Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Sammy 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, Kaiser Health News, 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 Third Coast Best News Feature AwardGreen 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.

You can find her on Twitter @sammymack.

Ways to Connect

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When Dr. Bobby Zervos offers transplant patients the option to accept an organ with hepatitis C, he's prepared for some surprised reactions. 

"Some patients and family members look at us like, are we crazy? Did we not get a full night's sleep the night before?" said Zervos, the associate chair of the abdominal transplant center at Cleveland Clinic Florida.

FPREN

This post was updated at 5:15 p.m. to include new shelter openings.

Evacuation orders have been issued for swaths of Palm Beach County. Shelters are now opening up. Here is a lightly edited update of the county guidelines regarding who should evacuate and where they should go:

Mandatory evacuations are being ordered for residential structures in Zone A and Zone B in Palm Beach County, effective at 1 P.M. Sunday, September 1, 2019. The Palm Beach County Emergency Information Center number is 561-712-6400.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

The Broward County Crime Commission held its third annual conference addressing societal violence in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.

The conference—provocatively called "Society Gone Mad"—offered a series of panels reflecting the more violent themes in our current news cycle: workplace homicide and assault, shootings at places of worship, intimate partner violence, sex trafficking of children, road rage and more. Local experts were asked to identify underlying causes of these crimes, and opportunities to prevent them.

Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, and Austin Athman / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

South Florida researchers believe they're one step closer to developing a more effective vaccine against HIV, after overcoming a virus that infects monkeys.

Nicknamed the "Death Star," SIVmac239 is a particularly resilient immunodeficiency virus that features the same obstacles that have vexed HIV vaccine researchers over the years: the outer layers around the viruses mutate quickly. It's like the immune system is trying to track a shapeshifter—a defense against the viruses works, and then it doesn't.

Everydayplus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The state of Florida recently passed a bill that gives most victims of crimes three years to get help paying for recovery and support services—like mental health care to identify and treat trauma related to the crime.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

DISCLOSURE: The authors and editors of this article are employees of South Florida Public Media, the nonprofit that operates WLRN News.

The Miami-Dade County school district has opened the bidding process for entities that could manage WLRN public radio and television stations.

Melody Thelwell, chief procurement officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, led a meeting Monday to present a nonbinding request for proposal (RFP), which begins the process for organizations and companies to place bids.

There's a green van parked on the edge of downtown Miami on a corner shadowed by overpasses. The van is a mobile health clinic and syringe exchange where people who inject drugs like heroin and fentanyl can swap dirty needles for fresh ones.

One of the clinic's regular visitors, a man with heavy black arrows tattooed on his arms, waits on the sidewalk to get clean needles.

"I'm Arrow," he says, introducing himself. "Pleasure."

Sammy Mack / WLRN News

Florida counties can now authorize needle exchanges, after a bill aimed at reducing HIV and hepatitis C was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

anankkml / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hurricane season officially kicks off June 1, which means it's time to review emergency plans. And for South Florida residents with medical needs, that can involve extra work to ensure a spot on county lists for emergency evacuation assistance.

Florida counties maintain special needs registries for emergency situations. During hurricanes, people who have pre-registered on these lists are eligible for priority evacuation help and medical shelters—depending on their level of need.

Katie Lepri / WLRN

We'd like to take a second to talk to you about poop.

Yeah, that's right.

Poop.

USDA.gov

The Florida Department of Health says a food service worker at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens tested positive for hepatitis A. Customers who ate or drank there may have been exposed to the virus between May 1 and May 12.

DOH is encouraging diners who were at the restaurant between May 9 and May 12 to talk to a doctor and get a hepatitis A vaccine--it can be effective up to two weeks after exposure.

More from the DOH press release:

Sammy Mack / WLRN

The state legislative session is over and the fate of a bill that would allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida is now up to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among injection drug users.

The bill passed 111-3 in the Florida House and unanimously in the Florida Senate.

Hansel Tookes

The Florida Legislature has approved a bill that will allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill—which passed a house vote on Wednesday and has already passed in the Florida Senate—creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among intravenous drug users.

Courtesy Pedro Neves Marques and Galleria Umberto di Marino / PAMM

In a dark gallery at the Perez Art Museum Miami, two screens on opposite sides of the room play a pair of films on an alternating loop—one follows scientists working in a lab to create genetically modified mosquitoes, the other is a portrait of a polyamorous relationship that unfolds under the canopy of a Brazilian jungle.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

April is national poetry month and the O, Miami poetry festival wants to reach every resident of Dade County with a poem—including a group of South Florida students with severe disabilities.

WLRN went to one of the O, Miami-sponsored poetry workshops at the Brucie Ball Educational Center and has this audio postcard from the young poets:

"I'm hoping to give them an entryway into the genre and into self-expression and eventually self advocacy," says Donald Welch, who helped run the workshop for the kids at Brucie Ball.

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