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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

  

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
HNF Stories
1:41 am
Thu August 7, 2014

No Documents? No Problem Here

Sister Sara Proctor of the Catholic Mobile Medical Ministries of the Diocese of St. Petersburg
Mary Shedden/WUSF

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.

Dozens show up at the San Jose Mission medical clinic every Monday night, knowing Sister Sara Proctor and her team of volunteers won't ask for what they don't have: money or documentation.

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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.
7:22 am
Tue July 29, 2014

“Docs vs. Glocks” to be Challenged

Lead in text: 
Physicians supportive of gun control plan to appeal a court ruling that keeps them from discussing gun ownership and the risks with patients, the News Service of Florida reports. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is helping with the challenge in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Doctors and gun-control advocates said Monday they will appeal to the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a ruling that upheld Florida's controversial "docs vs. glocks" law. A three-judge panel of the court, in a 2-1 ruling last week, said the state Legislature had the right to pass the law, which includes provisions restricting doctors and other medical providers from asking questions about gun ownership during medical visits.
7:14 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Trauma Drama Over

Lead in text: 
Legal efforts to close HCA Healthcare-owned trauma centers in Bradenton and Pasco County have been dropped, the News Service of Florida reports. Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Health filed notices that they will drop the years-long dispute over increasing the number of trauma centers across the state.
Three Tampa Bay-area hospitals have filed notices that they are dropping legal challenges against trauma centers at Blake Medical Center in Manatee County and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County. The moves Friday by Tampa General Hospital, Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and St.
HNF Stories
1:00 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Jobs Needing Less Education Growing

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Home health aides, medical assistants and other workers with less than a four-year college degree account for nearly half of the health care workforce in Florida and across the country, a new Brookings Institute analysis reports.

Between 2009 and 2011, a total of 3.8 million people in 10 different “pre-baccalaureate” fields worked in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, including eight regions in Florida, said Martha Ross, a Brookings fellow and author of the report released today.

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8:14 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Trauma Center Battle May Be Over

Lead in text: 
The bitter, three-year battle over the expansion of Florida’s hospital trauma centers may have come to a quiet end, the News Service of Florida reports. No appeals were filed by late Monday in the key lawsuit that pitted established, urban trauma centers against newer, suburban facilities wanting to provide specialized emergency services, the News Service reports.
Florida's trauma drama could be almost finished. With an appeal deadline passing Monday, the Florida Department of Health and hospitals owned by HCA Health Care chain appear to have prevailed after a three-year legal and political battle about approving new trauma centers.
8:11 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Disability Pay Calculation Wrong: Court

Lead in text: 
A new payment system for developmentally disabled Floridians needs to be fixed, the News Service of Florida reports. The so-called ‘iBudgets’ system aimed to give people flexibility in the way state money is spent on services, but the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that the way the Agency for Persons with Disabilities calculated payments violated state law, according to the News Service.
An appeals court Monday found that the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities did not properly carry out a law that created a new system of funding services for people with developmental disabilities. The case, brought on behalf of four people with disabilities, focused on a system known as "iBudgets."
HNF Stories
5:56 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

FL Mosquitoes Spreading Virus

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Health officials say a mosquito-borne illness that had afflicted Floridians who traveled to the Caribbean has now been transmitted within the state.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported the first locally acquired cases of Chikungunya. A 41-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County and a 50-year-old man in Palm Beach County are out of the hospital and recovering from the illness, which is serious but rarely fatal.

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7:53 am
Thu July 17, 2014

AHCA Ordered to Pay Hospitals' Legal Fees

Lead in text: 
A battle over hospital emergency care for undocumented immigrants could cost the state Agency for Health Care Administration two years’ worth of legal fees, according to the News Service of Florida. Though AHCA dropped an appeal about payments to hospitals that provide emergency services to these immigrants, the 1st District Court of Appeal says it’s still responsible for other costs, the News Service reports.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration last month dropped an appeal in a long-running legal fight about payments to hospitals that provide
HNF Stories
7:42 am
Tue July 15, 2014

33 FL Hospitals Rank in U.S. News Report

Credit U.S. News and World Report

Florida's largest hospital is also its best, according to the annual U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking announced today.

Florida Hospital in Orlando earned the state's top spot by ranking nationally in 10 of 16 specialties evaluated in the annual report.   With 1,972 beds, the hospital is the largest in Florida and second-largest in the nation, according to Beck's Hospital Review.

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9:22 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Feds Focus on FL Child Deaths

Lead in text: 
Hundreds of child advocates, officials and social workers told a federal panel in Tampa Thursday that Florida’s child death reforms are not enough to protect its children, the News Service of Florida reports. The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities heard hours of testimony about changes to a system where hundreds of children have died while on the state’s radar, NSF’s Margie Menzel reports.
Despite a new law revamping Florida's child welfare system, the state still has far to go to stop child deaths from abuse and neglect, a federal panel
HNF Stories
10:50 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Uninsured Rate Drops, but Remains High

A lot more Floridians have health coverage compared to a year ago, but the state continues to have one of the nation’s highest uninsured rates, two new studies show.

An estimated 26 percent of working-age Floridians remain uninsured, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey that looks at enrollment since the Affordable Care Act enrollment launched last October.

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HNF Stories
3:27 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Picking Up the PUP Pieces

Lee Champagne is a volunteer Medicare counselor with SHINE, the state's free insurance counseling program for seniors.
Mary Shedden WUSF

Unpaid claims. Coverage Denied. Liquidation.

These are not words you want associated with your health insurance company.

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HNF Stories
6:15 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Judge Affirms DOH on Trauma Rule

Tampa General Hospital is one of several hospitals suing the Department of Health over its trauma center rule.
Credit Tampa General Hospital

Florida’s Department of Health was within its legal right to revamp the state’s system for establishing new hospital trauma centers, an administrative judge ruled late Friday.

The state’s year-long process to create a new formula to approve trauma centers was done carefully and within responsibilities assigned to the DOH, reads the 71-page order by Judge R. Bruce McKibben of the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings.

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