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Jodie Tillman, Times Staff Writer

Jodie Tillman

Jodie Tillman covers the health and medicine beat. She started at the Times in May 2006.

Phone: (813) 226-3374

Email: jtillman@tampabay.com

Twitter: @JTillmanTimes

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  1. Former Plant High student tests positive for tuberculosis

    Health

    TAMPA — A former Plant High School student has tested positive for tuberculosis, a potentially fatal disease caused by bacteria that attack the lungs.

    The Florida Department of Health received notice of the confirmed TB case on Jan. 22. Department spokesman Steve Huard said the student had already left the school district, though he did not know on what date, and he wouldn't say where the student moved. A school district spokesman could not offer additional details about the student's time at Plant High....

  2. Health officials: HPV vaccine is about stopping cancer, not promoting sex

    Health

    TAMPA — Nine years ago, the federal government approved a medical breakthrough: a vaccine for adolescents that blocks a common, cancer-causing virus.

    But selling the public on the vaccine has been tough, say health officials, mostly because the virus is sexually transmitted and many parents think inoculating their kids is tantamount to approving teen sex.

    It's time to try a new sales pitch, said national health leaders gathered at Moffitt Cancer Center on Thursday for a major conference on HPV, or human papillomavirus....

  3. Tampa General, Florida Hospital form new company to offer wider range of care

    Health

    TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital and Florida Hospital are teaming up to build a $60 million outpatient center in Brandon, launch a home care agency and create a hospice program. Their jointly owned partnership, called West Florida Health, is driven by a changing health care economy that favors big systems that can care for patients at all stages of sickness and health.

    Top officials from the two nonprofit hospitals provided for the first time Friday the details of their partnership, announced in September 2013....

    Tampa General Hospital, an independent nonprofit with 1,018 beds, is the primary teaching hospital for University of South Florida and serves as the region’s only Level 1 trauma center.
  4. Moffitt Cancer Center may build new hospital to cope with space crunch

    Health

    TAMPA — Moffitt Cancer Center officials are considering a plan to replace the pressed-for-space hospital with a new building that would be more than twice as tall.

    Most general hospitals are losing inpatient business as many procedures are increasingly done on an outpatient basis. But at Moffitt, inpatient admissions have kept going up, particularly for patients needing complicated surgeries and bone marrow transplants, said Jack Kolosky, Moffitt's chief operating officer....

    Hemmed in at its current location, Moffitt Cancer Center won’t be able to get additional hospital parcels from the University of South Florida, which has no land to give. So the main option under consideration is to tear down the old hospital and put a new, taller one in its place.
  5. Same-sex couples around Tampa Bay line up to get married and make history

    Courts

    TAMPA — Before she presided over a mass wedding ceremony Tuesday, Hillsborough Clerk of Court Pat Frank asked the dozens of gay couples how many years they had waited for the moment.

    "Ten!'

    "Twenty-six!''

    "Forty-three!''

    "Forty three!" said Frank. "Well, you have waited a long time."

    No longer. At that park in Tampa and across Florida, wedding bells rang for same-sex couples, the result of a successful court challenge to the state's 2008 ban on gay marriages....

    Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank, right, marries Brenda Cuevas, left, and Shirley Winslow at the Hillsborough Circuit Court office Tuesday in Tampa. Many couples were married in a mass ceremony in Tampa’s Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park.
  6. A historic day in Florida as gay weddings begin

    Courts

    Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello got an early start on history Monday, becoming the first gay couple to marry in Florida after a judge let Miami-Dade County issued marriage licenses hours before the midnight launch of same-sex weddings statewide.

    Now comes the rest of Florida. Court clerks have deployed extra staff, reworded paperwork and reserved parks and courtrooms to handle the gay couples expected to line up today for the historic — and long-awaited — chance to be married in the Sunshine State....

    Newlyweds Todd and Jeff Delmay embrace as Karla Arguello, left, and Catherina Pareto applaud Monday during Florida’s first same-sex marriages held in the Miami-Dade courtroom of Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel. Couples in Miami-Dade received their marriage licenses hours before the midnight launch of same-sex weddings statewide. Arguello and Pareto also were married Monday.
  7. Florida and other states enduring 'severe' flu season

    Health

    Flu cases nationwide are reaching levels not seen in two years, a trend driven in part by a mismatch between the vaccine and this season's dominant virus type.

    Twenty-two states, including Florida, reported "high" levels of flu activity in the week before Christmas, a nearly 70 percent jump over the previous week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Hospitalizations and deaths due to flu were also on the rise last month. Nationwide, pediatric deaths totaled 15, up from four over the same period in 2013....

    A man receives a free flu shot  during a free flu shot clinic in December in Oakland, Calif. Flu cases nationwide are reaching levels not seen in two years, a trend driven in part by a mismatch between the vaccine and this season's dominant virus type. [Getty Images]
  8. Local pastors use march to unite police, black communities

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    Around the country, protests over police treatment of black men have closed streets and shut down a shopping mall.

