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USF Health gets $2M federal grant to improve geriatric care curriculum

Healthcare services for older adults in the Tampa Bay area received a big boost in funding during August 2015: $2.24 million in federal grant dollars.

The University of South Florida is one of only two awardees in Florida and 44 groups across the nation to receive a portion of the $35 million disbursed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.

The three-year grant, awarded to USF Health in partnership with Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC), will fund inter-professional training and curriculum for students entering health professions with the overall aim of improving care for older adults.

The bulk of the grant’s support goes toward encouraging inter-professional geriatrics education and training among USF Health faculty and TFHC health care professionals. TFHC and USF Health faculty will work together to create a custom, tailored geriatrics curriculum for incoming USF medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students, as well as current residents and fellows specializing in geriatric care. Students will also spend a rotation at TFHC for clinical training under faculty supervision.

More than 2,000 students will take the new, geriatric-driven curriculum.

“Florida does not have an adequate workforce to support the state's growing geriatric population,” says Dr. Rita D’Aoust, associate professor and associate Dean of academic affairs and inter-professional initiatives in the USF College of Nursing. “USF Health has tremendous potential to address geriatric workforce needs in our community and, ultimately, to transform geriatric care in our region.”

USF Health is a partnership of the USF Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the USF Physician’s Group.

TFHC, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), services underrepresented communities at 15 clinics across Hillsborough County. The center offers medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health outpatient services to children and adults.

Federally qualified health centers “play an important role in providing primary care to underserved populations,” D’Acoust says, noting that around 80 percent of TFHC’s 6,000 patients ages 60 and over had an income below the federal poverty line in 2014. Common health complaints included obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

By taking on “the issue of building a resilient, trained geriatric workforce,” USF Health and TFHC aim to make geriatrics a primary focus in Florida’s FQHC primary care clinics, D’Aoust says. Together with the USF Byrd Alzheimer's Institute (BAI) and TFHC, USF Health aims to “embed geriatric primary care and related services into the FQHC and the training curricula of USF.”

In addition, the USF Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project will support three community-based organizations that provide long term care services or support for elders: Senior Connections, Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services and the Health Services Advisory Group. 

“The GWEP award will be a powerful catalyst to transform USF Health and revitalize student and resident interest in geriatric care,” D’Aoust says.                                                                                                                           

CourseDrive app brings mobile tech to golfers, country clubs

Imagine standing on the green at your favorite golf course in the Tampa Bay area, or elsewhere in the country, when heavy, dark storm clouds begin to roll in. By the time the clouds clear and the rain stops falling, the course – and clubhouse – is long empty.

What if there was a quick, convenient way for the club to send a message to golfers, enticing them to head back out by, say, lowering cart fees to half off for the rest of the day?

CourseDriver, a mobile application for golfers and clubs, evolved from co-Founder Gabriel Aluisy’s “passion for connecting golfers to golf clubs and creating a better experience for both parties.”

“Golfers are craving more technology to enhance their rounds and interact with the club. Clubs are looking to attract younger members as well as show existing members and guests that they are improving and innovating,” says Aluisy, a golfer himself. “Our app facilitates this.”

Acccording to Aluisy, CourseDriver creates “that immediate connection” between a golf club and its members.

Aluisy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from American University in Washington, D.C, is also the Founder of Tampa-based advertising agency Shake Creative. Advertising is an important aspect of the app; in-app instant messaging functionality is what makes it most attractive to clubs, Aluisy says.

“Clubs using our app have the ability to reach back out and communicate to anyone who has ever played a round at their course and downloaded the app,” he explains. “As long as our app is on a player's phone, the club is in the pocket of their target market to initiate a conversation or send a marketing message.” 

The app, which is free for the players to download, features the instant messaging function, along with features that golfers might need during a round, such as GPS distance tracking, score tracking, live satellite weather, round history and upcoming tournaments. Players can even order food and drink from the club via the app.

CourseDriver launched in April 2015 at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in St. Petersburg, and in August expanded to Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club in Stuart, on Florida’s east coast. After a stint in beta mode, the app will be available nationwide.

Aluisy developed the idea for CourseDriver into an app along with Gary Teaney, a business consultant with Transformational Consulting for Business.

“We brainstormed a feature set that would remedy the pain points my clients in the private club industry had,” Aluisy says. “They were losing members and had trouble attracting younger folks to the game. This was my solution.” 

