Wednesday, January 17, 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.

You should still get a flu shot. Flu season typically peaks December through February but can last until May, and it usually takes about two weeks for the shot's immunity to kick in. [Dreamstime]

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you donít want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The...
Published: 01/16/18
Rose Llauget, director of pregnancy and adoption services with Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg, Inc., replaces a doll representing the early stages of pregnancyat at her office in Tampa. Llauget oversees five Tampa Bay area centers that offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, adoption services and general counseling for women who find themselves in an unwanted or unscheduled pregnancy. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

ĎPregnancy centersí draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

Annie Filkowski used to see the signs during her drive to school each morning. "Free pregnancy tests," they said.So when she feared she might be pregnant at 16, shortly after starting to have sex with her boyfriend, she remembered them. And...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Community outreach events like this one in November at the University of South Florida helped Florida lead the nation in Obamacare signups for 2018, even as Republicans tried to kill the law. A final report on 2018 enrollment will be released in March. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]

Obamacare enrollment remained strong in Florida, despite obstacles

While health insurance sign-ups through the Affordable Care Act dipped slightly across the nation for 2018, Floridians bought plans at nearly the same levels as last year despite a much shorter enrollment period, a smaller budget for promotion and...
Published: 01/10/18
Addiction to painkillers like oxycodone or morphine has contributed to more than just a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and health care costs, according to a new study authored in part by USF researcher Troy Quast. From 2012 to 2015, about 2,000 more children were placed into the state's foster care system because of prescription drug abuse, which amounts to an addition $40 million in state costs, the study found. [Times files]

Opioid epidemic is driving thousands of Florida children into foster care, study finds

Add another negative consequence to the opioid epidemicís far-reaching impact: Prescription drug abuse is driving more children into Floridaís foster care system, according to a new study from the University of South Florida. The study,...
Published: 01/08/18
This entrance to Surterra Wellness Center in Tampa is used for greeting patients and as a gathering space.
 Surterra Holdings is one of several companies licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana products in Florida. The company said Thursday it would continue to operate as normal in the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the U.S. government could no longer be counted on to look the other way in states that have legalized marijuana use. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

Experts: Florida likely not a target in Jeff Sessionsí move to restrict marijuana

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Thursday that the U.S. government could no longer be counted on to look the other way in states that have legalized marijuana to various degrees even as the substance remains illegal under federal law.
Published: 01/05/18
John D. Couris, the new CEO of Tampa General Hospital, says the health care industry has a lot to learn about being more consumer friendly.

New CEO aims to expand Tampa General Hospitalís reach

TAMPA ó John D. Couris spent his first week on the job as Tampa General Hospitalís new chief executive holed up inside the island-bound institution, bracing for Hurricane Irma. Despite the pressure that comes with securing the regionís only...
Published: 01/03/18
The remaining Tetra Health Care center  is located at 2814 W Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Tampa. Similar to a walk-in urgent care center, Tetra Health Care is a place where patients can see a licensed doctor about obtaining medical marijuana as a form of treatment. [Photo by ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]

Patients face delays, bureaucratic headaches after marijuana clinics close

Thousands of patients who received medical marijuana access from physicians at a half-dozen recently closed clinics in Tampa Bay may be forced to find another doctor soon, which is no easy task due to state restrictions.Tetra Health Care, a...
Published: 12/29/17
Updated: 01/02/18
Collin Barnes, Reid Carlisle, Aidan Griffin, Cedric Buckley, Matthew Morgan, and Tyler Burkhart came to see the movie

A day at the movies, inspired by real-life and a good friend

Connor Carlisle wanted to design an invitation, something special, and he asked Sarah Reed for help.Reed is one of Connorís teachers at St. Petersburg High School, and her hospitality and tourism class is his favorite. He dreams of designing...
Updated one month ago
The Starbucks inside Tampa General Hospital is open every day. [Photo by ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]

Between surgeries at Tampa General, a place to recharge

DAVIS ISLAND ó The wheeze of an espresso machine dulls the Christmas music playing on the overhead speakers, but the customers waiting in line arenít listening anyway.A nurse in a surgical cap with green and red snowflakes is on her phone,...
Updated one month ago
Patient Julie DiPietrantonio, 67, of St. Petersburg, is examined by Dr. Howard Riker of Tetra Health Care. Tetra announced it was closing all but one of its Florida clinics. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

California chain of medical marijuana clinics downsizing Florida operations

Floridaís first chain of walk-in clinics for medical marijuana treatment is closing most of them less than six months after opening.Tetra Health Care, a California-based chain that hires licensed doctors to write medical marijuana...
Updated one month ago