Mary Shedden

Health News Florida Editor

Mary Shedden is editor of Health News Florida. Her assignment since arriving at WUSF in 2013: distill policy and science so it makes sense on a personal level.

In the past 20 years, she's told the stories of retired pro athletes in chronic pain, children poisoned by toxic toys, and seniors who nearly overdosed on prescription drugs. 

Her work at The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com, Florida Today and the Gainesville Sun have been honored by professional organizations including the Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Press Sports Editors, and the Florida Society of News Editors.

A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Mary has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1999.

Contact Mary at 813-974-8636 on Twitter @MaryShedden or by email

Pages

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.
HNF Stories
12:50 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Key to Pot Vote: Turnout, Not Political Party

AP

Need an example of how incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, are trying to attract every possible vote?

Ask them about medical marijuana. Neither candidate avoids the issue. But they do play it safe.

  “I’m going to vote against it. But it’s going to be on the ballot. All the citizens of the state have the right to vote whichever way they think,” Scott told Tampa’s Fox 13 News this past June.

And there’s Crist, no stranger to the well-rehearsed reply.

Read more
2:18 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Medical Malpractice Ruling Backs Doctors

Lead in text: 
A ruling on the ongoing challenge to Florida's medical malpractice law is a win for groups such as the Florida Medical Association, Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida reports. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Friday says changes made in 2013 to the "ex parte communications" portion of the law does not violate patient privacy, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A federal appeals court Friday upheld part of a controversial Florida medical-malpractice law, saying it does not violate requirements aimed at protecting patient privacy. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling last year by a Tallahassee federal judge.
8:35 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Hospital Lawsuit's Legal-Fee Issues Persist

Lead in text: 
A legislative decision to order Lee Memorial Health System to pay $15 million to a severely disabled boy's family continues to be challenged by the child's attorney, the News Service of Florida reports. Legislators in 2012 passed a bill revoking the Southwest Florida public hospital sovereign immunity in this case, but said attorney's couldn't receive more than $100,000. That issue will be debated on Oct. 28, before the 4th District Court of Appeals, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
An appeals court this month will weigh the constitutionality of a 2012 legislative decision that limited fees for attorneys who represented a severely disabled child in a lawsuit against a public hospital system.
HNF Stories
12:00 am
Wed October 8, 2014

PUP Owners Want $500M from Accountants

Dr. Sandeep Bajaj
Credit Florida Accountable Care Services

The majority owners of a now-defunct Medicare Advantage plan say they were duped by the plan’s accountants, the ones they claim are responsible for the company’s collapse, a new federal lawsuit filed in Orlando says.

Dr. Sandeep Bajaj and Dr. Rohini Bajaj claim the national accounting firm McGladrey LLP is responsible for the financial ruin and liquidation of Physicians United Plan Inc., which had served about 50,000 Floridians until the state took over its operations this summer.

Read more
8:12 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Elder Ombudsman Settles Lawsuit

Lead in text: 
The former ombudsman for Florida's long term care community has settled a lawsuit against the state's Department of Elder Affairs, the News Service of Florida reports. Brian Lee, a vocal advocate of resident's rights, had been on the job seven years when he was dismissed in 2011, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A "whistleblower" lawsuit by the state's former long-term care ombudsman was settled last week through mediation. Brian Lee, who held the ombudsman post for seven years before his February 2011 ouster, will receive $25,000, less payroll taxes and other deductions, from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, according to a copy of the settlement.
HNF Stories
9:33 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Halifax Whistleblower, Friends Were Shunned

When Elin Baklid-Kunz was concerned about the way her bosses at Halifax Health were doing business, she got help from a federal law designed to protect whistleblowers around since the Civil War.

"The False Claims Act seemed to be the only tool I had to report this to the government," said Baklid Kunz, a veteran compliance officer at the hospital who first filed the lawsuit in 2009.

Read more
HNF Stories
4:41 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Seniors Tackle Diabetes Before Diagnosis

Seven graduates of the St. Petersburg YMCA Diabetes Prevention program and their Instructor Lois Huyghue
Mary Shedden

It’s graduation day at the St. Petersburg YMCA, and Ruth Neal and her classmates are taking a victory lap.