Aluisy hopes to see the app in 200 clubs by the end of 2016. As the platform expands, he anticipates hiring locally in the Tampa Bay area for a sales team, developers, and designers.

To learn more about CourseDriver or request a demo, visit the website.

Moffitt develops genetic test for pancreatic cancer

For the nearly 50,000 people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, there is hope on the horizon when it comes to treatment of this deadly disease. Moffitt Cancer researchers have developed a genetic test that can predict which pancreatic cancer patients will benefit from surgery.

"There is an unmet need to develop a reliable test, which will better predict prognosis for patients with early pancreatic cancer and thereby allow for personalized treatment,” says Dung-Tsa Chen, Ph.D. and senior member of the biostatistics and bioinformatics department at Moffitt.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the high mortality rate is attributed to lack of effective diagnostic and prognostic tests.

“We found through our research that the patients who survive long-term may have a different genetic makeup, and so we looked at what we call the signatures of those genes, and compared them to those who didn’t do so well,” says Mokenge Malafa, M.D., F.A.C.S., department chair and program leader for Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program. “Dr. Chen did his statistical magic and he was able to match from a pool of genes, which patients would do well and which would not.”

Malafa goes on to say that with this information, he as a surgeon, can do a genetic test early on before doing surgery and if the patient is not a good candidate for surgery, they can look at other treatment options.

The study, which was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute Pilot Research Awards in Personalized Medicine, was published in the PLoS One journal.

Malafa says the next step and research project in the fight against pancreatic cancer is a blood test that would catch cancer early on.

“From very little tissue samples, we could really perfect the signature where we could tailor the patient’s treatment based on this signature,” he says.  “Another option would be to use the information we have on genes, and how they affect the behavior of the tumors, we may be able to find a specific drug and target or intervene early on. In the future, we will find ways to make the outcome for these patients not so dismal.”

Florida Farm Bureau offers grants to local schools for agriculture, gardening projects

Florida's teachers have an opportunity to grow their classroom budgets this school year by snagging one of dozens of mini-grants from the Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF) -- but they'd better hurry to beat the Sept 15 application deadline.

The organization is awarding $9,500 in grant money for creative school projects that teach students from Pre-K through high school about the importance of one of the state's top industries.

Core academic subjects like math, English and science are essential to agriculture, and the grants are meant to encourage teachers to incorporate it into their curriculum, says Michael Rogalsky, Field Services Director for the Federation.

"The idea is to familiarize children with where their food comes from," says Debra Jones, Rogalsky's assistant.

Teachers are asked to think outside the box, and the Farm Bureau will kick in up to $250 to help fund each project chosen.

Last year, 57 Florida teachers received grant funding for agricultural projects ranging from schoolyard gardens, to projects involving honeybees, fish and quail eggs, says Jones.

Pizza gardens, where students grow the ingredients needed to make pizzas they prepare for the class, are especially popular, she adds.

Last year, many of the schools in the FFBF's District 5 -- which includes Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and other Central Florida counties -- opted to grow hydroponic gardens.

Among them: a class at Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa, 4th and 5th graders in the gifted program at Valleyview Elementary in Lakeland and Plant City High.  

Jones says she was surprised to discover that only five schools in District 5 have applied for a grant for the 2015-2016 school  year, and she encourages teachers to make the most of the opportunity.

The mini-grant program is part of the Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee’s push to support agricultural education in the state's classrooms, and recipients will be selected by the committee.

But the funding doesn't stop there, says Jones.

"A lot of our county farm bureaus will pick up the ones we don't fund, just to get gardening back in the classroom."

Grant applications are due Sept. 15. Winners will be notified by Nov. 15 via email. Teachers can apply for the grant by visiting the Florida Farm Bureau Federation website.

Celebrating the art of storytelling in Tampa Bay

Stories told through dance, photography, song, documentary and theater performances will be celebrated at the second annual Story Days in Tampa Bay from Sept. 8-12.

Presented by Your Real Stories, a nonprofit organization headed by co-artistic directors Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon, Story Days offers an “opportunity for people to tell and hear stories in all kinds of ways,” says Dunlap.

An affiliate member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and CEO of Communication Research Enterprises, Dunlap says, “Stories have an ability to cut across previously impenetrable barriers and divisions to reach people. They have a magical power.” 

Another one of Dunlap and Sheldon’s ongoing projects is St. Pete Stories featured earlier in 83 Degrees.  

