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Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writer

Alexandra Zayas

Alexandra Zayas won the 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize for her three-part series "In God's Name," which uncovered abuse at unlicensed religious children's homes across Florida. A reporter on the Tampa Bay Times' investigations team, Zayas graduated from the University of Miami and has written for the Miami Herald and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. She joined the Times in 2005, and lives in Seminole Heights. She has taught classes at the Poynter Institute about finding and telling untold stories.

She's always looking for ideas.

Phone: (727) 893-8413


Twitter: @AlexandraZayas

  1. How riding your bike can land you in trouble with the cops — if you're black

    Public Safety

    If the tickets are any indication, Tampa residents must be the lousiest bicyclists in Florida.

    They don't use lights at night. Don't ride close enough to the curb. Can't manage to keep their hands on the handlebars.

    In the past three years, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined....

    [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  2. 'The Walking Dead' recap: Episode 7, 'Crossed'


    There are two kinds of human evil in The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse. We're well-acquainted with the obvious breed: the one-eyed Governor, the dreamboat cannibal - both bigger monsters than the corpses limping through the streets. But this season, we've had a brush with a different brand of bad guy: the powerful coward. There's Officer Dawn Lerner, clinging so desperately to her dystopia that she enables lollipop assaults and much, much worse because "the wards keep my officers happy." And there's Father Gabriel, who chose to lock himself in his church with a lifetime supply of Beanee-Weenee while allowing droves of his help-seeking parishioners to become a zombie buffet. Everyone has a weakness. It’s how you deal with that weakness – yours and others'  – that makes all the difference....

  3. Taking children to the wrong trauma center can be a deadly mistake


    One April evening two years ago, 9-year-old Justin Davis dashed into a busy Jacksonville street, headed to a convenience store for snacks.

    When paramedics arrived minutes later, they found the boy lying on the road, unconscious. The impact of a car had fractured his skull and his brain was swelling and bleeding.

    Paramedics knew they had to act fast.

    Instead of taking Justin to the pediatric trauma center 13 miles away — the only place in Jacksonville equipped to handle his injuries — they drove him in the opposite direction, to a new adult trauma center a few miles closer....

    With his brain swelling and bleeding, Justin Davis was first taken to Orange Park Medical Center 8 miles from where he was hit by a car. Orange Park was not designated as a pediatric trauma center and could not treat Justin’s brain injuries. The Florida Department of Health has since shut down the HCA trauma center but would not say why.
  4. Trauma system expansion plan upheld by judge


    Over the objections of long-established Florida hospitals, a judge has upheld a state proposal that paves the way for a costly expansion of the trauma care system.

    The order by Judge R. Bruce McKibben is the latest chapter in a contentious battle for seriously injured patients who can generate high payouts from health and auto insurers.

    A group of longstanding trauma centers, including Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Tampa General and St. Joseph's hospitals in Tampa, had challenged the state's trauma center expansion plans, saying regulators overstepped their authority and the rule is "arbitrary and capricious."...

    Florida has 27 hospitals designated to operate special medical units for traumatically injured pations who need specialized care fast.  [Times files (2013)]
  5. HCA announces it will waive trauma fees for the uninsured


    Hospital Corporation of America, Florida's largest provider of trauma care, announced this week it will stop charging uninsured patients a special trauma fee that can add $30,000 or more to their bills....

  6. Senator files bill to curb trauma center response fee

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — What started as a legislative effort to protect the Hospital Corporation of America from lawsuits over its trauma centers could also clamp down on the for-profit company's outsized trauma response fees, and slow down its plans to open still more facilities....

    Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco is one of three HCA trauma centers in dispute to stay open. The others: Blake Medical Center in Manatee and Ocala Regional Medical Center.
  7. Debate over Florida trauma response fees moves to Tallahassee (w/video)


    The Safety Net Hospital Alliance, which represents 12 Florida trauma centers, says there are clear abuses in the way hospitals are levying "trauma response" fees, and it would support legislation to rein in overcharging.

    But Hospital Corporation of America, which a yearlong Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed to have the highest average trauma fees ever seen in Florida, is not part of that group. A relative newcomer to the Florida trauma market, it operates five of the state's 25 adult trauma centers. It charges as much as $33,000 for what is effectively a cover charge, even charging patients who are not seriously injured....

    HCA has opened a trauma center at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.
  8. How HCA turned trauma into a money-maker


    Last year in western Pasco County, 16-year-old Mason Jwanouskos was in the backseat of a convertible when his friend lost control and crashed into a stone pillar.
    He couldn't have picked a more expensive place to get hurt....

    Mason Jwanouskos, now 17, holds the shirt he was wearing when he was hurt in a car crash that led to him being taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. With him is his father Bruce Jwanouskos and his mother Teri Jwanouskos.
  9. A family photo shows Eric Leonhard in a hospital bed after the accident.
  10. Trauma centers miles apart, in place and price


    When it comes to the trauma response fee, patients can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars extra based on nothing more than geography and chance.

    Consider the case of Eric Leonhard, a Fort Pierce boat captain whose rented limousine crashed in November 2012.

    Leonhard and 15 friends were blocks away from their Vero Beach destination when their driver ran a red light into the path of a Jeep. Leonhard was rushed to the closest trauma center, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, which has some of the highest response fees in the state....

  11. How we reported on Florida trauma fees


    To examine how Florida trauma centers bill their patients, the Tampa Bay Times relied on billing data collected by state health officials from hospitals across the state.

    The databases, maintained by the Agency for Health Care Administration, include diagnosis, treatment and hospital charge information for every patient seen in an emergency room or admitted to a Florida hospital.

    The database does not identify patients by name or address....

  12. Column: Tampa and the birth of the cool


    Lena Dunham, the 27-year-old creator of the HBO show Girls, is one of the most relevant, talented voices of Generation Y. But the envelope-pushing wunderkind this week resorted to the lazy cliche of using Tampa as a punch line. How very un-Brooklyn.

    Dunham delivered the blow Tuesday night during a keynote address at a fundraiser for Scott Stringer, who is running against former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer to become New York City comptroller. She said recent college graduates are "struggling to find jobs and pay the rent and if they struggle for too long, they're leaving New York" for other cities, "even Tampa …...

    Manhattan borough president and candidate for comptroller Scott Stringer and actress Lena Dunham attend a fundraiser last week. Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls, took a swipe at Tampa.
  13. We'll take your cast-offs, Lena Dunham


    Lena Dunham, the 27-year-old creator of the HBO show Girls, is one of the most relevant, talented voices of Generation Y. But the envelope-pushing wunderkind this week resorted to the lazy cliche of using Tampa as a punch line. How very un-Brooklyn.

    As noted here by Richard Danielson, she said recent college graduates are “struggling to find jobs and pay the rent and if they struggle for too long, they’re leaving New York” for other cities, “even Tampa......