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


Twitter: @JTillmanTimes

  1. African journalists' visit to St. Petersburg canceled due to Ebola fears


    ST. PETERSBURG — The University of South Florida St. Petersburg has canceled the upcoming visit of 14 journalists from African countries, citing Ebola-related fears from faculty, students and staff.

    The journalists, part of the U.S. Department of State Edward R. Murrow program, were scheduled to arrive in St. Petersburg on Oct. 31 for a five-day visit. Two of those journalists are from the Ebola-affected nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Salem Solomon, a Tampa-based journalist, wrote in an op-ed appearing in the Tampa Bay Times criticizing the university's decision....

  2. Ebola response highlights government cuts to public health


    The Ebola threat is calling attention to a problem years in the making: cuts to the programs and staff intended to prepare for just such a public health emergency.

    Gov. Rick Scott, who has demanded federal aid to prepare for Ebola, announced Monday that the Florida National Guard is establishing two "rapid response teams" to help hospitals. But he has also overseen major cuts in the state's own Department of Health. The department had 15,170 staff positions this year — a 13 percent drop from 2010, according to legislative documents....

  3. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will donate land for downtown USF medical school

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik wants the University of South Florida to build a new medical school on his downtown property so badly that he's willing to give the school an acre of his land to seal the deal.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner made the offer this week to USF president Judy Genshaft and Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, according to a university spokesman....

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has amassed a significant chunk of southern downtown around the team’s home at the Amalie Arena: the Channelside Bay Plaza outdoor mall, the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina and 24 empty acres around the arena. He is set to unveil plans to transform the area into a walkable entertainment district and he also wants to attract major employers in high-end industries to his redevelopment project, including, perhaps, the University of South Florida’s new medical school.
  4. Nurses say Florida hospitals not prepared for Ebola; Scott calls for more training


    TAMPA — Working in a hospital unit that handles the sickest patients, Kim Scott knows she's the type of nurse who could treat an Ebola case. But the 26-year veteran she said she doesn't feel ready for it — especially after news that a second Texas hospital worker had contracted the virus from a patient who has since died.

    "It is a scary time to be a worker in the health care field," said Scott, who would not specify at which of the two Brooksville hospitals she works. "And it's a scary time for the public."...

    Nurses and members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee perform a “die in” Wednesday in Ybor City to protest what they call a lack of preparation of medical personnel to deal with Ebola outbreaks.
  5. After Texas nurse contracts Ebola, Tampa Bay hospitals say they are prepared


    As federal officials vow to review procedures for safely treating Ebola patients, Tampa Bay-area hospitals say they are moving ahead with their response plans should an infected patient enter their doors.

    But news over the weekend that a Texas nurse who had treated an Ebola patient had herself contracted the virus was a sharp reminder that the most subtle mishap — a tiny splatter of vomit that hits the floor, a droplet of fluid that slips in under a glove — can foil protocol and put workers at risk....

    At All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg, officials are training workers via video and other means on procedures for safely treating Ebola, said Dr. Wassam Rahman, medical director of the emergency department. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  6. USF must decide location of new medical school to get state funds


    JUPITER — The University of South Florida must settle on a location for its new medical school building, or it could have trouble getting additional public money for the project next year, a key committee of the state university system said Wednesday.

    USF officials say they are still weighing whether to expand on their current campus or build in downtown Tampa. But members of the Florida Board of Governors' facility committee said USF risks missing out on state construction money in the next legislative session if it doesn't make up its mind by the end of the year....

    Judy Genshaft said USF has had talks with Jeff Vinik.
  7. USF to seek money for new medical school; key players favor downtown


    TAMPA — As the University of South Florida seeks more state money for a new medical school building, the project's biggest benefactor offered a glimpse Friday of what — and where — that new structure could be.

    Philanthropist Frank Morsani said USF Health officials are strongly considering a downtown campus for third- and fourth-year medical students.

    "The majority of the education early on will take place at the main campus, but the last two years, I think the downtown campus makes sense," he said....