The featured event at this year’s Story Days in Tampa Bay is the screening of a powerful documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China

The film will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg on Sept. 9 and at the University of South Florida School of Music Concert Hall on Sept. 10. In the documentary, Paula Madison, former GM and President of KNBC in Los Angeles and former news Director and VP for diversity at NBC in New York, recounts her search for her ancestry, which she traces back to Jamaica and before that, China, where her family’s tree goes back 3,000 years – 153 generations.

Several of her Chinese family members live in Tampa.  

“I’ve known Paula since the 1990s and she has wanted to tell her family’s story for many years,” says Dunlap.

Madison’s narrative begins with the story of her grandfather, Samuel Lowe, a Chinese laborer who immigrated to Jamaica in 1905. He fathered several children and then returned to China decades later. Madison’s mother, who was his oldest child, was three years old when he left. She never saw him again and always felt the loss.  

After retiring from NBC in 2011, Madison decided to begin the search for her grandfather, eventually finding her ancestral village in Shenzen, China. She reunited with hundreds of relatives who had not known about the existence of their extended family in the U.S.

Additional storytelling events during Story Days include an opening night reception on September 8 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum www.woodsonmuseum.org in St. Petersburg. The museum will host a photography exhibition titled: My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work. 

Both archival photos and original portraits by Tampa Bay Times Director of Photography Boyzell Hosey will document the life of local domestic day workers – the African-American maids – and the white families that employed them during the time period from the 1930s through the 1970s.  

Photography and storytelling will also be highlighted at The Florida Holocaust Museum through another archival photography exhibition, This Light of Ours:  Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. That exhibit will be on display Sept. 8 through Dec. 1.

The power of storytelling through dance will be showcased in I Remember the Days. USF graduate Vanessa Vargas has choreographed two dance movements, one based on her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and the other on the grief she experienced after the death of her fiancée.

For a little lighter fare, a evening of Reggae and Stories will take place at the landmark Chattaways Restaurant in South St. Petersburg, and Bicycle Stories, sponsored by Shift StPete, a nonprofit advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, invites the public to share personal stories about the joys of bike riding, including learning to ride a bike and favorite bike trips. 

For those interested in telling their own stories, Dunlap and Sheldon have invited digital media expert Andrew Thornhill to discuss the art of digital storytelling and the steps required for success.  He offers two presentations at the Poynter Institute and the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications in Tampa.

Local storytelling expert, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, will present a workshop offering tips on who to write your own memoir.

For more information about Story Days, including where to purchase tickets, send an email here, call 727-432-1602 or go to the Your Real Stories website.

Tampa exhibit features photos of sealife, oceans

Something fishy is going on in downtown Tampa.  

Marvels of the Reef opens Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA). The exhibit was produced in collaboration with the Florida Aquarium and runs through the end of the year. 

The collection, which showcases “mysteries of the sea” by seven international photographers whose work has appeared in National Geographic, is also intended to highlight the importance of environmental protection and environmental studies, a theme of relevance to the Tampa Bay community. 

“We are surrounded by water, which is important for every aspect of day-to-day life, [yet] it can be overlooked how important our bay is in Tampa,” says FMoPA executive director Zora Carrier. The exhibit, she says, “places the viewer at the scene of interaction; the images emphasize the spectacles of deep sea life and appreciation for aquatic nature.”   

“It’s an honor to partner with the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts on this exhibit,” Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium said in a press release. “Through this exhibit, our community has yet another way to revel in the beauty of the ocean and hopefully become inspired to protect this very important asset.” 

A portion of the show’s proceeds will go toward the Florida Aquarium’s conservation efforts including the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.

About a five-minute drive from the Aquarium in the Channel District, The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, is located inside the Cube next to the Sykes building in the waterfront arts district in downtown Tampa. It is one of fewer than 10 museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography and one of two such museums in Florida.

Carrier says the two museums are working on putting together a weekend to give free admission to members of the opposite organization. 

Johnson & Johnson brings 500 Jobs, $23.5M investment to Tampa

Johnson & Johnson, the company best known for its baby products and Band-aids, is coming to Tampa in a big way.

By 2016, the company plans to open its North American shared services headquarters, a multi-functional center designed to consolidate and coordinate finance, human resources, IT and procurement for its operating divisions.

