Sunday, October 21, 2018


Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers health and medicine for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. She previously wrote about business news. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Mikey.

The 2019 open enrollment period starting Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7 offers Medicare beneficiaries a chance to consider a privately run Medicare Advantage plan instead of being covered by Original Medicare. This year, many Advantage plans are offering extras designed to improve wellness and keep patients out of the hospital. [Times (2011)]

Medicare opens enrollment for 2019 with insurers focused on keeping you out of the hospital

The annual Medicare open enrollment period kicks off today, and the news is generally good for nearly 4.4 million Floridians who rely on the program. Premiums are expected to...
Published: 10/15/18
Nurses gathered in 2011 at Community Hospital to voice concerns about their negotiations with Hospital Corporation of America, known as HCA. Earlier this year, in a similar round of negotiations, nurses again expressed dismay with pay and working conditions at HCA hospitals, saying at one point they were willing to strike if necessary. A tentative agreement was announced Friday. If approved, it would run through May 31, 2021. [Times (2011)]

Nurses at HCA hospitals reach contract agreement

Registered nurses from 15 hospitals in Florida owned by the national chain, Hospital Corporation of America, have reached tentative agreements on union contract negotiations. Nurses across Florida and several other states have been picketing,...
Published: 10/12/18
Diane Jimenez hugs Glen Frank Spurlin at Tampa General Hospital during a celebration in 2010 marking the 25th anniversary of Spurlin's 1985 heart transplant. Jimenez, a nurse at TGH, cared for Spurlin after the operation. When he died on Sept. 26, he was the longest-living heart transplant patient in Florida.  [SKIP O'ROURKE, Times]

Florida’s longest-living heart transplant patient has died

Services were held this week for Glen Frank Spurlin, who passed away Sept. 26 in Lakeland after having lived more than 33 years with a donor heart he received at Tampa General Hospital.He was the longest-living heart transplant patient in...
Updated one month ago
Doctors say it's too early to tell whether this flu season will be as bad as the last. But the Florida Department of Health says it is already gearing up for additional outbreaks expected in the coming weeks. []

After last year’s fatal flu season, health officials want you to get the shot soon

After a 2017-18 flu season that many considered the worst in 40 years, Tampa Bay area health officials are warning residents to get vaccinated early. More than 80,000 people in the United States, including 180 children, died last season because...
Updated one month ago
Nurse manager Amy Hunt holds the special stethoscope that allows nurses at Tampa General Hospital to record a heartbeat while they listen to it during a routine exam. The instrument was purchased with funding from Hard Rock, which operates a hotel and casino in Tampa and has donated $20,000 to the hospital's Beats of Love program. Nurses use the stethoscope on critical patients to create audio keepsakes for families. [BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times]

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his...
Updated one month ago
Jewell Hamilton, left, and Andre Curry attend the front desk at Florida Blue in Tampa, where consumers can get wellness checks in addition to buying insurance. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times]

In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

The health care business in Florida and across the nation is the midst of monumental change as insurers, hospital chains and even retailers begin to venture outside their traditional roles.
Updated one month ago
Shoppers walk into the  University Mall in Tampa on a weekday in August. The mall's owners have plans to turn the property into a research village called Uptown. [SARA DINATALE  |  Times]

The Daystarter: ‘Catastrophic’ Florence on verge of landfall; is University Mall the future?’ missteps that could keep the Rays out of the postseason

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Hurricane Florence may be lashing the Carolinas but that...
Updated one month ago
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.

Girl, 15, arrested for threatening to bring gun to Gibbs High

ST. PETERSBURG — A 15-year-old girl was arrested Thursday and accused of threatening to bring a gun to Gibbs High School.The tip about the threatening Facebook post came in Thursday afternoon, according to St. Petersburg police.The...
Updated one month ago
Navigator Elizabeth Ruiz, right, worked with University of South Florida sophomore Nadim Joudeh during the 2017 Obamare enrollment cycle. For 2019, navigators are concerned about another drastic cut in marketing funds for the health insurance program, as well as some new wrinkles that might cause confusion among consumers. Open enrollment for 2019 begins Nov. 1. [CHRIS URSO  |   Times]

Florida has more people using Obamacare than any other state. Will that continue in 2019?

With just about two months to go before the start of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, local advocates say they are worried they won’t have nearly enough resources to get the word out to consumers about some confusing changes this year.
Updated one month ago
The array of options under Medicare can seem mind-boggling, and recipients need to do their homework. But help is available. Oct. 15 marks the start of the Annual Election Period, when people covered under the federal health insurance program get a chance to evaluate their options and decide whether to make a change. [Times (2011)]

Navigating Medicare’s annual enrollment period: What you need to know for 2019

For the nearly 4.4 million Floridians who receive benefits through Medicare, this is an important time of year.Monday, Oct. 15, marks the start of the Annual Election Period, when people covered under the federal health insurance program for...
Published: 09/05/18
Updated: 10/12/18