    A quiet downtown march in Tampa led by black clergy Thursday included not only a police escort but remarks by police Chief Jane Castor and Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

    About 150 people made their way to Lykes Gaslight Park — some walking in their nice church clothes and others hitching rides in church vans — where they sang hymns, prayed for the safety of police officers and spoke out against racial discrimination....

    The Rev. David W. Green Sr., left, pastor of Allen Temple AME, and the Rev. Thomas Scott, pastor of the 34th Street Church of God, join in the festivities during Thursday’s march for peace.
  9. Woman at Busch Gardens hit in leg by possible celebratory gunfire, police say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — A 20-year-old woman attending New Year's festivities at Busch Gardens was struck in the leg by a bullet, possibly from celebratory gunfire, Tampa police said.

    Kaitlyn Jacobs, 20, of Seminole was sitting in the Gwazi Pavilion area just before midnight when she suddenly felt pain in her lower left leg. She was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, where x-rays revealed a bullet was lodged in her leg....

  10. Robbery sparks chaos and panic at International Plaza

    Crime

    TAMPA — In a sign of these jumpy times, International Plaza turned to chaos Tuesday afternoon when loud bangs — later learned to be glass breaking during a jewelry store robbery — caused shoppers and employees to panic and many to run for the doors.

    Parents and their young children lay flat on the floor of the playground area, bodies pressed to the ground between kid-sized replicas of elephants and lions. Women jumped over tables in the food court and people cried as they ran to find shelter....

    Tampa Police block the entrance to International Plaza after reports of robbery inside. Security officers at the mall say shoppers are being evacuated and stores are on lockdown. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  11. Moffitt researcher has unconventional weapon in war on cancer: math

    Health

    TAMPA — Dr. Robert Gatenby delights in the history of pest management — a surprising affection, given that he does not fight bugs. He fights cancer.

    But Gatenby says the bug industry offers critical lessons: Use toxic pesticides to kill every crop-destroying insect, and you leave behind the strongest, most resistant ones. And without competition from the easy-to-kill bugs, the strong are free to breed....

    Dr. Robert Gatenby wants to use math to adjust treatment plans as a cancer changes.
  12. USF study shows college students believe hookah smoking safer than cigarettes

    Health

    TAMPA — He never drinks alcohol or smokes cigarettes, but Wathik Bouslimi makes an exception to his otherwise moderate lifestyle: hookah smoking.

    Bouslimi, a 32-year-old software engineering student at Strayer University, was smoking apple-flavored tobacco through a hookah — a traditional metal water pipe with a mouthpiece at the end of a flexible hose — as he studied at Kahwa Hookah Lounge near Busch Gardens one recent afternoon. He enjoys hookah smoking but has few illusions about its risks....

    A smoke bubble bursts above Amber Quintenz as she draws from a hookah recently at Habibi Cafe in Ybor City.  Smoking out of hookahs — single or multi-stemmed instruments used to vaporize flavored tobacco — has become more popular in the past few years with the younger generation. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times] 
  13. Humana agrees to cut costs of HIV drugs for Florida patients

    Health

    The third of four Florida insurers accused of overcharging HIV and AIDS patients for their medications has agreed to take steps to reduce those costs, advocacy groups announced Friday.

    Humana signed an agreement with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation agreeing to reduce patient cost-sharing for all HIV drugs on the 2015 plans it sells on the federal marketplace in Florida.

    Florida officials began investigating after two advocacy groups — the AIDS Institute based on Davis Islands in Tampa and the National Health Law Program — filed a federal complaint alleging four insurance companies had discriminated against HIV and AIDS patients....

  14. Health care exchange deadlines approach

    Health

    Enrollment season for health insurance plans sold through the Affordable Care Act federal marketplace continues through Feb. 15. But if you want coverage to start Jan. 1, you've got just until Monday to pick a new plan.

    Existing customers face a dilemma: If they don't pick a new plan by Monday, the federal government will automatically re-enroll them in their current policies. And that might come with surprises — some unpleasant....

    These two examples from the ProPublica Web application show that premiums aren’t the only factor to consider when buying insurance. Notice that while premiums are rising for both plans, the deductible and maximum out-of-pocket costs are going up for the BlueCare plan and down for the myCigna plan.
  15. Tampa Bay hospitals vie to get into hospice business

    Health

    Hillsborough and Pasco counties need more hospice programs to meet demand, state officials say, a declaration that has sent more than a dozen groups scrambling for the rare chance to expand their end-of-life services.

    Among the applicants are three Tampa Bay hospital systems, all of which would be making their first moves into the local hospice market.

    BayCare Health System proposes teaming up with Suncoast Hospice, which now serves only Pinellas County, to form a new nonprofit hospice program in Hillsborough and Pasco....