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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. Consumer groups send out a warning for the holidays: Beware of 'potentially hazardous' toys


    ST. PETERSBURG — Everyone wants a Slinky.

    But a tiny version of the timeless toy — available in stores this holiday season — could pose a threat to young children, according to a report released Tuesday by the consumer group U.S. PIRG.

    The Slinky Jr. was one of 22 toys identified as "potentially hazardous" in this year's Trouble in Toyland survey. It was flagged for having high levels of chromium, which can cause rashes, ulcers and cancer....

    Above are some of the toys on the Trouble in Toyland report that lists dangerous and toxic toys.  The report finds that despite improvements from recent product safety regulation reforms, there are still dangerous toys on store shelves that pose a safety hazard. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  2. Deal to ease premium hike for Medicare Part B may be a temporary fix


    The federal budget agreement finalized this month staved off an unprecedented spike in Medicare premiums for higher-income seniors and those choosing to delay Social Security.

    But some experts say the eye-popping rate hikes could return in 2017.

    "The fix won't last," said Joseph Antos, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who predicted "a very large number of people could see their premiums go up."...

    The federal budget agreement finalized earlier this month staved off an unprecedented spike in Medicare premiums for higher-income seniors and those choosing to delay Social Security. But some experts say the eye-popping rate hikes could return in 2017. [AP photo]
  3. Powerful health groups renew push to raise Florida's cigarette tax


    Four powerful health organizations are putting their collective muscle behind an effort to increase the state’s cigarette tax for the first time in seven years.

    The coalition, which includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association in Florida and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, wants to see the tax increased by $1 per pack in 2016, its leaders announced Thursday....

  4. WellCare CEO: 'Big opportunities' ahead


    WellCare Health Plans is in the midst of a boom.

    Over the last five years, the Tampa-based health insurer has seen its revenue grow from $6 billion to a projected $14 billion, internal figures show.

    WellCare, which employs more than 3,000 people in the Tampa Bay region, provides managed care services for the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs, as well as prescription drug plans. The company serves more than 2.4 million Medicaid members and 1.4 million Medicare members in 15 states....

    Kenneth Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans, poses for a portrait at the company’s office in Tampa on Wednesday.
  5. Increase in prescription drug use pushing up health costs


    ST. PETERSBURG — The pills on Sherry Fox's nightstand are the most important part of her evening routine.

    There's metformin to help control her blood sugar and Lyrica for the pain brought on by fibromyalgia. A drug known as Singulair makes it easier for her to breathe.

    The medications make a difference, the 60-year-old retiree said outside of her St. Petersburg apartment last week....

  6. Power plant at St. Joseph's Hospital cited as 'creative' answer to carbon pollution


    TAMPA — Amid growing controversy over new carbon pollution standards, a pair of Democratic lawmakers visited St. Joseph's Hospital on Monday to learn about its alternative energy initiatives.

    U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, of Tampa, and Frank Pallone, of New Jersey, toured the hospital's cogeneration plant. Its natural gas-fired combustion engine can produce enough electricity to power the entire complex....

  7. Can the stuff in yogurt lower the risk for Type 1 diabetes? A USF study says maybe


    Studies have long shown probiotics are good for your gut.

    But the live microorganisms may have another health benefit for some infants.

    A team of researchers led by University of South Florida associate professor Ulla Uusitalo recently found infants who consumed probiotic formula or dietary supplements within 27 days of birth were less likely to develop islet autoimmunity, a condition that leads to Type 1 diabetes....

    Ulla Uusitalo, an associate professor at USF, led the study.
  8. Small touches for patients are the pride of Moffitt's new outpatient center


    TAMPA — When the Moffitt Cancer Center opens its new outpatient facility Monday, guests will notice the oversized entryway and sunny two-story atrium.

    Vicki Caraway hopes they notice the small things, too.

    Like the heated massage chairs with plush pillows and retractable footrests for patients receiving chemotherapy, or the private elevators and exits for those undergoing surgery....

    Art by Jonathan Borofsky hangs on the first floor of the new Moffitt McKinley Outpatient Center.
  9. Obamacare open enrollment gets off to a smooth start, but navigators still face challenges


    TAMPA — It took Doug Calwhite about 30 minutes Monday to enroll in a new health insurance plan on the Obamacare marketplace.

