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, national and 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

Sammy Mack / WLRN

There's a bridge in Overtown, under the 836 Expressway, that has long sheltered homeless people, many of whom are addicted to heroin.

Now a public health investigation is looking into a group of new HIV cases there. That’s part of what prompted Miami city commissioners to pass an emergency resolution to close the street two weeks ago.

A couple of sets of barricades block traffic to the area. Cars can't get through, but people are still staying there.

Daniel Murphy / courtesy Kush Hospitality

Florida's $67 billion tourism industry relies on its workforce to provide sunny hospitality, but people who work in the service industry suffer from disproportionately high rates of depression and substance abuse.

This week, a Miami restaurant group wants to start a dialogue about what that means for people who make a career in hospitality.

David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's almost flu season, and young Floridians are not as protected as they should be. According to a new analysis, almost half of Florida's high school students reported they didn't get a flu shot within the past year.

"I would say I'm a bit frustrated," said Dr. Wissam Al Khoury, the lead researcher on the study, Demographic Differences in Flu Vaccination among Florida’s High School Students: Evidence from 2017 Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which he recently presented at a conference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On a recent Friday at Florida Atlantic University, Deb Del Vecchio-Scully began a lecture on trauma by asking an auditorium full of therapists to stand up and shake their bodies out like rag dolls.

"Do it with me," she said, as the room giggled and jiggled.

It was a light moment with a serious purpose. Del Vecchio-Scully explained that this was just one technique the therapists could offer a patient to help deal with the discomfort of traumatic stress.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

As the community around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prepares to go back to school, the Florida Counseling Association is hosting a free, two-day workshop focused on responding to communal trauma. The Friday event is tailored for mental health professionals, while the Saturday event is open exclusively to MSD staff.

freedigitalphotos.net

How teenagers envision their futures may have a big influence on whether they threaten or injure someone with a weapon, according to a new research in JAMA Pediatrics. The findings have implications for the health of teens in places struggling to prevent youth violence.

The research began with an observation by Dr. Alison Culyba, an adolescent medicine physician and epidemiologist at the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh. She’d seen studies on the risk factors that lead to a kid experiencing violence and later, poor health.

CDC.gov

South Florida continues to have the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses in the country, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

On average, for every hundred thousand Americans, about 15 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2016, the most recent year of data analyzed by the CDC.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

When families don’t know where their next meal will come from, it can be especially hard on young children. A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows that 5-year-olds who experience food insecurity are more likely than other kids to have behavior problems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most Floridians knew about the Zika virus and how it spread—but that wasn't enough to get them to protect themselves, according to a new study in the journal Risk Analysis.

As the Zika virus emerged in the United States two summers ago, researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 12,000 Americans. They asked people what they knew about Zika, and how they were reacting to it.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

A timeline along the wall of the Historic Lyric Theater's current exhibit, on Miami's black health care history, looks like an EKG. The first beat of it, beginning in 1896, belongs to the city's first black doctor, Dr. Rivers.

"It starts with Dr. Rivers and we still haven't gotten his first name yet," says Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, founder of the Black Archives and chair of the committee that assembled pieces for the show, The Evolution of Black Health Care In Miami-Dade County From 1896-2018, In Parallel With Jackson Memorial Hospital's Evolution.

Ryan McBride / Courtesy of the Boston Herald

Every high school graduation is a triumph in its own way — a mix of beginnings and endings.

And there’s another story that now belongs to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School class of 2018: the journey that comes after tragedy.

The former head of the Miss Venezuela contest—who had ties to pageant-style television programming in Miami—has been accused of pimping out pageant contestants.

Osmel Sousa ran the Miss Venezuela pageant for nearly four decades. But he stepped down in February.

stockdevil / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dr. Ralph Sacco has his own way of thinking about time:

“Time is brain,” says Sacco, a neurologist at the University of Miami and chair of a registry that collects hospital data on what happens to stroke patients in Florida and Puerto Rico.

During a stroke, he says, “every minute, millions of brain cells die and we can't salvage them. You need to get urgent attention ... you need to get to a stroke center.”

For most strokes, the window for treatment is six hours. Depending on the kind of stroke, treatment can be effective within 24 hours.

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