So what does this mean for the Tampa Bay area? Higher-paying jobs, and lots of them, 500 over the next three years, according to a statement by Florida Governor Rick Scott. 

Johnson & Johnson already has offices around the state, so it's familiar with the business climate and ready to recruit, says Ernie Knewitz, VP for Global Media Relations.

“We currently have a strong presence in Florida with businesses in Jacksonville, South Florida and other locations, and this will build upon the success we have achieved in the state,” he says. “Tampa has many attractive attributes, including the strong talent pool in the area, which will help us staff and grow our operation here.”

The company will also make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the Tampa region.

With plans to have the shared services center fully operational by mid-2016, Knewitz says hiring for positions related to finance, HR, IT and procurement are imminent. 

“We anticipate being able to begin the hiring process soon,” he says. “People can search for jobs at Johnson & Johnson's career site.”

Johnson & Johnson joins an increasing number of global companies that have decided to locate or expand operations in Tampa and Hillsborough County, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Covidien, Amazon and Ashley Furniture Industries.

Johnson & Johnson's North American shared services headquarters will be located at the Hidden River Corporate Center One Building at 8800 Grand Oak Circle in Tampa.

Team beer challenge at St. Pete Shuffle to benefit Florida's waterways

Sip freshly poured beer, say hello to a new friend or neighbor, and support local Florida waterways during the Great Beer Challenge on August 29 in St. Petersburg. Do all of this while teams of four compete in a shuffleboard showdown at the world’s largest and oldest shuffleboard court – St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, which opened in 1924.

The inaugural Great Beer Challenge, sponsored by Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Company, will feature craft beer from the brewery, an array of games, and the opportunity to meet other locals.

Chris Favaloro, one of the event’s organizers, says that staging the special event at St. Pete Shuffle “was an easy choice. The City of St Pete is exploding and the community is friendly, strong and together.”

That sense of community, combined with the talking point distinction of being the oldest and largest shuffleboard court in the world, makes the group "happy to be there," Favarolo says. "With our enthusiasm for craft beer and meeting new people, we saw this as an opportunity to introduce something exciting and reinvent the weekend events that Tampa Bay loves." 

Other, similar events “are typically places where you go with your friends to have a few drinks, try some food and go home. You never end up meeting someone new," Favaloro explains. But during the Great Beer Challenge, Favaloro says that event organizers hope to see new friendships form.

To help ease participants into working together or mingling, Favaloro says that event organizers will employ an array of “social ice-breakers to encourage meeting new people outside of your team.” 

The Great Beer Challenge is anticipated to bring out between 40-60 teams of four, giving locals the opportunity to meet and mingle with around 150-250 participants. For $30 in advance or $45 at the door, challengers in the event can score commemorative swag from local sponsors or vendors; enjoy games like cornhole, flipcup, and, of course, shuffleboard; or simply attend the event as a spectator (tickets are $20).

A limited amount of teams can participate in the shuffleboard events, so head over to the event website to learn more or sign up. Groups of four who register together will save $10. Don’t have a team of four? No problem; event organizers will assign you to a group.

"Our event is focused around meeting new people and having fun,” Favaloro says.

When it came to selecting an event sponsor, “we have done our due diligence,” he explains. “Sweetwater Brewing Company was born with the same mission in mind: to connect good people with good beer.”

Another one of the reasons that the group called upon Sweetwater Brewing Company to sponsor the Great Beer Challenge is the beer brewery’s connection to the Sarasota-based nonprofit group Suncoast Waterkeeper.

Suncoast Waterkeeper “focuses on protecting and restoring the Florida Suncoast’s waterways,” Favaloro explains. “We love this and support this.”

Five dollars from each ticket sale will be donated to the organization.

The Great Beer Challenge will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, August 29, at St. Pete Shuffle, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N in DTSP. To purchase participant or spectator tickets, visit the event website.

“The goal of the Great Beer Challenge is to introduce a new type of social event to Tampa Bay,” Favaloro says.

HART CEO earns White House recognition as innovator in transit

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) has a slogan: Driven to Serve You.

The public transportation authority serving Hillsborough County is currently experiencing record numbers of riders, expanding the TECO streetcar line, employing innovative technology and enabling young professionals to go carless.

Now HART CEO Katharine Eagan is garnering national attention for HART with her nomination for the White House "Champion of Change" program as an innovator in transportation for the future.

