Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Ways to Connect

Frankie Leon

The Florida Department of Health reports a child in Miami-Dade County has come down with a case of measles.
 

According to a release from the health department, the child who came down with measles had not been vaccinated.

The department said public health officials would be notifying people who may have been exposed.

The health department did not say where the child may have traveled before or after getting sick.

The measles virus can hang in the air and continue to be infectious up to two hours after the sick person has left the room.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AP via Miami Herald

  The number of Zika cases in Florida has grown to 188—which includes 38 pregnant women who are being monitored by the state.

So far, all of those cases are travel-related. But public health officials are bracing for local outbreaks.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip was in Fort Lauderdale Thursday to give a presentation on the state’s Zika plans to the Broward legislative delegation.

Philip said that when people get tested for a Zika diagnosis, mosquito control is alerted to where they live—before the test results come back.

Scenes of Grief and Healing in South Florida After Orlando Attack

Jun 13, 2016
Spencer Parts

In the hours and days following the Sunday massacre at a gay club in Orlando, members of South Florida's LGBT community have gathered to mourn and to provide comfort to each other.

Tim Padgett / WLRN

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and local police spent hours  Sunday going through the apartment of the alleged Orlando shooter, Omar Sadduque Mateen, as well as his parents'  house in Fort Pierce. 

A small gaggle of reporters and TV cameras were parked outside the police tape in front of the apartment complex in Fort Pierce where Mateen allegedly lived. The FBI and local police were on the scene, but neither could confirm anything about the investigation.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Mental health care ranks among the most expensive kinds of health care in American medicine—and having a 

mental illness or behavioral disorder can drive up costs for other kinds of care.

But new research suggests that the Affordable Care Act has helped young people with mental illnesses afford health care—especially young blacks and Latinos.

National Institutes of Health

Federal officials are all but certain there will be a Zika outbreak in the continental U.S. this summer.

The mosquito-borne virus continues to spread in Central and South America and the Caribbean. It’s linked to severe birth defects and other serious side effects.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, spoke with WLRN about what this all means for Floridians:

What Floridians can expect:

American Academy of Actuaries / www.actuary.org.

Health News Florida has been reporting that Florida’s health insurance companies are asking for double-digit rate increases.

A new analysis from the American Academy of Actuaries, included in its annual look at drivers of health insurance premiums for next year, has some explanation why. 

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On a Thursday afternoon, 17-year-old Brendon Santana is sitting cross-legged on his bed, cradling a ukulele as he sings Karen O’s Moon Song.

I'm lying on the moon
My dear, I'll be there soon

His bedroom is plastered with Beatles memorabilia and paintings of instruments.

It's a quiet and starry place
Time's we're swallowed up
In space we're here a million miles away

The song is from the soundtrack to the movie Her.

“I love watching romance movies,” says Brendon.

Health Care Cost Institute

Florida kids go to the emergency room more often than kids in the rest of the country—even when they have insurance—according to a new analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute.

The researchers at HCCI analyzed three years of insurance company billing information from Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente to look at trends in how children are receiving health care.

They found that children in Florida and across the country are going to the doctor less often, but when they do it’s getting more expensive.

everydayplus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Health-care prices are complex and in many ways secret—which can affect how much you end up paying for your health care.

But not everyone agrees on what transparency in health-care pricing should look like.

You can listen to a story about what we mean when we talk about transparency here:

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

You are always in someone’s way on the nuclear submarine USS California.

People can only pass in the hall sideways. Head clearance isn't very generous, either. Most of the crew sleep in “racks” of three bunk beds that are hardly ever unoccupied. They call it “hot racking,” where men on different shifts rotate through their precious sleep time.

phasinphoto / freedigitalphotos.net

Ask what something costs in medical care and you could easily come back with a half dozen different answers. Health care costs are complex and often secret.

That’s part of why WLRN, WUSF and Health News Florida are launching PriceCheck, a reporting project aimed at bringing clarity to the cost of health care in Florida.

Listen here for a conversation about just what we mean when we talk about health care costs:

Security camera footage from the Barsotti family via Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald Tribune

Note: This interview was first published in December 2015. Leonora LaPeter Anton and her colleagues were awarded a Pulitzer Prize this week for their investigation.  

phaendin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Florida hospitals continue to have some of the highest Caesarean delivery rates in the country, according to a new analysis out from Consumer Reports.

“People might find differences in nearby hospitals, so they really have to look at a map and at the rates and see what stories the numbers are telling,” said Doris Peter, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases--like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers--are the leading cause of death across the country. They disproportionately affect many minorities and people living in poverty.

This month, Florida is getting a chapter of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. The non-partisan group brings together medical organizations, government agencies, the private sector, health care agencies and others to raise awareness and come up with policies to fight chronic diseases.

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