05/17/17 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — For decades, the bustling St. Petersburg Free Clinic has operated largely out of an old post office building.
That will soon change.
The clinic recently bought two buildings in Pinellas County, said executive director Beth Houghton. One will house its growing health center, which provides free medical services for low-income people who are uninsured. The other will house its expanded food bank....
05/05/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers have agreed to cut $91.7 million from Tampa Bay area hospitals under a budget the Legislature plans to pass early next week.
Statewide, the proposed hospital cuts total $521 million, all coming from "supplemental" money that state lawmakers put into the Medicaid program two years ago.
Cuts would be deepest at the hospitals that take the largest number of Medicaid patients....
ST. PETERSBURG — The state health department has denied Northside Hospital's application for a new trauma center.
The decision, finalized Monday, came days after a circuit court judge said the health department planned to give Northside the green light — and issued an order blocking the St. Petersburg hospital from moving forward....
ST. PETERSBURG — Resident trainees at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital went into the community last week to teach children, parents and teachers about the dangers of toxic stress.
Toxic stress occurs when children are abused or neglected, or exposed to violence, serious turmoil or economic hardship. In young kids, the repeated activation of the nervous system can have a lasting effect on the developing brain. In older children, it can increase the risk for disease....
Tracey Davis was stunned to learn her checking account was overdrawn Monday.
She was even more stunned to learn why.
Florida Blue had billed her May health insurance payment 21 times. The total charges topped $18,000.
"I was in compete disbelief," said Davis, who lives in Tampa and pays $877 a month for a health insurance plan that also covers her husband. "It was a good thing I was not drinking my coffee. I would have done a spit take on my monitor."...
ST. PETERSBURG — Northside Hospital can't immediately move forward with plans to open a trauma center, a circuit court judge ruled late Friday.
The hospital, located at 6000 49th St. N, intended to open a specialized center for critically injured patients on May 1. But it met a legal challenge from Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, which operates its own trauma center downtown and said having a competitor just a few miles away would siphon off patients and erode quality....
Wondering what's ahead for Zika?
This coming summer will likely look like last summer, when 1,100 travel-related cases were reported statewide, and the virus spread in small pockets of South Florida.
But there's a chance it could be worse.
"We are preparing for local transmission, and we are preparing for the worst-case scenario," said Dr. Beata Casanas, an infectious disease expert and associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine....
The first drug to treat an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis has won approval from the Food and Drug Administration, a significant medical development with ties to the Tampa Bay area.
Local patients helped test the safety and effectiveness of the drug in clinical trials at the University of South Florida's Multiple Sclerosis Center, said Dr. Derrick Robertson, the center's director.
"We were one of the top enrolling sites in the country for this medication," Robertson said. "We have lots of patients who have been part of the science that led to this drug getting approved."...
The bill wasn’t supposed to be controversial, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon said. Its aim: to raise awareness about firearm violence.
But even that had a hard time winning support in the Florida Senate on Monday.
The proposal, urging Congress to designate September 2017 as firearm violence awareness month, earned barely enough votes to advance out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee (SM 1322)....
As lawmakers on a Capitol Hill consider overhauling the federal health instance program for the poor, a debate has bubbled up over what the changes would mean for Floridians.
Earlier this month, the Florida House passed a resolution urging Congress to establish a so-called block grant program, which would give states a set amount of money to spend for Medicaid and the flexibility to spend it as they see fit. The resolution passed along party lines....
State Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, wants to bring back a popular health insurance plan for Florida kids.
The plan, known as Sunshine Health Stars Plus, covered nearly 10,000 children across the state, some of whom had special needs and were unable to get coverage elsewhere. Their families made too much money to qualify for government-subsidized health insurance, and so agreed to pay the full premiums....
How many older Floridians with Affordable Care Act coverage would see their premiums rise under the Republican replacement plan?
About 454,000, according to a new analysis by AARP.
Low-income people in their 60s would be hardest hit, the analysis found. For some, the proposal under consideration in Congress could mean an annual tax credit reduction of nearly $6,000.
The cut in government aid would put thousands in an "untenable situation," forcing many people in their 50s and 60s to go without health insurance, AARP Florida state director Jeff Johnson said Friday....
The notoriously long shifts worked by freshly minted doctors are about to get even longer.
The organization that oversees physician training in the United States approved new rules last week that will let first-year doctors work 24-hour shifts in hospitals starting July 1.
They had been limited to 16 consecutive hours since 2011.
Critics have been quick to raise concerns about safety — both for the rookie doctors, known as residents, and their patients. But some physicians see the benefits of longer shifts....
ST. PETERSBURG — Northside Hospital has filed the preliminary paperwork to open a trauma center, setting up a potential fight with other Tampa Bay area hospitals already offering the specialized services.
Northside is "uniquely positioned to respond to the need for additional trauma programs," spokeswoman Carrie Johnson said in a statement.
"Our Comprehensive Stroke Center is the only nationally recognized program in the county and successfully supports hospitals along Florida's west coast," she said....
The Florida Legislature stands poised to address some hot-button issues in health care this session, including hospital deregulation and funding.
But the issue garnering the most attention so far is medical marijuana.
In November, more than 70 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing people with "debilitating medical conditions" to use medical marijuana as prescribed by a doctor. Before then, only cancer patients and people with intractable seizures could use the drug legally....