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Kathleen McGrory, Times Staff Writer

Kathleen McGrory

Kathleen McGrory is a health and medicine reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. Before joining the newspaper in 2015, she spent seven years as a metro reporter for the Miami Herald and two years as a government reporter in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She speaks Spanish and holds degrees from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Phone: (727) 893-8330


Twitter: @kmcgrory


  1. Florida makes final preparations for growing and dispensing medical marijuana


    ARCADIA — Rod Hollingsworth Jr. came of age watching his father and grandfather grow orchids in this community of sprawling farms and historic homes along the Peace River. He learned to appreciate the shape of their petals, each shade of violet, magenta and white.

    But lately, a different flowering plant has been on his mind.

    Hollingsworth wants to be among the first in the state to grow medical marijuana....

    Dr. Selim Benbadis is one of almost 50 doctors who have taken the eight-hour course to prescribe medical marijuana.
  2. Injured by a sea lion? Your doctor's office has a code for that


    It was busier than usual at Small World Pediatrics on Thursday — and not because cold and flu season had come back with a vengeance.

    Behind the scenes, the doctors at the Wesley Chapel practice waded through tens of thousands of new medical "codes," the snippets of information they give insurance companies in order to get paid.

    The old system had about 14,000 codes to represent different diagnoses. But physicians nationwide switched to an updated system Thursday with nearly 70,000 codes for illnesses and injuries....

  3. Chronically ill kids and their police officer mentors learn from each other


    ST. PETERSBURG — They played an NBA video game Tuesday like the oldest of friends.

    "You dunked on me!" one shouted, feigning momentary outrage.

    The other erupted into laughter.

    But St. Petersburg police Detective Samora Church and 9-year-old Indya Hansberry had only just met.

    The two are participating in a new program at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine that pairs police officers with chronically ill kids trying to keep up with their schoolwork. The officers mentor the children, with the goal of providing extra support in the face of serious health challenges....

    St. Petersburg police Officer Mike Demark, left, checks the score as Officer Neil Rambaran, middle, and Maj. Cheryl Johnson play a basketball game while waiting for the kids they are paired with at All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine on Tuesday. [LARA CERRI  |   Times] 
  4. Survey of private health insurance plans finds large increase in deductibles since 2010


    There's a reason consumers feel like they are spending more money on health care.

    Deductibles for employer-sponsored health insurance plans have climbed by nearly 67 percent since 2010 — far outpacing inflation and the rise in workers' wages, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

    "If wages were keeping up with the growth in cost sharing, it wouldn't be as big a deal for people," said Kaiser foundation president Drew Altman. "But the pain level is significant. It really affect families' budgets."...

  5. Parent company of Florida Hospital settles with feds over false claims


    Adventist Health System, the Altamonte Springs-based parent company of the Florida Hospital health network, has agreed to pay $115 million to settle allegations it illegally paid physicians for referrals, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

    The claims stem from a 2012 lawsuit filed by former employees of an Adventist hospital in Hendersonville, N.C. The whistle-blowers alleged Adventist submitted false claims to Medicaid and Medicare to generate more money for doctors who referred patients to their hospitals....

  6. Medicare premiums for most won't increase in 2016, but higher-income seniors could see a big hike


    Medicare Advantage premiums will remain stable for the sixth straight year, as will premiums for the Medicare prescription drug program known as Part D, federal health officials announced Monday.

    But some high-income seniors can expect increases of more than 50 percent in their Part B premiums, according to an analysis by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. That includes individuals whose household income tops $85,000 and couples whose household income tops $170,000....

  7. The nurse will see you now — remotely (w/video)


    ST. PETERSBURG — Wearing a headset with a microphone, her gaze fixed on a panel of computer screens, Chris Smith looks more like an air traffic controller than a critical care nurse.

    But tending to the sick is how she will spend the next 12 hours.

    Her screens are full of real-time data from the most fragile patients at five Tampa Bay area hospitals. With a few clicks, she can see their heart rates, breathing rates and oxygen levels. A few more clicks and she can pull up X-rays and lab results, or connect with the patients in their rooms....

