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. 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....

  2. 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....

  3. 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.
  4. 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....

    Michele and Michael Coe had insurance coverage for a trip to Bayfront Health Brooksville’s emergency room in October. Then they received a bill of almost $1,000 for the doctor,  who wasn’t in  their network.
  5. 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....

  6. 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]
  7. 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.
  8. 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....

  9. 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....

    Anna Stamas, 19, of Tarpon Springs, prepares to observe a surgical procedure last month at Florida Hospital North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs.
  10. 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 prepare to clean the teeth of Yaisel Cruz, 6, at the Suncoast Community Health Centers clinic in Palm River. The recently opened center caters to the dental needs of poorer children.
  11. 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.
  12. 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....

  13. 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....

    Freud, a sea turtle rehabilitated at the Florida Aquarium, is prepared last year for a CT scan at the University of South Florida Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation.
  14. 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. ...

  15. 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....