Eagan is recognized in the category "Beyond Traffic: Innovators in Transportation." The U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House Office of Public Engagement will host the winning White House “Champions of Change” focused on this category at an event on October 13, 2015; selected individuals will be notified in late September.

For consideration, individuals must have shown outstanding leadership in transportation and innovation in developing and implementing strategies for enhancing transit systems for the future.  

Eagan credits “the hard work of our entire team” at HART for the recognition.

“As a team, we are incredibly proud that our efforts to be a change agent and a transportation agency of choice have been noticed on a national scale,” she says. “Personally, I’m honored to be considered, and excited to build on this momentum as we keep moving forward.”

One of the drivers behind Eagan’s nomination: technology. HART is pursuing updated fare technology for eight Tampa Bay area counties, Eagan says.

If implemented, Hillsborough, Citrus, Hernando, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties would utilize the same fare technology – including “smart cards and bus passes that you purchase from and scan on your phone,” Eagan explains. 

HART, which was founded in 1980, will also be the first transit agency in the state to be ISO 14001 certified, Eagan says, “which draws environmental stewardship and sensitivity into all aspects of how we deliver service.”

Eagan credits HART’s innovation in tech and transit to necessity: “We don’t have the time to wait! Like many public agencies, we shrank our administrative staff during the recession, but technology kept evolving and new challenges arose in transit and transportation.”

Business as usual, Eagan says, wasn’t cutting it. “So what would?”

Solutions like a low-cost semester pass for Hillsborough Community College students “made transit more affordable and didn’t require a special fee,” Eagan explains. “That’s been a very popular innovation.”

Another example of change: HART’s newly revamped website.

One of the first agencies to use real-time bus arrival tool OneBusAway, HART has also developed partnerships with MegaBus and RedCoach to bring more routes to downtown Tampa from across the state; additionally, the MegaBus Orlando-Tampa route will expand to include Burnett Park and Ride in eastern Hillsborough County.

HART routes include fixed and express bus service, as well customized services like HARTplus, which offers door-to-door paratransit in vans, and HARTflex, a neighborhood connector route. The agency is seeking partnerships with taxis to make these services even more viable, Eagan says.

A partnership with “private transit providers [including private cabs, Uber and Lyft] to provide a rideshare-style program as part of our 'first mile, last mile' solution” is being considered, Eagan says.

Eagan, who earned a BA in history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and an MPA at Angelo State University, has been HART CEO since May 2014. Eagan has earned prior recognition for her leadership and track record in transportation: she was placed on the 2012 Mass Transit 40 under 40 List and was named the National Association of Women in Construction's Rookie of the Year in 2012. 

Concentrating efforts on the goals of increasing ridership, refining HART’s community image and setting “the transit agency bar higher as a trendsetting innovator” led to success for the agency, Eagan says.

“Thanks to the great work of our over 750 employees, we are better positioned today to provide the Tampa Bay area with quality service and choices.”

In other words, Eagan – and HART – is driven to serve you.

Find a new career at fall job fairs in Tampa, St. Pete

As summer transitions to fall, a number of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg area companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions. New graduates, young professsionals, those seeking a career change or industry advancement, take note of these upcoming job and career fairs in the Tampa Bay area in late summer and fall 2015.

Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires.
 
Monday, August 24: Tampa Bay Lightning/Amalie Arena Part-Time Job Fair
3-7 p.m.
Promenade Level, Amalie Arena
401 Channelside Dr, Tampa

This part-time job fair will fill positions for Amalie Arena events, Lightning hockey and Tampa Bay Storm football games. Positions include: ushers, guest service, security, housekeeping, retail, concessions, kitchen staff, warehouse and more. Applicants are asked bring five copies of their resume and written references. Enter via the main staircase off of Ford Thunder Alley.
 
Thursday, August 27: Tampa Premium Outlets Job Fair
10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Embassy Suites USF/Busch Gardens
3705 Spectrum Boulevard, Tampa

Wednesday, September 16: USF St. Petersburg Annual Part Time Job and Internship Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
University Student Center, USFSP
6th Ave S, St. Pete

Open to USFSP and other USF system students and alumni.
 
Monday, September 21: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave North, St. Pete

More than 50 local employers will be in attendance. Professional business attire required. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.
 
