Mostly Cloudy54° FULL FORECASTMostly Cloudy54° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page

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. Sick children wait for medical marijuana as nurseries fight over who gets to grow it


    Efforts to get medical marijuana to critically ill Floridians are once again stalled, this time because of legal wrangling that could take months to resolve.

    A dozen nurseries are challenging the way Florida awarded licenses to grow and dispense the drug — and asking an administrative law judge to take a second look at the applications that were passed over.

    The nurseries contend the state health department flubbed the selection process, and say the challenges are necessary to ensure only the best operations get the licenses. But some parents say they have already waited long enough to get the drug to their sick children....

    Nurse Starr McKinney holds onto Luke Guenst's hand during an exam at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg on Thursday, February 4, 2015. Luke has been diagnosed with leukemia and his mother, Amy, hopes he will be able to one day use medical marijuana to help with his pain. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
  2. When it comes to Obamacare sign-ups, Tampa Bay keeps its top 10 ranking


    Tampa Bay remained among the top regions in the nation for Obamacare sign-ups in 2016, according to figures released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    More than 284,000 local residents chose health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace during the open enrollment period that ended Jan. 31. Only seven metropolitan areas in states using a federally run exchange enrolled more people: Miami, Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Orlando, Chicago and Philadelphia....

    Downtown Tampa, one of the iconic views representing the Tampa Bay region, which this year is one of the top 10 metro areas in the nation for Obamacare sign-ups. [Times file photo]
  3. Florida facing a 'nursing shortage tsunami' due to increased population, more insured patients


    ST. PETERSBURG — Florida is in need of a few good nurses.

    12,493, to be exact.

    That's the number of vacant registered nursing positions across the state, according to a new report from the Florida Center for Nursing.

    Nursing shortages have come and gone for decades. But there's reason to believe this one could be a prolonged problem. Observers are particularly troubled because the number of vacancies has increased more than 30 percent since 2013, according to the report. Compounding the problem, another 9,947 nursing positions are expected to be created in 2016....

    Ashley Avis, a registered nurse at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, checks on cardiac patient Steven Botvin. Florida’s nursing vacancies are increasing, a new report says.
  4. Sunday deadline looms to sign up for Obamacare and avoid this year's higher penalty


    TAMPA — Dustin Rogers was sure he had missed the deadline for enrolling in an Obamacare plan this year — until a patron in the Tampa bar where he works set him straight last week.

    "The deadline isn't until Jan. 31," the barfly said between beers.

    Rogers, 30, made it a point to attend an open enrollment event Wednesday at the University of South Florida. Signing up was a relief, he said, not only because he can now see a doctor, but because he won't have to pay the $695 tax penalty for not having coverage....

    Nickolas St. Cyr, 26, of Tampa logs in to his Health Insurance Marketplace account on Wednesday while working with Dr. Avery Rosnick-Slyker with USF’s Florida Covering Kids & Families’ Navigator program to get enrolled in the Marshall Student Center Atrium in Tampa. St. Cry is a graduate student and has aged off of his parent’s coverage. With some guidance from the navigator program, he is now covered on his own plan. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]

  5. Bill would cut red tape for hospitalized students who want to keep up with schoolwork


    UPDATE: The proposal to streamline educational services for students who are hospitalized or home bound (HB 585) won the unanimous support of the Florida House late Wednesday. Its companion in the Senate (SB 806) is scheduled to be heard Thursday in the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.


    Fifteen-year-old Horace Kinsler's eyes brightened when a Pinellas County teacher walked into the hospital's dialysis unit Monday morning....

    Cancer patient and tenth-grader Olivia Rivera, 16, of Oldsmar goes over her chemistry schoolwork with Alicia Riggs, patient academic coordinator at All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg.
  6. Chicken pox cases spike at Clearwater's Plumb Elementary; unvaccinated kids told to stay home


    Pinellas County health officials are asking parents at a Clearwater elementary school to keep any unvaccinated students home for three weeks after an outbreak of chicken pox there.

    Eight children have come down with the illness at Plumb Elementary, marking another in a string of flareups that continue to frustrate public health officials nationally as they push the importance childhood vaccinations in the face of resistance from some parents....

    The chickenpox vaccine is required for all children who enroll in Florida public schools. It is included in the MMRV vaccine, which is administered in two doses and also protects against measles, mumps and rubella. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]
  7. A different kind of doctor's office: Patients pay directly, keeping insurance out of it


    CLEARWATER — Dr. Trinette Moss runs her family practice a little differently than most physicians.

    Instead of taking insurance, she prefers cash, check or credit card.

