio Proposes Ebola Visa Ban

Credit AP

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, will propose legislation to temporarily ban visas into America for people coming from African nations known to have Ebola.

Under the Florida senator’s plan, citizens of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia could not obtain a visa to come to the United States until those countries get the virus under control.

Rubio pointed to recent success in Nigeria, which has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization.

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HNF Stories
7:20 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Health Issues Big in Only Attorney General Debate

In the one and only debate among the candidates for Florida Attorney General, health issues came up again and again. Highlights featured in WUSF’s weekly public affairs show Florida Matters include discussions of medical marijuana, pill mills and the so-called “stand-your-ground” law.  

Health News Florida
9:35 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Doc Accused of Groping Loses License

A South Daytona doctor accused of groping two female patients will avoid a trial by giving up his medical license for life, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Dr. Indravadan Shah agreed to give up his license as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the victims, prosecutors, police, and the Florida Department of Health.

Health News Florida
9:26 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Ebola Highlights Cuts to Public Health

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The current Ebola threat has called attention to cuts in public health programs essential for preventing such an emergency in the first place, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

Gov. Rick Scott has demanded federal aid to prepare for the disease, but has also overseen a 13 percent cut in staff at the Florida Department of Health since 2010, the Times reports.

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Health News Florida
9:22 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Carroll: Scott Runs State Like He Ran HCA

Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll
Credit State of Florida

Gov. Rick Scott’s leadership of the state is similar to the way he ran the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, former allies told the Miami Herald

Former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll says Scott has underlings “running the show,” and may deliberately remain in the dark on important issues so that he can “claim plausible deniability,” the Herald reports.  

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7:57 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Prisons Chief: Changes Will Take Time

Lead in text: 
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews says “it's unfair that the agency as a whole is painted under the same umbrella of all being corrupt and non-transparent,” the News Service of Florida reports. In a long interview on his leadership, Crews explains that it will take time to change a culture of fear and intimidation that’s led to the investigation of 100 suspicious inmate deaths, according to News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott tapped Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews two years ago to oversee an agency that is responsible for more than 100,000 prisoners and supervises nearly as many people in the community. Crews, who has a bachelor's degree in criminology from Florida State University, started his law-enforcement career 30 years ago as a correctional officer at Apalachee Correctional Institution.
Health News Florida
5:19 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

USF Cancels African Journalists Visit; Ebola Fears Blamed

African journalists from the 2010 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists pose along the USF St. Pete waterfront
Credit University of South Florida

Officials at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg have canceled a five-day visit by 14 African journalists that was to begin Oct. 31, because of fears of the Ebola virus.

In a letter today written by Han Reichgelt, regional vice president for academic affairs (see below), he says they're doing so out of an abundance of caution.

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Health News Florida
9:24 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Child Deaths Still Going Uncounted

According to a review of Florida Department of Children and Families documents by the Miami Herald, child deaths are being inaccurately counted. The problem, as reporter Carol Marbin Miller explains, is when the death of a child goes from “verified” -- resulting from neglect and abuse -- to “unverified.” As the Herald reports, cases where DCF had prior contact and documented abuse still aren’t being counted as a result of these switches and delays in investigations

Health News Florida
9:20 am
Mon October 20, 2014

35K in FL Lose Coverage over Documents

More than 35,000 Florida residents have lost the health insurance they enrolled in under the federal health law because they didn’t prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency status by Sept. 5, the Miami Herald reports. 

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HNF Stories
9:02 am
Mon October 20, 2014

CDC to Talk Ebola with Florida Hospitals

 Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a conference call today on Ebola preparedness and training with Florida hospitals.

Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday that the call scheduled Monday afternoon will provide guidance for proper use of personal protective equipment, safe handling of medical waste and effective clinical strategies within hospitals.

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HNF Stories
4:39 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

Questions Help Hospitals Guard from Ebola

All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg

Step inside All Children's Hospital and you're greeted with three things: hand sanitizer, tissues and masks decorated with little cartoon Band-Aids with legs, feet and smiles. "Dirt Squirt Alert!" a sign says. "Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick!"

A sign at the check-in counter calls on people to immediately tell the triage nurse if 

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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Laser Spine Institute Sued by Rival

A lawsuit filed against Tampa’s Laser Spine Institute alleges the center offered illegal incentives to entice patients to have surgery there, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, the owner of competitor Bonati Institute also accuses the spine-surgery competitor of interfering with business by using “secret shoppers.”   

HNF Stories
9:18 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Nurses Union Demands Better Ebola Training

Nurses gather in Tampa's Ybor City to demand proper training on how to deal with Ebola.
Credit Bay News 9

Nurses from National Nurses United gathered in Tampa's Ybor City on Wednesday to stage a "die-in."

It was a dramatic way to get the public's attention with the hope that hospitals would get the message that the time to prepare to fight Ebola is now.

Pasco County ICU nurse Louise Easty said she thinks some hospitals are making efforts to get up to speed, to where they need to be. 

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Health News Florida
9:06 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Governor Debate: Fan Debacle, Then Issues

After the drama over the fan subsided, the candidates for Florida governor discussed several serious issues, including child deaths and the Department of Children and Families, the so-called “stand-your-ground” law and the Affordable Care Act. As the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau reports, the issue of Medicaid expansion was brought up in a question about the state budget. Former Gov. Charlie Crist and current Gov.

HNF Stories
8:49 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Sickest Medicaid Kids in 'Chaos,' Doctors Say

Florida pediatricians who care for severely disabled children  say the state's overhaul of Medicaid has left  kids, parents and caregivers in turmoil.

Extremely fragile children, including some with tracheostomies and feeding tubes, face barriers in access to specialty care, physical therapy, home medical supplies and other urgent needs, the pediatricians say.

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HNF Stories
8:45 am
Thu October 16, 2014

FL to Spend Millions on Ebola Preparation

The nation's Ebola crisis has yet to reach Florida, but state officials want to spend millions to prepare for a possible outbreak.

This week, top health official asked for permission to redirect money from federal grants to buy full body suits for health care workers who may have contact with any potential victims of the virus.

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