Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, 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 Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won 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.

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.

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.

First-year medical students start classes at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine this month--and starting with them is Dr. Henri Ford, the new dean at the school who's already breaking ground as the first Haitian leader in the job. 

His connection to UM started 17 years ago, when his sister suffered serious burns after her dress caught fire. She was airlifted from Haiti to Miami, where she spent six weeks in the burn ICU at Jackson Memorial, being cared for by the physicians from UM. Eventually she made a full recovery.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This week on Florida Matters, we hear the story of a recent graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who survived the February mass shooting that killed 17.


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.

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.

Young people’s experiences with mental illness are in the spotlight this weekend as the third annual Reel Minds Miami Mental Health Film Festival returns to the University of Miami on Sunday.

This year’s festival includes a collection of six short films, along with discussions between mental health providers and advocates. The event is sponsored by the Miami chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which works to educate the public and offers free resources to support people affected by mental illness.

Following a rabid raccoon attack, the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County is advising residents to be careful around wild animals.

The raccoon in question scratched and bit a worker in the community of Breakers West last week. The attack was reported to the county. A local trapper caught the animal, which then tested positive for rabies.

The victim of the raccoon attack started a five-shot course of rabies vaccines.

This is the fourth confirmed rabid animal case in Palm Beach County this year.

More Floridians get their health insurance through their jobs than from any other source—about 42 percent of us, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Which, when you start talking about making choices in healthcare, has some interesting implications for your personal health and your financial health.

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