The past 16 weeks, they've talked nonstop about counting fat grams, portion control and the value of being active 150 minutes a week.

“I’m going to stick with it, because I want to be as blessed as my mother was. One hundred and six years old when she passed. I want to be just as blessed,” the 71-year-old from St. Petersburg said of her newfound weight loss and exercise routine.

Read more
HNF Stories
4:59 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Tougher Compounding Rules Finally Law

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stricter regulations in the state’s compounding pharmacy industry take effect Wednesday -- two years after a national outbreak of fungal meningitis killed 64 people, including seven in Florida.

In 2012, when the New England Compounding Center outbreak happened, the state had hundreds of unregulated, non-resident facilities providing these specialized medications to Floridians. Now, the state will require permits for any pharmacies outside state boundaries that want to ship medications in state.

Read more
8:36 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Prison Health Provider Told It's Failing

Lead in text: 
The winner of a $1.2 billion contract to provide health care to Florida’s prison inmates is being accused of failing to treat patients properly, the News Service of Florida reports. The Department of Corrections says the Missouri-based company Corizon must fix 80 percent of the problems identified in recent audits, or payment will be withheld, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is threatening to stop payments to a Missouri-based company that won a five-year, $1.2 billion contract to provide health care to the majority of the state's prisoners, accusing Corizon of failing to provide adequate treatment.
HNF Stories
4:11 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Consumer Savvy Critical To Health

Dr. Lisa Schwartz and Dr. Steven Woloshin of the Dartmouth Institute Center for Medicine and the Media.
Credit Dartmouth College

Spend a lot of time investigating before make a big purchase? Most of us do.

But that's not always the case when it comes to medical treatments or drugs.

Dr. Steven Woloshin and Dr. Lisa Schwartz have been researching the misleading medical and pharmaceutical messages in advertisements and other media for years.

Read more
HNF Stories
1:06 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

HCA Closing St. Petersburg Hospital

For the first time since 2012, a hospital in Florida is closing its doors.

HCA West Florida announced Tuesday the 38-year-old Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg will close by the end of November and consolidate services to three nearby hospitals it also owns.

Officials said operating costs at the aging facility continued to grow. And it pointed to a glut of hospital beds in the area: more than 1,000 in southern Pinellas County alone.

Read more
8:26 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Dispute Over Severely Disabled in Foster Care

Lead in text: 
Florida’s revised foster care law is creating confusion over the care of severely disabled young adults in the system, the News Service of Florida reports. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice , hopes to draft a bill clarifying who should pay and provide services for disabled people, ages 18 to 22: either the Agency for Persons with Disabilities or the Department of Children and Families, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The sponsor of Florida's 2013 law extending foster care to age 21 is working on a legislative fix to resolve confusion about which state agency is responsible for severely disabled young adults in the program. Sen.
HNF Stories
6:44 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Millennials: Tech Not Only Health Solution

GuideWell is testing an interactive bathroom mirror, which provides regular health updates and reminders each morning.
Mary Shedden WUSF

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about the millennial generation: they’re disengaged and hyper-focused on technology.

But someday, these 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1999, will be needing health care. And a lot of it.

That's why the second MediFuture conference this week in Tampa asked a panel of college students for some insight. While the five men and one woman say they may not be using the health care system much now, it's important medicine doesn't assume that technology is all they care about.

Read more
HNF Stories
10:18 am
Thu September 18, 2014

CEO: GuideWell, Not FL Blue, Our Focus

GuideWell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pat Geraghty
Credit Kaiser Health News

Any doubt that Florida’s largest health insurer wants to expand its reach was quashed by its chief executive Wednesday, when he heralded the success of its new umbrella company and outlined ambitious plans for growth.

GuideWell, launched as a parent of Florida Blue, reaches more than 15 million people through its insurance, consumer, health care and government administration products, Chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty told participants at the Medifuture conference in Tampa.

