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Charlotte Sutton, Senior Editor/Health and Politics

Charlotte Sutton

Charlotte Sutton is senior editor/health and politics, at the Tampa Bay Times. Since moving to Florida in 1986 she has covered news all over the state, including hurricanes, politics, arts and entertainment. She and her husband, a writer and teacher, live in St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 893-8425


Twitter: @SuttonTimes

  1. Blame and shame won't control diabetes, but action can


    A few days ago, the last remaining Ebola patient in the United States, a New York physician who treated patients in Africa, got the all clear and is back at home. The two nurses in Dallas who contracted the disease from Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died at their hospital, also are doing fine.

    So, if you've been worried about Ebola in the United States, know that things are looking up here, though the crisis continues in West Africa....

    Dr. Munira Siddiqui
  2. Help seniors get the most out of Medicare Advantage open enrollment


    Do you think you have the power to stop somebody from making a really bad decision?

    If so, you probably don't have kids.

    But if you're dealing with a grownup, I think you have a much better shot of at least suggesting there might be a better option they could consider.

    It's open enrollment season for people on Medicare, the time when they can drop a plan that doesn't serve them, and pick a new one that could save them serious money and aggravation. But studies show most people never switch their Medicare Advantage or drug plans once they have enrolled — even though the plans often change the doctors, hospitals and medications they cover. ...

    “It’s a delicate matter,’’ Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center said of offering to help.
  3. Soul Injury Ceremony aims to ease the pains of veterans, others


    Deborah Grassman has made it her life's work to ease veterans' last days on earth. So she immediately knew what might help a man she met two years ago in an Ohio veterans home.

    As a soldier in the Vietnam War, he couldn't get leave for the funeral of his brother, who was killed in combat. By the time he did go home, his brother was long buried, and no one wanted to talk about it.

    For decades, the surviving soldier kept his grief buried, too. But as his own death neared, he needed resolution....

    Deborah Grassman
  4. Baby boomers have changed Road Scholar, CEO says


    Back in January, I wrote about our plan to bicycle from Berlin to Prague, using it as motivation to keep our 2014 fitness resolutions.

    The trip (which you can read about at, did indeed serve that purpose. But it turned out to be good for us in other ways, too.

    On the physical side, it's the only time in my life I have ever eaten absolutely everything I wanted, and still dropped 5 pounds. ...

    Jim Moses is president and CEO of Road Scholar.
  5. Storybook charm and scars of war line bike path from Berlin to Prague


    BAD SCHANDAU, Germany

    Clustered about as closely as 19 adults and bicycles could, we gathered alongside a steep, two-lane road in a part of eastern Germany nicknamed the "Saxon Switzerland'' for its rugged beauty.

    Our mission: Join the uphill parade of cars, trucks, buses and RVs, without benefit of a bike lane or even a ditch to plunge into if all else failed.

    Our goal: A lovely old spa town nestled along the Elbe River near the Czech border....

    This view of the Elbe River was shot from the Basteibruecke, a cliff formation that shows how this region of Eastern Germany came to be known as the “Saxon Switzerland.”
  6. Mindful eating could be the healthy dietary change you need


    What if it turns out that how we eat is just as essential to our health as what we eat?

    Our cover story today focuses on the importance to children of the family meal. Gathering at the table at least a few times a week, numerous studies indicate, is essential to healthy emotional and physical development.

    But this isn't just kids' stuff.

    Mindful eating — the exact opposite of what our dashboard dining culture promotes with every drive-through window — is a hot topic in nutrition research....

  7. Nifty items can help bicyclists beat the heat


    One of the interesting features of living in Florida is that Labor Day doesn't really mark the end of summer. The calendar says September, but we can fully expect to keep on sweating for weeks and even months.

    On Oct. 5, my husband, some friends and I will be getting on our bikes and — we intend — riding farther than we ever have before. Some time ago, we signed up for the Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life event, and decided to go for the 62-mile course starting at Fort De Soto and winding through St. Petersburg. This is also known as a "metric century,'' as it's equal to 100 kilometers....

