Sam Ogozalek - Health Reporter

Health Reporter

I’m here to help you navigate the confounding, complex U.S. health care system — especially as it relates to mental and behavioral health — and to hold institutions accountable for your quality of care. Do you have a story to tell? Let’s talk. I’m from a rural town in upstate New York and attended Syracuse University, where I edited The Daily Orange, the school’s independent student newspaper. When I’m not working, I love to hike, especially in the Big Cypress. If you have trail recommendations, reach out any time.

  1. Protesters hold cardboard signs shaped like tombstones in front of the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport in early August 2022 as the Florida Board of Medicine meets inside. A group of parents and transgender children filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the medical board, among others, for its ban on gender-affirming care for youth.
  2. David Shern, who was chairperson of Florida’s 1999 Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, displays the group’s 2001 report at his home office in Hillsborough County on Feb. 2.
  3. The exterior of the the Bonati Spine Institute is seen Friday, March 17, 2023 in Hudson. The surgical center at the institute has been shut down after Florida health care regulators suspended the center’s license.
  4. A Sunstar Ambulance leaves Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor. A person in southwest Florida recently died from a brain-eating amoeba infection.
  5. The transgender pride flag.
  6. Lorraine Langlois, CEO of Metro Inclusive Health, will retire in December, according to the nonprofit’s board of directors.
  7. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, center, flanked by Jim Millican, division chief with the Lealman Fire District, left, and Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, speaks to reporters on Jan. 30, 2023, at the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County in Clearwater.
  8. New rules from the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine will bar doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries to treat new patients younger than 18 for gender dysphoria. Kaleb Hobson-Garcia, a transgender man, drove from Tallahassee to speak during a press conference in front of the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport as the Board of Medicine met in August 2022.
  9. Transgender youth in Florida seeking to start puberty blockers and hormone therapy will have no access to treatment in the state once a pending ban takes effect — not even in clinical trials. A St. Petersburg man carries a transgender flag at an event at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square hosted by PFLAG Tampa on Nov. 20.
  10. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s community chart on Feb. 3 shows Florida counties at different COVID-19 risk levels. Green is “low” risk, yellow is “medium” risk and orange is “high” risk.
  11. Protesters held cardboard signs shaped like tombstones in front of the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport in early August 2022 as the Florida Board of Medicine met to discuss a proposed rule to ban transition-related medical treatment for transgender minors. A public hearing on the pending restrictions is set for Feb. 10.
  12. The bodies of a 70-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman were found inside a home in the 1800 block of Stancel Drive in unincorporated Clearwater on Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The two died  “from apparent gunshot wounds,” Sgt. Amanda Sinni, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, told the Times. The man and woman were identified Saturday morning.
  13. The Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse was formed in 2021 after the Parkland grand jury called Florida’s mental health system “a mess.”
  14. Medical workers at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater work to stabilize a COVID-19 patient Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.
  15. The Northside Behavioral Health Center off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Tampa was recently acquired by BayCare Health System.
  16. Moderna and Merck recently announced that an experimental melanoma vaccine from Moderna, when coupled with Merck’s immunotherapy drug Keytruda, showed promising results in a mid-stage clinical trial.
  17. Si las personas se enfocan en asuntos nacionales o globales fuera de su control, se vuelven “más ansiosas, más frustradas, más estresadas”, dijo  Lori Aitken, consejera de salud mental y copropietaria del Centro de Ansiedad de Tampa.
  18. Watching negative news on TV is linked to increases in anxiety and sadness, according to peer-reviewed research.
  19. A state commission is preparing recommendations on how to reform Florida’s mental health care system. Pictured is Florida’s Capitol complex in Tallahassee.
  20. Trabajadores de la salud en el Morton Plant Hospital en Clearwater trabajan para estabilizar a un paciente con COVID-19 el miércoles 25 de agosto de 2021. Los niveles del virus siguen siendo bajos en Tampa Bay, pero los casos están aumentando en todo el estado.
  21. Shoppers brave the crowds to take advantage of Black Friday sales at the Westfield Brandon mall on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 in Brandon. The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and a Tampa psychologist has tips for coping with the busy season.
  22. Health care workers at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater work to stabilize a COVID-19 patient on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. Virus levels remain low in Tampa Bay, but cases are rising statewide.
  23. This 2003 electron microscope image, made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows mature, oval-shaped mpox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right. A global mpox outbreak caused thousands of infections in 2022.