Less than half are traditional Florida Blue policy holders.

Read more
8:25 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Charlotte’s Web Legal Challenges Grow

Lead in text: 
Attempts to provide a specialized form of medical marijuana in Florida continue to be slowed by legal challenges, the News Service of Florida reports. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association joins two nurseries in saying the Department of Health has improperly created rules to allow the strain called “Charlotte’s Web” to be grown and provided to patients in the Sunshine State, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A trade association Wednesday challenged the Florida Department of Health's plan for carrying out a new medical-marijuana law, adding to two challenges filed earlier in the week. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association is asking an administrative law judge to reject a department rule unveiled this month.
HNF Stories
1:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

‘Trailblazing’ Health Journalist Honored

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Lottie Watts

The Florida Nurses Association is recognizing Health News Florida founder and Editor Carol Gentry for her significant and ongoing role in reporting on the state’s most important health issues.

The 2014 Communications/Media Award is being awarded to Gentry, who for four decades has been reporting on health policy and business, and has been holding industry and government officials accountable.

Read more
9:25 am
Mon September 8, 2014

DOH Pot Rule Faces Likely Delay

Lead in text: 
The Florida Department of Health’s plan for the new “low-THC” medical marijuana industry is likely to be delayed as it deviates too much from what lawmakers intended, the News Service of Florida reports. The DOH’s Office of Compassionate Use was assigned to set up regulations for the industry and has held multiple public hearings. But, as the News Service reports, the proposed framework has been criticized by the Legislature's Joint Administrative Procedures Committee.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Health regulators will almost certainly delay a rule that will eventually create the framework for the state's new medical marijuana industry after an outcry from a legislative panel saying the proposed regulation went too far.
9:12 am
Mon September 8, 2014

'Night and Day' Difference at DCF

Lead in text: 
Child welfare advocates sense a “night and day” difference in the way the state will protect children at risk for abuse or neglect, the News Service of Florida reports. After a year of blistering criticism from the media and Legislature, the Department of Children and Families is increasing the number of child protection investigators and is implementing rapid response teams for child death cases. Legislators attending the DCF’s Child Protection Summit last week said they hope to make more tweaks to laws that helped institute changes, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
New money, a new leader and a sweeping new law had Florida's child-welfare professionals and foster parents feeling cautiously optimistic at their annual gathering this week. After nearly two years of turmoil, the 2,650 attendees at the Department of Children and Families' Child Protection Summit appeared ready to roll up their sleeves and get down to business.
8:55 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Proposed Pot Rules Questioned

Lead in text: 
The rules setting up Florida’s medical marijuana industry are being picked apart by a legislative panel, the News Service of Florida reports. The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee told Department of Health leaders that many of the rules it suggests violate the law approved by the Legislature this past spring, the News Service reports.
A legislative panel that plays a key role in overseeing state agencies has joined the chorus of critics seeking changes to a proposed soup-to-nuts rule setting up Florida's new medical-marijuana industry.
8:23 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Sheriff: Vote Really About Recreational Pot

Lead in text: 
Floridians who want to smoke pot for fun are using the upcoming medical marijuana vote as subterfuge, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the News Service of Florida. As one of the strongest opponents to Amendment 2, the sheriff and attorney says there are medical alternatives providing the THC needed to relieve pain and reduce nausea, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is helping lead an effort to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. Both a lawman and an attorney, Gualtieri was appointed sheriff by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. He was elected in his own right the following year.
8:44 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Juvenile Treatment Contractor Dropped

Lead in text: 
The operator of a 40-bed substance abuse treatment center in the Panhandle has lost its Department of Juvenile Justice contract, the News Service of Florida reports. Youth Services International, which also runs nine other centers in Florida, failed to correct programs involving safety and security for the teen boys in the program.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has canceled a contract with a controversial operator of a 40-bed residential facility in Santa Rosa County, with potentially far-reaching implications for the way the state rehabilitates juvenile offenders. Department officials said the Santa Rosa Substance Abuse Treatment Center hadn't corrected problems involving safety and security for the 14- to 18-year-old boys in its program.
HNF Stories
9:20 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Physicians United Members Face Deadline

Sunday is the final day seniors covered by a now-defunct Medicare Advantage plan can select a different policy.