    The 62-year-old retired maintenance mechanic stopped into the University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center for in-person assistance from enrollment experts known as navigators. One quickly helped him trade his midrange silver plan for a more economical bronze plan....

    Doug Calwhite, 62, of Tampa works with Xonjenese Jacobs to get health insurance Monday at USF in Tampa.
  10. Obamacare 'navigators' face an uphill climb in the search for uninsured holdouts


    LUTZ — Matt Sommers showed up at the Lake Park homecoming powwow this week with a single mission: to spread the word about health insurance.

    It wasn't easy.

    A few people took fliers about the Affordable Care Act marketplace, which opens for enrollment Sunday. But others politely declined, turning their attention instead to the colorful Native American costumes and spirited dancing....

     Healthcare navigator Matt Sommers attempts to hand a flyer to Jeanie Ghafari, 52 of Tampa  during the Homecoming Powwow Association Annual Powwow at Lake Park in Lutz on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. Ghafari declined the flyer since she already has healthcare. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  11. Rate for a standard Obamacare plan to go down in Tampa Bay, bucking national trend


    The average price of standard Obamacare health plans will drop in the Tampa Bay area next year, federal health officials announced.

    The 2.4 percent average rate decrease for "benchmark plans" — the second-lowest-cost silver plan in the county where the consumer lives — is good news for people who are new to the marketplace, said Cynthia Cox, associate director of health reform and private insurance at the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation....

    Carlos Ortiz, 21, of Tampa is assisted by Carmaletta Stephens as he tries to sign up for Obamacare in 2014. The signup begins anew on Sunday, and many Tampa Bay area consumers could be getting a break. The average price of a standard plan in the region is slated to decline 2.4 percent for 2016. [SKIP O’ROURKE   |   Times]
  12. Big swings in medical prices make for a wild market, but savvy patients can benefit


    An MRI can cost $413 in the Tampa Bay area.

    It can also cost $2,566, depending on where you have it done.

    The whopping $2,153 price difference is one example of how health care costs can vary dramatically within the same region, according to a new analysis by the health care information technology company Castlight Health.

    The swings can be even more wild from city to city and state to state. In Pensacola, for example, an MRI of the lower back can cost as much as $5,546. Some providers in Utica, N.Y., however, offer the procedure for just $213....

    Patients can sometimes save money by going to an outpatient clinic or imaging facility instead of a traditional hospital for medical testing and procedures.
  13. Florida moves to keep more medical residents in state, but thousands more are needed by 2025


    TAMPA — She walks around the burn center at Tampa General Hospital with the confidence of a veteran physician, her long blonde hair tucked into a pink polka-dot surgical cap.

    "How is everything?" she asks a patient recovering from burns to her right arm and shoulder. "Do you mind if I take a peek?"

    But Dr. Alicia Billington isn't fully seasoned — not yet, anyway.

    She's among the expanding ranks of resident trainees at Tampa General. The hospital grew its program by 5 percent this year, and plans to continue on that trajectory in the future....

    Dr. Alicia Billington, a resident trainee at Tampa General Hospital through the USF Morsani College of Medicine, changed her mind about moving to New York to practice medicine. Instead, she’ll stay in the Tampa Bay area. “I’m going to stay,” she said. “This is definitely my home.”
  14. BayCare health system to acquire Bartow hospital


    BayCare Health System has signed an agreement to acquire Bartow Regional Medical Center, BayCare officials announced Friday.

    The 72-bed hospital is currently owned by the for-profit hospital chain Community Health Systems, Inc.

    The acquisition is part of a larger strategy to address community health needs in Polk County, BayCare Hospital Division President Glenn Waters said. The not-for-profit health system already owns Winter Haven Hospital....

  15. Medicare 2016: What you need to know about enrolling

    Life Times

    They appear on TV and in the newspaper. Some come in the mail.

    If it seems like advertisements for Medicare plans are everywhere these days, there's a reason: The annual open enrollment window began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

    With more than 3.5 million enrollees and dozens of drug plans to choose from, Florida has one of the most robust Medicare markets in the country.

    Confused about your choices? You aren't alone. The Tampa Bay Times annually publishes a special Medicare report to help guide people through the choices, including charts of available drug and health plans. ...

    Assistance is available if you have trouble figuring out what’s right 
for you. Medicare has a help line and Florida’s SHINE program offers in-person sessions. Contact information is listed below.