    A Tampa couple designed the Relaj Shape water bottle especially for cyclists after their son made a comment while watching the Tour de France.
  8. Avoiding the HPV vaccine for your kids? Maybe it's time to reconsider


    If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you might be wrestling with a big question: Whether to get your child the HPV vaccine.

    Unlike other vaccines, this one isn't a requirement to go to school, and a lot of Florida parents are declining it. In fact, we have the second-worst HPV vaccination rate in the nation. Just a quarter of girls ages 13 to 17 (and even fewer boys) have received all three doses of the vaccination needed to protect against the human papillomavirus. ...

  9. Tanning is popular — especially with teens — but unhealthy


    Do you think you look better with a tan?

    A lot of us naturally pale people do. Fashion historians date the advent of the stylish suntan to 1923, when Coco Chanel came back from a Riviera cruise on the Duke of Westminster's yacht sporting a bronze tint. Not long after, Vogue started using tanned models, and that was that.

    About 50 years later, I was a child with my nose perpetually in a book. I remember my mother insisting I read in the back yard so that I could "get some color.''...

    Experts say the average adult needs 1 ounce, or “one shot glass,” of sunscreen for full coverage. 
  10. Crist touts 'fairness' plan


     Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist today in St. Petersburg announced what he's calling his "First Day of Fairness'' plan,  listing what he would do on his very first day in office if elected governor. In addition to longer-term issues such as Medicaid expansion -- which would require the Legislature's approval, no sure thing in Florida as Gov. Rick Scott knows well -- Crist highlighted these points in an appearance at the Enoch Davis Center:...

  11. Physician groups slam "Docs vs. Glocks'' ruling


    Friday's decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Florida's law against physicians asking patients about guns prompted sharply worded statements Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

    An earlier injunction blocking enforcement of the "physician gag law,'' also known as "docs vs. Glocks'' remains in effect while the full court considers an appeal by the plaintiffs to rehear the case. The pediatrician's group said Monday it is urging its members to keep asking parents whether they have guns at home, and if so whether they are stored safely....

  12. How lessons from auto racing are helping with patient safety


    Even if you're not a fan of auto racing, a pit crew at work is a marvelous sight. Moving with practiced precision, the team changes tires, refuels, adjusts, repairs and gets the driver back on the course — in seconds.

    After a 12-hour heart transplant surgery some years ago, two British physicians relaxing in front of a break room TV saw a Formula One crew in action and had a revelation:...

  13. Cyclists and motorists are both responsible for road safety


    Our cover model today, former St. Petersburg City Council member Leslie Curran, is a living billboard for bike helmets. The 2010 cycling accident that put her in a coma for nearly two weeks would have been fatal, her doctor says, if not for her helmet.

    She's in good company. After I shared the story of my own low-speed tumble last month, a number of you wrote to tell me about spills in which you cracked your helmets — but not your skulls. ...

  14. On streets or trails, a bike helmet could save your life


    I am not the most graceful person. Sports that require contact between a ball and a club, racquet or bat are not my thing. I like to dance, but you wouldn't want to see me do it.

    Learning to ride a bike did not come easily, but I've become a pretty good cyclist. City streets, rutted trails — I have navigated all without hospitalization.

    But I always wear a helmet when I ride, well aware that I could fall over at any minute. ...

  15. 'Decoding Annie Parker' could inspire patient participation in health decisions


    In a summer movie blockbuster season filled with dragons, apes and Transformers, it should not be surprising that a film about a patient and a scientist unraveling the mysteries of hereditary breast cancer is not getting a run at your local multiplex.

    But whatever Decoding Annie Parker lacks in box office potential, it could well make up as a conversation starter.

    Parker's true story — she is now a three-time cancer survivor — is undeniably compelling, as is the story of how the "breast cancer gene'' was identified. ...

    Decoding Annie Parker stars Samantha Morton as a patient in search of answers.