    A preliminary artist's rendering shows what the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine building might look like. [State University System of Florida]
  8. Florida hospitals prepare for Ebola cases


    TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital has planned for the day it might get a suspected Ebola case. Officials designated special rooms for such patients and purchased impermeable Tyvek suits, face shields and heavy duty gloves for the staff who would treat them.

    The only step left is to train workers on how to handle the new equipment — something that will happen much more quickly now that the United States has its first confirmed case, in Texas, said Peggy Thompson, director of infection prevention at Tampa General....

  9. State investigates St. Pete facility for Alzheimer's patients over possible scabies outbreak


    State officials are taking another look at how a St. Petersburg assisted living facility handled a possible scabies outbreak amid new complaints that executives took too long to address the problem.

    Inspired Living at Ivy Ridge, which specializes in caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, disclosed in a Sept. 7 letter to families that a "limited" number of its roughly 60 residents suffered rashes "similar to scabies." Only one of those residents had a confirmed case of scabies, the letter said....

  10. HCA will close St. Petersburg's Edward White Hospital, citing low revenues


    ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly 40 years after opening its doors, Edward White Hospital will close in November amid another year of empty beds and a multimillion-dollar shortfall.

    It will be the first Florida hospital to close since the 2012 shutdown of A.G. Holley State Hospital, the state's only tuberculosis institution, in Palm Beach County. Hospital closures are rare, but admissions are declining nationally amid changes in how insurers pay for care and the fact that more medical procedures can be done without an overnight stay....

    HCA West Florida has decided to close Edward White Hospital in November after the facility lost $5.5 million last year.
  11. Even with in-network hospital, insurance may not cover ER physicians


    When her husband, Charles, showed signs of heart trouble in January, Donna Baker didn't hesitate to drive him to the emergency department at nearby Mease Countryside Hospital.

    Only later did the Bakers learn that while Mease Countryside is part of their health insurance network, the physician who treated him there is not. The ER doctors are employed by a separate company that doesn't accept their United HealthCare plan....

    Mease Dunedin Hospital
  12. Tampa General, USF leaders aim to strengthen relationship at top


    TAMPA — The chief executive officers at Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida's medical school are giving each other leadership roles in their operations, another move intended to cement what has sometimes been a testy relationship between the two institutions.

    Tampa General CEO Jim Burkhart and Dr. Charles Lockwood, dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, will now participate in each other's senior executive meetings, the pair announced in a joint news release Thursday....

  13. USF pulls out of its $4 million specialty care clinic at the Villages


    Late last year, University of South Florida physicians opened a medical clinic at the Villages, near Ocala, to offer such specialty care as gynecology, cardiology and orthopedics. It was a key piece of the Tampa university's ambitious experiment to turn the retirement mecca into "America's Healthiest Hometown."

    "We're excited to see USF Health extending the benefits of an academic health center … to serve residents in a new region of Florida," USF president Judy Genshaft said at an official opening ceremony in January....

    The specialty care center USFphysicians opened at the Villages was supposed to be a key piece of the university's ambitious experiment to turn the retirement mecca into "America's Healthiest Hometown." [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  14. Scott makes appeal to women voters at Tampa campaign stop


    TAMPA — With polls showing women favor his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott and his backers urged a mostly female gathering Tuesday to flip the gender gap to his advantage.

    Women business and political leaders from the Tampa Bay area surrounded Scott and his wife, Ann, on a campaign stop at the Laser Spine Institute. Speakers emphasized Scott's record on education and aid to small businesses as the type of pocketbook issues around which women can rally....

    Gov. Rick Scott greets Whitney Jones, 33, as first lady Ann Scott, right, talks with others in the crowd during a campaign rally at Laser Spine Institute in Tampa. Polls give Scott’s opponent, Charlie Crist, an edge with female voters.
  15. CDC warns of fast-spreading virus that has hit kids in Midwest (w/ video)


    An uncommon respiratory virus that has sent hundreds of children to hospitals in the Midwest could spread to Florida and other states, top federal health officials warned Monday.

    Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said doctors around the nation should be on the alert for the strain of virus known as EV-D68. Because of how frequently people travel, it's unrealistic to expect outbreaks to stay contained to certain parts of the country....