Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN. 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

David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A particularly bad flu virus is burning through Florida and health officials say people can still protect themselves—and others.

“Getting vaccinated can prevent flu in yourself, but it also may prevent flu in people who you are not infecting,” says Dr. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Especially for young children or people who are at high risk of flu, it's very important that people around them are vaccinated.”

Marsha Halper / WLRN

Sammie Willis was a talker. He held court from his wheelchair—the man was a fixture at the gate to his small, cinder block apartment complex in Overtown—and talked to his neighbors, to the parents walking their kids to school, to the young men who cycled through this block. He greeted them all with a booming voice that resonated down the street. He talked to them about their families. About God. About love. About the hard things in life.

 

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On a recent Tuesday morning, Emy Martinez walked around a couple of blocks in Overtown, looking for used needles to deposit in the sharps container in her backpack.

She didn’t find any. 

Sammy Mack / WLRN

There is a card in Joost Sajet’s wallet that looks like any other health insurance card—plan name, policyholder, group number, a hotline number for providers—but what Sajet presents to his doctors is not normal insurance.

 

That’s because Sajet is fed up with normal insurance.

Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Florida is looking to make major changes to Children’s Medical Services, the state-run health care program for children with complex medical needs.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A little turkey trivia for this Thanksgiving season: Did you know this state is home to a type of wild turkey that can only be found in the peninsula of Florida?

David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Floridians have until Dec. 15 to buy health insurance through healthcare.gov, and a lot has happened since the last shopping season.

Multiple attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” have failed. Now there’s a proposal to dismantle the health care law through the tax bill. President Donald Trump has already stopped funding some pieces of the Affordable Care Act.

So where does that leave the average consumer?

courtesy University of Miami

Time is one of the biggest factors in treating strokes — and a group of South Florida researchers say they’ve found a way to buy stroke patients more time.

If a person has a stroke, the sooner they get treatment, the better their odds are of surviving and of healing without permanent disability. Generally, the thinking has been that patients have a window of no more than six hours for a clot-removal surgery to be effective.

But people don’t always know when they’ve had a stroke — like if it happens while they’re sleeping. And that complicates treatment options. 

Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s been a month since the deadly shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, and a group of trauma researchers is calling for better attention to the health impacts of firearms.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has co-signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to send more support to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Health-care funding was already tight before the storms, particularly in financially unstable Puerto Rico, where nearly half the population is covered by Medicaid.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

A team of researchers has prevented Zika virus infection in monkeys —and they hope the new approach can be developed for use in pregnant women.

The small experimental trial found that monkeys given a cocktail of known Zika antibodies—special proteins the immune system makes to stop a virus—did not develop Zika after they were exposed to the virus.

The Weather Channel

Weather Channel meteorologist Bryan Norcross has a reputation as the reasoned voice that guided South Florida through the lowest moments of Hurricane Andrew.

And now, he’s trying to help South Florida prepare to survive Hurricane Irma.

Norcross spent an hour on WLRN’s Topical Currents Thursday giving solid advice and answering questions from listeners. You can hear the discussion below:

Some of the major takeaways:

Sammy Mack / WLRN News

There are more than 4 million children in Florida and Dr. Jeffrey Brosco just became responsible for them.

Brosco is a pediatrician at the University of Miami and a bioethicist with Jackson Memorial Hospital. And as Florida’s new deputy secretary for Children’s Medical Services, he now oversees everything from Florida’s poison control hotline to a state-run insurance program for extremely sick children.

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