The state’s Department of Financial Services took over operation of the Physician’s United Plan in early June, when it was more than $13 million in debt and unable to pay many creditors.

  

Read more
HNF Stories
7:47 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Coasters Thrill, Drill the Body

Guests at Busch Gardens Tampa can experience rides such as Cheetah Hunt without having to get on the ride.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Just hearing the CLICK, CLICK, CLICK of a roller coaster car making its ascent makes some of us on the ground break into a cold, cold, cold sweat.

The heart's racing. And you're queasy. Very, very queasy.

But what exactly is happening inside those bodies brave enough to be strapped into massive body harnesses so they can head up, up, up… and very far down in three minutes or less?

Read more
HNF Stories
9:22 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Report: FL Losing Most ACA Medicaid Money

Florida looks to lose more federal money set aside for Medicaid than any state that has opted out of expanding the health care program for the poor, says a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

Read more
HNF Stories
7:37 am
Fri August 15, 2014

WellCare Names Future CFO

Credit Tampa Tribune

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, Inc. has named Andrew “Drew” Asher as senior vice president, and anticipates he will become Chief Financial Officer in November.

Since 2013, Asher has been CFO of Aetna's Local and Regional Businesses, WellCare said in a statement. Prior to that, Asher also spent 15 years with Coventry Health Care, which was acquired by Aetna, serving as its senior vice president of corporate finance.

Read more
8:43 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Bondi Lends Voice to FDA Cigar Fight

Lead in text: 
Add Attorney General Pam Bondi to the list of supporters challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule linking e-cigarettes and cigars, the News Service of Florida reports. Her support, on behalf of Ybor City’s historic J.C. Newman Cigar Company, comes the same week dozens of other attorney generals asked that the rules regulating e-cigarettes be even stronger, according to the News Service.
Attorney General Pam Bondi labeled as "overbroad" the federal government's proposed regulations to link electronic cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to the same rules as the cigarette industry. Bondi wrote in a letter that she wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider the potential impact of the announced rule changes on Ybor City cigar manufacturer J.C.
HNF Stories
10:40 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Sex Talk Didn't Help HPV Vaccine

Dr. Anne Schuchat, left, stands next to a poster promoting HPV vaccination. The poster and other education materials were created by USF Public Health graduate students.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Florida lags behind the rest of the country in vaccinating children for the human papillomavirus. 

Part of the problem started eight years ago, when the HPV vaccine was introduced as a way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that researchers knew was a major cause of cervical cancer and other disease.

But the shots are recommended for 11- and 12-year-old children. And talking about a vaccine tied to sexual activity made some parents and pediatricians squirm.

Read more
10:23 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Sound Limits OK Outside Abortion Clinic

Lead in text: 
A federal appeals court has rejected a request to block a West Palm Beach ordinance banning amplified sounds outside health care facilities, the News Service of Florida reports. In 2013, anti-abortion activists filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ordinance, which bars sounds from loudspeakers and the like from within 100 feet of any health-care facility's property lines, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Rejecting arguments of anti-abortion activists, a federal appeals court Wednesday refused to block a West Palm Beach ordinance that bans amplified sound outside health-care facilities. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S.
10:27 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Court Affirms Patient Confidentially

Lead in text: 
An appellate court has ruled that a defendant’s conversation with a hospital psychotherapist cannot be shared by a deputy that overhead it, the News Service of Florida reports. The 4th District Court of Appeal said the man accused of stabbing a dog has a right to get appropriate medical treatment and should not worry about incriminating himself, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A South Florida appeals court Wednesday ruled that a sheriff's deputy cannot testify about a conversation he heard between a patient he was guarding and a psychotherapist in a hospital emergency room. The 4th District Court of Appeal ruling said the facts of the case presented a first-of-its kind issue in Florida.

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