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. 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]
  2. 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.
  3. 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....

  4. Florida Hospital program gives students early taste of medical life


    TARPON SPRINGS — Her physician grandfather had no exposure to patients until his third year of medical school. But Alyssa Benjamin has already scrubbed in for surgeries, worked on her suture skills and even helped remove a suspicious mole off her boss' neck.

    And she hasn't even applied to medical school.

    Benjamin, a Dunedin resident and sophomore at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, was one of about a half dozen undergraduates in a premedical internship program this summer at Florida Hospital North Pinellas....

    Dr. Douglas Reintgen, right, performs a procedure last month at Florida Hospital North Pinellas as the interns look on.
  5. Hillsborough clinic offers needed dental care to children


    TAMPA — Last month a woman searched four days for a dentist who could help her 18-month-old daughter. The child had barely eaten after falling and breaking her front tooth in half.

    But the Hillsborough County mom couldn't find a dentist who would accept Medicaid. At last, she found Suncoast Community Health Centers, where dentists administered anesthesia and pulled the tooth — in 15 minutes, said Dr. Richard Gyles, Suncoast's pediatric dental director....

    Dr. Harrison Black, left, and dental assistant Crystal Ortiz, right, prepare to clean the teeth of patient Yaisel Cruz, 6, center, at the Palm River Community Health Center.  The recently opened center has 7 dental stations and caters to the health care needs of children. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  6. Laughing gas in delivery rooms? More area hospitals say yes


    TAMPA — Pregnant with her third child, Lizzy Lester knew she wanted a natural, unmedicated delivery. But she jumped at an option to take the edge off the labor pains: nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.

    So the medical staff at Tampa General Hospital wheeled in a bedside device that let Lester breathe the gas through a face mask when she felt she needed it. And did she need it: Baby Sylas Spencer came into the world Tuesday tipping 11 pounds....

    Lizzy Lester holds her 11-pound son, Sylas Spencer, born Tuesday at Tampa General Hospital, which just began offering nitrous oxide. Lester opted for it and said it made the pain tolerable.
  7. HCA opens first local 'seniors ER' at St. Petersburg General


    ST. PETERSBURG — Emergency room patients come in all ages, but St. Petersburg General Hospital decided to focus a makeover on one group: seniors.

    The hospital, owned by national chain HCA, recently unveiled new senior-friendly details in its emergency department. They include:

    • Four treatment rooms outfitted with softer lighting, thicker mattresses and nonskid floors....

  8. Freud, sea turtle that couldn't swim, is ready for release


    TAMPA — A couple of months ago, Freud the sea turtle gave a reassuring sign to his caretakers at the Florida Aquarium: He swam to the bottom of his tank and chilled out.

    This was huge progress — just last year, Freud couldn't swim or dive. Aquarium staffers had long suspected a tear in his lungs but couldn't pinpoint the problem for the endangered green sea turtle.

    Freud was taken to the aquarium shortly after being discovered on a Panhandle beach in November 2012. He was lethargic, bloated and covered in algae....

    A CT scan shows a large air pocket beneath Freud's shell, preventing him from diving. The CT scan was an attempt to figure out where the air was entering the his body cavity. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times (2013)]
  9. Bay area hospice affiliation reflects trend toward health care consolidation


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Two well-known Tampa Bay hospice programs could soon be part of the same nonprofit corporation, yet another sign of the growing trend of consolidation in health care.

    HPH Hospice, which serves Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties, has signed a letter of intent to affiliate with Chapters Health System, the parent company of Hillsborough's LifePath Hospice.

    The two nonprofits are finalizing the details of the transaction and expect the affiliation to be complete in December. HPH Hospice would keep its name and foundation. ...

  10. Community Health opens toll-free line for patients who might be data breach victims


    ST. PETERSBURG — Patients at Bayfront Health System's clinics still don't know if their personal information, including Social Security numbers, was stolen during a massive cyberattack on Community Health System, Bayfront's parent company. But local clinics are referring patients to a toll-free number set up by Community.

    That number is 1-855-205-6951.

    On Wednesday, the line consisted of several pre-recorded messages about the cyberattack, thought to have occurred in April and June, affecting 4.5 million patients nationwide. Patients are told they will be notified by letter if their information was compromised. They will also be offered free identity theft protection. Vulnerable patients include those who saw or were referred to a clinic doctor up to five years ago, the company has said....

  11. Community Health System data breach hits millions, possibly including Bayfront clinic patients


    The parent company of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg says criminal cyberattackers stole Social Security numbers and other information of about 4.5 million patients treated by its affiliated physician groups.

    Tennessee-based Community Health Systems — which also owns Bayfront Health Spring Hill, Bayfront Health Brooksville and Bayfront Health Dade City — said Monday that no medical or credit card records were taken in the attack, which may have happened in April and June. But Community said the attack did bypass its security systems to take patient names, addresses, birth dates, and telephone and Social Security numbers....

    Community Health Systems, which owns Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, said cyberattackers stole Social Security numbers and other information of about 4.5 million patients treated by its affiliated physician groups but no medical or credit card records were taken.
  12. Having a heart attack? HCA hospitals hope you'll think of them


    Having a heart attack in Pinellas County? HCA Healthcare, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, is making a pitch it hopes you'll remember in a time of emergency.

    "Make the seconds count," the company's west Florida division says in a recent mailing to households. "Call 911 and ask EMS to take you to an HCA Pinellas County Hospital."

    Marketing emergency departments can be a tricky strategy, but it's one that HCA has embraced perhaps more than any other Tampa Bay area hospital group....

    An HCA Healthcare mailer advises people having a heart attack to tell EMS to go to an HCA Pinellas County hospital.
  13. USF considering new locations, including downtown Tampa, for medical school


    TAMPA — University of South Florida's health programs are, as the new medical school dean puts it, "bursting at the seams."

    So that leaves USF Health with a big decision: Will it expand on its current campus or move to downtown Tampa?

    "We're looking at all the options," Dr. Charles Lockwood, USF's medical school dean, said in a recent meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board....

    Dr. Charles Lockwood, USF’s medical school dean, says he’s neutral on the location.
  14. Coalition launches campaign to get kids vaccinated against HPV


    TAMPA — Parents soon may see back-to-school checklists that include not only backpacks and notebooks but also vaccinations to prevent the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

    The HPV Action and Awareness Coalition, led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and University of South Florida officials Tuesday unveiled a local public health campaign aimed at increasing the state's lagging immunization rate....

  15. Without Walls says it has settled debts and is moving to new Tampa location


    TAMPA — Hoping to emerge from bankruptcy, Without Walls International Church says it is close to selling its longtime home near Raymond James Stadium to a real estate developer.

    Attorneys for Without Walls said in a document filed in federal court Friday that a sales contract with the Richman Group closes Monday. The developer plans to pay $12.6 million and build multifamily apartment units on the W Columbus Drive property, said Leah Stewart, a development associate with Richman's West Palm Beach office....

    Without Walls International Church in Tampa, led by Randy White, was once one of the fastest-growing churches in the country. A real estate developer is buying the property.