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

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission

Day two of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission hearings began with an examination of the blueprints of the school—a breakdown of whether architecture and building materials were a factor in the February massacre of 17 people there—and ended with public anger at the more disturbing examination of how Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies remained away from the school that day instead of moving toward the shooting.

tiramisustudio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A pair of redistricting proposals in Broward County have passed.

The proposed changes to the Broward County Charter were modeled on the state's fair districting standards.

The first change explicitly says districts can't be drawn to help or hurt a party, or single out minority groups.

The second change is aimed at making the redistricting process more transparent. It requires the process be overseen by an accredited college or university--as opposed to a private consultant.

Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

South Florida's green spaces got some serious green from voters Tuesday.

A half dozen municipalities across South Florida asked voters to weigh in on bond items that would help pay for parks and recreation initiatives. The projects involved everything from improving lighting and walkways to creating entirely new parks.

With little exception, the cities that asked for bonds to fund parks and rec, got them. And there were a lot of places asking:

Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

South Florida voters passed a series of tax increases on their ballots.

Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties asked for tax hikes to pay for public institutions and services. All of them got them:

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On Tuesday, Floridians chose to permanently ban offshore drilling and workplace vaping—two proposals bundled together under the statewide ballot item, Amendment 9.

As WLRN previously reported, the odd pairing was part of a controversial process:

duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Miami residents voted not to give a raise and some new authority to City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

When Suarez was sworn in as City of Miami mayor, the job did not come with nearly the power he wanted. The city had a "weak" mayor system--meaning the mayor didn't have hiring or firing powers and was limited in authority over the day-to-day operations of the city.

So Suarez lead a petition drive to reorganize city government in a way that gave more personnel and budget decisions to the mayor.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Buried deep in the War-and-Peace-length tome that is this November's Florida ballot, voters will find a question asking if a ban on offshore drilling and a ban on vaping should be codified in the state constitution.

Yup, Amendment 9 is the bundled amendment bringing together e-cigarettes and oil rigs.

In its own words:

NO. 9

CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION

Article II, Section 7

Article X, Section 20

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.

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