    Billing at her office works like this: Patients between 18 and 49 years old pay $60 a month. The fee covers unlimited office visits, urgent care services and an annual physical. It costs $15 a month to add a child....

    Patient Kathy Cress of Seminole is examined by Dr. Trinette Moss on Tuesday at her Clearwater office.
  8. A flu season delayed by warm weather is upon us, and officials say it's time to get vaccinated


    If you haven't had the flu this season, consider this your warning.

    You aren't in the clear just yet.

    The annual flu season — that oh-so-wonderful time of year that leaves millions sneezing, coughing and feeling lousy — is off to a late start, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    But experts expect activity to pick up in coming weeks, especially given the recent cool snap. ...

    A patient receives a flu shot in 2012. This year, health officials are saying warm weather in the final months of 2015 delayed flu season, which is now in full swing with the return of cold temperatures. They are urging people -- especially pregnant women, young children and those over 60 -- to get a flu shot. [Times files]
  9. For middle-income families, Obamacare costs are a Catch-22


    Gary Thompson pays $550 a month for a health insurance plan that covers him and his wife.

    The monthly bill strains the Tampa couple's finances. He works in cabinet design and sales. She is a hair stylist. Together, they make about $65,000.

    But here's what really gets him: With the exception of a few basic services, the plan won't pay any of Thompson's claims until he has spent at least $6,500 on health care. His wife also has a $6,500 deductible....

    Xonjenese Jacobs and Ashley Richards of USF wait to help people enroll in a health care plan. The deadline is Jan. 31.
  10. Florida health officials mounting new push to vaccinate kids against HPV


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Angela Babson knew something was seriously wrong when her toddler's face turned gray.

    Terrified the boy couldn't breathe, she rushed him to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. The doctors there agreed the situation was dire. They put him on a helicopter to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

    James Babson, 3, would need surgery to remove growths on his vocal chords that were blocking his airway. The diagnosis: recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a rare disease caused by HPV....

    Angela Babson’s 19-year-old son, James, has been through more than 40 surgeries to remove growths from his vocal chords.
  11. For Pinellas' new health director, the patient is 'the whole population'


    LARGO — When Ulyee Choe was a kid, fate brought his family from Kuwait City to Clearwater Beach.

    His father, a South Korean entrepreneur, was mulling new business opportunities and decided to buy the Glass House Motel.

    "I remember on the weekends as a teenager, I would work the desk and do the maintenance," Choe recalled. "It wasn't as glamorous as you would picture."

    So, when Choe, 36, was selected to lead the state Department of Health's office in Pinellas County in August, it was more than just a promotion. It was a homecoming....

    Dr. Ulyee Choe, the new director for the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, jumped at the chance to return to the county where he grew up. It’s one of three counties involved in a pilot program to review behavioral health services.
  12. Tampa's Moffitt center to play lead role in Biden's 'moon shot' to cure cancer


    President Barack Obama has a new "moon shot" — and a Tampa Bay area hospital is poised to play a central role.

    In one of the most memorable moments of his final State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama announced a new national effort to eradicate cancer.

    "For the loved ones we've all lost, for the families that we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," he said to thunderous applause....

    Dr. Thomas Sellers, director in Tampa of Moffitt Cancer Center, contacted Vice President Joe Biden's office in November 2015 about a 'moon shot' to cure cancer. [Photo courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center]
  13. Castor, Rubio blast VA over report detailing backlogged files


    One day after an audit blasted the Veteran's Affairs office in St. Petersburg for allegedly leaving veterans' personal information vulnerable to identity theft, elected officials from Florida called on the department's top official in Washington to remedy the problem.

    In a letter sent Thursday to Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said the issue of privacy at the VA has "tormented many of my friends and neighbors in Tampa Bay."...

    The VA’s sloppy record keeping is unacceptable and must be addressed, Rep. Kathy Castor said.
  14. Florida Legislature looking for a compromise on health care


    The Medicaid expansion debate that paralyzed the 2015 legislative session isn't likely to resume when lawmakers return to Tallahassee this week.

    But that doesn't mean health care will be on the back burner in 2016.

    The issue will play a central role in the budget negotiations, largely because lawmakers must decide whether to backfill $400 million in federal cuts to a program that helps hospitals pay for charity care....

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL  |  Times ]
  15. Report: Veterans' claims backlogged by the thousands at St. Petersburg VA office


    More than 41,900 mail packages with unprocessed veterans' claims materials piled up at the Veterans Affairs office in St. Petersburg last year, according to a new report by the department's inspector general.

    The inspector general also found that 1,600 boxes of claims materials from the St. Petersburg office swamped a scanning facility in Georgia — and raised doubts about whether the information had been securely stored....