Matthew F Smith

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.

Originally from Delaware, he moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director at stations across Alaska, where his reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as the Gulf Coast Live producer in August 2016.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, PA, where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years before pursuing a career in journalism.

An opioid overdose is an alarmingly frequent call for paramedics and firefighters in South Florida. But according to WLRN reporter Peter Haden, many of those victims came from outside the state to seek treatment for their addiction. With relapses topping 80 percent, many who arrive seeking help today can become tomorrow's overdose victim.

While most of the complaints about Southwest Florida's recent rainy weather center on the comeback of the annoying mosquito, the rain brings out another animal that can pose a serious threat to dogs: the cane toad, whose poison glands can sicken pets. Even the tadpoles can be highly toxic if ingested. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness will be commemorated Thursday, Jun. 15, and while seniors are often targets for scams and exploitation, health officials say elder self-neglect is a growing concern, a state where a person is no longer able to take proper care of themselves because of physical or mental impairment.

The first case of canine influenza, or "dog flu," was confirmed in Florida this week. More than a dozen cases of the highly contagious H3N2 canine flu virus has been identified in northern and central Florida since the first diagnosis, including cases in the Orlando area.

Hoping to get ahead of potential Zika outbreaks, Planned Parenthood of Collier County is launching a new education initiative aimed at prevention. While anyone is a target for a mosquito carrying the virus, the awareness program aims to help women protect their unborn children from the virus in underserved communities like Immokalee.

The first few months after having a baby is usually referred to as the “fourth trimester,” and while it’s a time of tremendous growth for baby, it’s a time when moms undergo a steep learning curve.  To help provide support during that time, Lee Health has introduced a new, bi-weekly program for new moms called the “Fourth Trimester Club”.

A saliva swab collected from a patient’s cheek can tell doctors what kinds of drugs will work best for a patient. It's the promise of pharmacogenomics, the science behind matching a patient's genetic profile with right medicine—and avoiding drugs that could actually harm them.

South Florida's clean water crisis often focuses on large-scale topics like Lake Okeechobee, but Southwest Florida water watchers say the conversation must also include smaller-scale bodies of water: the health of ponds, lakes, and canals that dot the landscape across the region.

Despite a months-long season for red snapper in state waters off Florida and other Gulf states, fisherman across the Gulf of Mexico are gearing up to protest a brief three-day opening to catch the prized fish in federal Gulf waters. Fishermen argue a short opening hurts businesses and hampers anglers across the Gulf, but fishery managers say a small window is important to preserve a species still recovering from overfishing.

Just this month Brazil—the country where experts say the Zika virus first arose—ended its nationwide health emergency related to the virus. The World Health Organization took a similar step in November. But as the summer mosquito season in Florida begins, the threat from Zika remains acute for South Florida and other parts of the world where the mosquitoes carrying the virus can be found.

It’s been six months and a full legislative session since the Florida Kids Count survey ranked the quality of life for children in the state among the lowest in the country. Now that lawmakers have gone home, what's changed?

Women are frequently encouraged to learn self-defense techniques, evaluate dangerous situations, and to remain alert for potential predators. The emphasis is often on ways potential victims can avoid victimization, but one Southwest Florida forensic consultant argues the conversation should focus instead on predators, and giving the community options in identifying potential offenders.

There's a growing need for blood in Southwest Florida during the summer months. A traditionally low point for demand in the area, blood banks say they're seeing the expected drop-off in donations every summer but no slowing of the demand.

On his first day at work at Lee Memorial Hospital, 44 years ago, Jim Nathan wrote that he expected the job to last just a year, long enough to meet a requirement for his masters degree. Now, after more than four decades with Lee Health, including more than 30 years as its president and CEO, 70-year-old Nathan is stepping down from the job June 1.

A brood of salt marsh mosquitoes borne from high tides along Southwest Florida’s coastal mangroves descended on Collier County this week, unleashing a “horrendous” torrent of insects that experts say is the worst they’ve seen in a decade.

