Topher Forhecz

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News. 

He formerly freelanced for WNYC in New York City. He holds a master's degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Email: tforhecz@wgcu.org

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida is expanding its services for transgender people.

It will now offer hormone replacement therapy for those who want to transition genders. This will start in early October.   

Coffee-colored water gurgles near the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam. It flows down the Caloosahatchee River, roughly 30 miles from Fort Myers.

Florida’s medical marijuana program took too long to start for the parents of some sick children.

Hear Gail tell their story in her own words:


Multiple environmental advocacy groups are suing the National Park Service in federal court to stop oil and gas exploration in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

They’re concerned about how this will affect wildlife like the endangered Florida panther.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, was in Fort Myers  on Monday discussing solutions for the Lake Okeechobee water crisis. The lake’s freshwater releases have caused damage to both coasts, including the spread of algal blooms.

Sen. Rubio said there’s momentum in Congress to get central Everglades projects approved.

These storage and treatment plans are included in the Senate’s annual water bill.

Florida ranks fifth for income inequality in the country, according to a study recently published by the Economic Policy Institute.

It looks at the gap between what the top 1 percent and what the bottom 99 percent make nationwide.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection hosted a brownfields symposium this week in Sarasota.

Brownfields are sites considered to be “environmentally contaminated.”

The state wants to spread awareness about its brownfield redevelopment program to local cities and businesses.

Lee Memorial Health System wants to expand a program that targets malnutrition. Malnutrition is poor health caused by eating unhealthy foods or just not eating enough.

Malnourished patients are more likely to develop infections after surgery and are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

But, the condition can be hard to detect. Older folks are especially at risk because of things like taking medications that suppress their appetites.

Lee Memorial Health System is reducing the number of people who regularly use its emergency rooms. Treating regular ER visitors can be costly for the hospital, and the sign of a larger problem for the patient. We’ll explore a program targeting the underlying reasons that cause them to frequently visit the ER.

Researchers are looking into a new way to fight cancer. Their source weighs thousands of pounds, has four legs and a trunk.

They’re elephants, and they rarely get cancer.  

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ elephant retirement facility in Central Florida teamed up with the researchers to figure out why. They hope they can use their research to help people.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA recently launched a campaign warning Hendry County residents that local primate breeding facilities could be a hotbed for the Zika virus.

The virus causes birth defects in the babies of pregnant women.

A Sarasota-based medical marijuana company is developing a patch containing a chemical compound from the cannabis plant.  

The company – Alternative Medical Enterprises or AME – said the compound, known as CBD, has anti-inflammatory benefits that would help with conditions like arthritis.

This year’s legislative session will look at a number of bills involving medical marijuana. The state created an outline for its initial medical marijuana industry in 2014. It allows for the production of a non-euphoric strain of cannabis. Now, some legislators want to expand the current program – or just create an entirely new system.

The Lee Memorial Health System is changing its policies for providing free and discounted medical care for the area’s uninsured.

The policy shift moves the hospital group into compliance with Affordable Care Act regulations.

The Florida Department of Health announced Monday which five nurseries will participate in the state’s first medical marijuana program.

This is a step toward getting the program up and running, since it was signed into law about a year and a half ago.  

Patients will still have to wait months to receive the final product.

A Florida Congressman filed a bill recently that expands tax incentives for citrus growers.

The bill has bipartisan support from Florida House members and industry stakeholders.

They hope it will keep growers in the industry, even as it buckles under the devastating disease called citrus greening.

Opioid deaths in Manatee County are on track to double by the end of the year.

County officials believe this spike is the result of Florida’s crack down on pill mills. Now, users are turning to heroin and a synthetic drug called fentanyl sometimes with deadly results.

The crisis is putting a strain on community agencies from law enforcement to treatment centers.

Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding met at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

The governor said the commission wants to protect taxpayers from what he calls hospital “price gouging.”

Commissioners heard from a Southwest Florida doctor advocating for a type of healthcare that may become popular statewide.

The Florida Department of Health laid out how much a new medical marijuana program could cost Monday. The agency would oversee the program if voters approve it under a possible 2016 ballot measure.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is asking for almost $8 million from the state legislature for its crime labs. Half of that money is to keep crime lab employees from leaving.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s Sarasota Chapter sued the city and its police department recently. The suit is on behalf of six homeless men. It alleges local ordinances discriminate against the homeless. 

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday it will equip its deputies with a drug called naloxone. It stops people from overdosing on opioids like heroin.

It’s a first for Florida law enforcement agencies.

The State University System of Florida’s Board of Governors is asking state lawmakers to give them funding for more law enforcement and mental health counseling positions.

Proponents said the roughly $20 million would make state campuses safer.

Florida doctors can soon order medical marijuana for their patients. The law goes into effect at the start of next year.

But so far, only a few dozen doctors have signed up.

Note: Audio to come.

Lee Memorial Health System is preparing to build a hospital without beds. The company bought land in Estero about a decade ago. It was originally intended to be an 80-bed facility. But, the state denied its plans. Now, the plans have changed. 

The Roskamp Institute in Sarasota is planning to expand its clinic. The clinic is seeing an increasing number of active duty military and veterans.