December 5, 2022
Doctors expect a bad flu season. What Floridians need to know.

Florida Trend Health Care

Doctors expect a bad flu season. What Floridians need to know.

| 10/18/2022

Doctors expect a bad flu season. What Floridians need to know.

Florida may face high levels of the flu this winter with COVID-19 precautions largely abandoned. Influenza cases flatlined in the state during the 2020-2021 season thanks to pandemic safety measures like masking and social distancing. Infections were also lower than usual last winter, but spiked during the springtime this year. Experts worry that a severe flu season coupled with COVID-19 will overwhelm hospitals that are already grappling with a shortage of nurses. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Health agency wants to increase lawyers’ pay to quash high turnover rates

The state’s largest health care agency is facing a legal crisis. And it’s not the result of any lawsuit. The Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) legislative budget request for state Fiscal Year 2023-24 paints a dire picture of its Office of the General Counsel, as well as the Medicaid Fair Hearings Unit within the office, with high turnover rates for lawyers working in either position. Fifty-eight lawyers have resigned from the agency since 2016, and there are 13 open positions in the agency’s Office of the General Counsel, according to the legislative budget request. [Source: Florida Politics]

About a third of people call doctors by their first names, a new study shows

About a third of people call their doctors by their first names, a new study shows. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic analyzed about 90,000 messages between 1,092 doctors and nearly 15,000 of their patients. Women doctors were twice as likely than their male counterparts to be called by their first names, and osteopathic doctors were twice as likely to be called by their first names than doctors with M.D. degrees. Additionally, primary care physicians were 50% more likely to be referred to by their first names than specialty doctors. [Source: Health News Florida]

Judges reject a protective order for Florida's health department in COVID data case

A three-judge panel of the 1st Districat Court of Appeal on Wednesday rejected an attempt by the Florida Department of Health to prevent a deposition in a case about providing COVID-19 data. The Florida Center for Government Accountability and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, filed the lawsuit in August 2021, alleging that the department violated the state’s public-records law by turning down requests for daily COVID-19 data. The lawsuit was later joined by several media organizations. The data, in part, would provide county and demographic information about COVID-19 cases. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida’s efforts to protect nursing home residents from Hurricane Ian may have worked

As the death toll for Hurricane Ian continues to climb, it’s clear that the Category 4 storm hit older Floridians particularly hard. Of the roughly 120 people known to have been killed, more than half are confirmed to have been age 60 or older. But none of the dead identified so far were nursing home residents, suggesting a potentially effective emergency response by facilities that have come under fire for their response to COVID-19, which killed many thousands within their walls. [Source: AARP]


› Palm Beach school board calls on FHSAA to stop asking students for health info
Palm Beach County school board members are calling on the Florida High School Activities Association to stop making students disclose personal medical information. The practice has prompted outcry from parents and advocates who say students’ health privacy could be violated at a time when breaches of personal medical records could carry grave consequences after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June ended federal protections for abortions.

› How one health clinic is breaking down barriers to care in Black communities
When people tell Dr. Lisa Merritt they don’t trust doctors, she says it’s “heartbreaking”. “I have to laugh and look at them and say, ‘you’re going to tell me that, and I’m a doctor,’” said Merritt, the founder and executive director of the Multicultural Health Institute in Sarasota. “But they feel comfortable, to be honest with me, because that’s how people really feel.” At the Multicultural Health Institute in Sarasota, Dr. Lisa Merritt treats patients, of course. She also inspires a new generation to think big when it comes to public health.

› Florida Blue, Sanitas Medical Center partner on primary care clinics
Sanitas Medical Center will open four new Tallahassee locations to serve Florida Blue members, the insurer said Oct. 14. Two of the locations will also include on-site Florida Blue consultants who can answer questions about coverage. These consultants are available to anyone in the community, according to a news release. The Sanitas locations will also serve self-pay patients and traditional Medicare members.

› Simply Healthcare earns national health equity accreditations
Tammy MacDonald, Staff Vice President for Accreditation and Quality Programs for Elevance Health, says health equity efforts are intentionally designed. They use clinical and social data to better understand the social determinants of health care to make sure all communities are served. Elevance, owner of Simply Healthcare Plans Florida, was one of nine companies nationwide and the only one operating in Florida to earn the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) Health Equity and Health Equity Plus accreditations last month.

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