    Doctors and nurses at eCare Central control a remote camera in hospital rooms to talk with critically ill patients and check their vital statistics via Skype-like technology.
  8. Census: Number of Tampa Bay residents without medical insurance drops


    More than 60,000 people in the Tampa Bay area gained health insurance coverage in the first year of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

    In Pinellas County alone, the number of uninsured residents fell from 159,990 in 2013 to 128,207 in 2014 — a 19.9 percent decrease. The figure dipped from 221,926 to 202,428 in Hillsborough County....

  9. Planned Parenthood braces for fight


    TAMPA — Alexandria Barlow stood in the back of a small crowd Wednesday, hair pulled back, brown hoodie zipped up, waiting for the Planned Parenthood health center to open at 11 a.m.

    She wasn't there to end a pregnancy. She was there to prevent one.

    "I'm interested in birth control," the soft-spoken 23-year-old told a clinic employee.

    Barlow, who has been living with friends in Tampa while she looks for a permanent home, wasn't sure where else to go. She doesn't have health insurance, and couldn't afford the fees a traditional gynecologist would charge for a birth control consultation and exam....

    Women requesting information on birth control and STDs make up the majority of Planned Parenthood patients, local health centers say. 
  10. Scott enlists Pinellas in effort to improve Florida's mental health system


    Pinellas County will soon be part of a pilot program aimed at enhancing mental health services, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday.

    As part of the program, the state Department of Children and Families will conduct a "comprehensive review" of local, state and federally funded behavioral health services in Pinellas County. The department will also audit local mental health treatment facilities with an eye toward patient care, safety and security, technology, staffing levels and training. ...

    Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order adding Alachua and Pinellas counties to the mental health pilot program on Wednesday.
  11. Doctors say children's health suffers as Medicaid lawsuit lingers


    Dr. Marcy Howard, a pediatrician with a small practice in rural Citrus County, felt a sense of relief in December when a federal judge ruled Florida's Medicaid program was shortchanging needy children.

    Howard had long struggled to be profitable in the face of Florida's low Medicaid reimbursement rates. Almost all of her young patients receive coverage through the publicly funded program, which pays doctors a fraction of what private insurers pay for the same services. ...

  12. Vinik: Health and wellness will be 'part of our brand' for downtown Tampa redevelopment


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's ambitions go beyond winning Stanley Cups and revitalizing downtown Tampa.

    He says he also wants to help improve the health of the community.

    "We've got the $1 billion-plus real estate development going on, and wellness and health (are) such a big part of what we are thinking," the developer and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning said Thursday. "It's going to be part of our brand and one of the foremost initiatives."...

    “Wellness and health (are) such a big part of what we are thinking.”
Jeff  Vinik
  13. USF, Pinellas commission win grants to help people enroll in Obamacare


    Remember the "navigators" who helped people sign up for health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace?

    They're coming back to the Tampa Bay area.

    On Wednesday, federal health officials awarded nearly $10 million in grants to help fund navigator programs in Florida. The University of South Florida and the Pinellas County Commission were among the winners, nabbing $5.9 million and $580,000, respectively....

  14. Thousands facing steep increases for Healthy Kids insurance can enroll in Obamacare until Nov. 30


    Families wishing to drop their Florida Healthy Kids insurance plans can purchase new plans through the Obamacare marketplace, Florida Healthy Kids officials said.

    The special enrollment period ends Nov. 30.

    Federal officials decided to open enrollment for some 36,000 Florida families who pay the full rate for Healthy Kids coverage because their monthly premiums are set to double come Oct. 1....

  15. USF Health, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg announce new academic partnership


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and the University of South Florida are joining forces to bring key medical and surgical specialties to south Pinellas County, the institutions announced Tuesday.

    Bayfront and USF Health have signed an agreement that will allow them to jointly hire physicians in certain disciplines. The doctors will practice near Bayfront's downtown St. Petersburg campus and hold faculty positions at USF's Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa....

    Bayfront is considering adding breast cancer, urogynecology and reproductive endocrinology practice areas.