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Times' series on patient deaths at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital wins top award

Tampa Bay Times deputy investigations editor Kathleen McGrory and investigative reporter Neil Bedi have won first place in the Division II print/online competition held by Investigative Reporters and Editors for their stories last year on the deaths of at least 11 children at the Heart Institute inside Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. [Times]
Published Apr. 9

Tampa Bay Times deputy investigations editor Kathleen McGrory and investigative reporter Neil Bedi have won another of journalism's top honors for their stories on problems at the Heart Institute inside Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital that resulted in the deaths of at least 11 children.

Their series "Heartbroken" tied for first place in the Division II print/online competition held by Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. The organization announced the awards Tuesday.

PRIOR COVERAGE: Despite warnings, All Childrens kept operating.

The other first-place winner was the Dallas Morning News for a series called "Pain & Profit" that focused on how health care companies made billions while systematically denying life-sustaining drugs and treatments to thousands of sick children as well as the elderly and disabled.

This marks the second national award for the Times series. In February, it won the George Polk Award for local reporting.

Prior coverage: Times investigative series wins Polk Award.

The Times' year-long investigation — directed by Adam Playford, who oversees investigative reporting at the Times' — led to the resignations of six top officials of the St. Petersburg hospital. It also prompted an investigation by federal regulators, who identified serious safety problems and threatened to withhold funding if the issues were not immediately addressed.

"This recognition means a great deal because it is awarded by peers in the investigative reporting and editing community," said Mark Katches, the Times' executive editor. "It's a great honor for Kat, Neil, Adam and the team behind this project. That said, we don't do stories like this to win awards. It's about serving our community the best we can. This is a project that will contribute to saving lives."

Johns Hopkins, which is based in Baltimore, is one of the nation's top hospitals. It took control of All Children's in 2011, and officials said then that their goal was to make it among the best in the nation.

Instead, McGrory and Bedi discovered that no Florida hospital had a worse record for children's heart surgeries in 2017.

They found that the problems had begun to surface in 2015 — sutures burst, more children picked up infections and doctors lost track of needles in young patients' chests. Surgeons were sometimes reluctant to admit their errors, too.

Federal investigators who visited the hospital after reading the Times' series declared the hospital had put patients in "immediate jeopardy" of harm.

McGrory, 35, 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 before joining the Times as a reporter in 2015.

Bedi, 25, joined the newspaper in 2016 as a data reporter. Previously, he was a technology analyst at JPMorgan Chase in New York.

Contact Craig Pittman at craig@tampabay.com. Follow @craigtimes.

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