Every county in Southwest Florida has logged at least one violation according to a new report on the nation’s tap water. Some had as many as six.

A statewide assessment of dental health needs found nearly a third of older adults in Florida aren't getting the early dental care they need. That lack of care is behind an expanded dental clinic in Lee County relying on volunteer health professionals to treat those most in need of dental care. 

A march designed to defend the role science plays in "our health, safety, economies, and governments" is taking place Saturday—Earth Day—in Washington, D.C., and like related marches in recent months, the Science March is being supported by thousands of satellite marches across the nation, including several in South Florida.


This year the dry season has been abnormally dry, which has earned Southwest Florida the classification of being in a “severe” drought by the National Weather Service. Fire officials say that drought is now prime fuel for wildfires.

Cuts by the Florida Department of Agriculture will eliminate a supplemental food program used by nearly 2,300 low income seniors in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, according to department officials and distributing agency, the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The cuts go into effect Jul. 1.
 

The cuts are through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program, administered by Florida's Department of Agriculture since January 2015. The state agricultural agency says it's eliminating the program in the three counties while also expanding it in nearby Glades and Hendry counties.

The annual health ranking of Florida Counties is out, and while some Southwest Florida counties can claim bragging rights, others are looking at ways to improve.


Firefighters put their lives on the line to every day, but the dangers they face are not the same dangers faced by firefighters in years past. The smoke that comes from modern fires include particulates from very different materials; plastics, petroleum-based products, and chemical-treated woods. 


It’s been a year of confusion for Florida’s roughly 400 death penalty cases. A series of court cases called the ultimate punishment unconstitutional, but a new law rapidly passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Rick Scott changes the state's death penalty to require unanimous juries to hand down a death sentence.

Pet owners are increasingly signing up to have their animals certified as “comfort” "therapy" or "emotional support" animals. The certification can be helpful for some conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, but significant differences separate comfort dogs from medical assistance dogs, including training, certification, and where they are legally allowed to go under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Florida's winter shrimp harvest in the Gulf of Mexico saw "a couple of bad months," fishermen say, on top of reports of low numbers for the iconic stone crab as well. That's all while a troublesome red tide has persisted since late last year

After a countertenors and hours-long public comment session, phosphate mining giant Mosaic was approved to expand its Manatee County operations. The expansion comes as the mining company faces continued scrutiny over a September spill at its Polk County phosphate plant saw more than 215 million gallons of contaminated water entered the Floridan Aquifer.

New estimates through mid-2016 show Florida's surge in syphilis cases continued last year, with cases of infectious syphilis jumping statewide by 36 percent by the middle the middle of year.

Syphilis in Florida grew by a shocking 72.8 percent from 2010 through 2014, and continued to grow by nearly 20 percent the following year. In some parts of South Florida, the rate of infection per 100,000 people is greater than in major cities like Los Angeles. Southwest Florida counties like Lee and Sarasota saw small numbers of the disease triple or quadruple during that six-month period.

Clean, renewable energy has been the goal for environmentally-minded energy users, aspiring engineers, and businesses and utilities alike. In Florida, solar power is often touted as the solution to the Sunshine State's energy needs, but a group of researchers and engineers in South Florida think "blue energy" derived from ocean currents like the Gulf Stream has just as big a part to play in renewably powering Florida's future. 

South Florida is home to some of the grayest counties in the country, and as more seniors face critical decisions about where and how they live, questions about what programs seniors can take advantage and the kind of care available in Southwest Florida are common.

New information on drug overdose deaths from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows staggering increases in deaths linked to opioid abuse in Florida.

In an annual report released late last year, FDLE found deaths from drugs like heroin claimed 779 lives in Florida in 2015; an increase in more than 75 percent from the prior year.

More powerful opioids like fentanyl saw similar increases: over 900 deaths were linked to the super-potent painkiller, an increase of nearly 70 percent.

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