Tuesday, September 29: CareerSource Pinellas/CareerSource Tampa Bay Intern Hiring Event
5-8 p.m.
The EpiCenter, St. Petersburg College
13805 58th St N, St. Pete
 
Wednesday, October 7: CareerSource Pinellas Career Fair
Time TBA
The EpiCenter, SPC
13805 58th St N, St. Pete

Open to the general public. Veterans will receive priority of service. A CareerSource Tampa Bay recruiter will be present to offer resume assistance and job search techniques.
 
Thursday, November 19: Tampa Career Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress Street, Tampa

Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Email the 83 Degrees Innovation & Job News editor with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Lakeland Regional Health gets enhanced pediatric care

Pediatric patients at Lakeland Regional Health will now have enhanced care as the group teams up with Nemours Children’s Hospital of Orlando. The collaboration will allow Lakeland Regional Health to expand its pediatric specialty care services to the children and teens in its community.
 
Nemours Children’s Hospital opened in 2012. In addition to offering advanced pediatric care, the hospital has two pediatric interventional radiologists and a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders.
 
Not only will more services be offered to patients through the agreement with Nemours, but research and educational resources will be available to pediatric care providers throughout Polk County and the surrounding region as well.
 
The partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Nemours is vital because it will allow families residing in Polk County the opportunity to get treatment in their community for conditions that would have otherwise meant referrals elsewhere.
 
“Children needing pediatric specialty care often had to be referred outside our county to receive essential healthcare services,” says Danielle Drummond, senior VP and chief strategy and growth officer for Lakeland Regional Health. “Our strategic relationship with Nemours was formed to provide families with exceptional care options much closer to home.”
 
Lakeland Regional Health will build an eight-story pavilion for women and children on their medical center campus. The pavilion, which is expected to open early 2018, will offer healthcare services such as labor and delivery, obstetrics, newborn care, neonatal intensive care, pediatric surgery and pediatric emergency medicine.
 
“We feel very comfortable partnering with Nemours,” Drummond says. “Bringing specialty pediatric services to this community is keeping with the direction Lakeland Regional Health has been charting.”

Local actors put on 2nd festival in downtown Tampa

Drawing on its debut success last year and added star power, the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival is calling on area actors and theatre enthusiasts to attend the three-day event Sept. 4-6, 2015.

Festival events will take place at the Straz downtown, Stageworks Theatre in Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District and at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Ybor Main Stage. The Festival is packed with original plays and workshops, including quite a coup for such a new festival: master acting class with Broadway, TV actor/director and NBC’s Blacklist co-star Harry Lennix.  

“My goal is to empower the local actor,” says Festival Founder Rory Lawrence, a Tampa resident who founded his own theatre companies, RQL Productions and RL Stage, about six years ago and will present his latest comedy, “Hour Confessions,’’ at the opening events of the festival. Lawrence says he started the festival here because he had attended theatre festivals in other parts of the country, and realized, “Man, we don’t have a festival here!” 

He believed local theatre actors needed more support and networking opportunities. “There are so many actors here that don’t know how or where to go,” says Lawrence.

With much nail-biting leading up to last year’s first Tampa Bay Theatre Festival given the event’s meager pre-sales, he was thrilled when, by his most conservative estimate, more than 1,200 people attended, with several events sold out. “Plays were packed, workshops filled.” Lawrence says this year, they have expanded and are hoping to double attendance.

Thanks to the venue sponsors and the event’s premier sponsor, local law firm Maney Gordon, the festival is reasonably priced and accessible – with professionally taught workshops priced at $10, or $45 gets you into all of them throughout the weekend with discounts for other activities (the Lennix master class is charged separately). Several events are free of charge. 

In addition to the workshops and networking, there will be short- and long-form playwriting contests taking place as well as a monologue contest. Five full-length original plays written by local playwrights will be presented over the course of the weekend. Winners will be announced at the concluding awards ceremony, which is already sold out, though Lawrence may open more seats closer to the event. 

Advance tickets to the festival may be purchased through its website

St. Pete startup aims to save lives with surfboard leash tourniquet

Save a limb for around $50.

That’s the idea behind OMNA Inc, a St. Pete-based startup company that has developed water-friendly tourniquets, which can be used in a sticky situation.

OMNA Inc. Founder and CEO Carson Henderson devised the combination product as a way to help safeguard surfers and swimmers against bleeding injuries from shark attacks or other water hazards.

The idea of an amphibious tourniquet leash, or tourniquet leg rope, came to Henderson after a close encounter with crocodiles and other predators during a 2012 Costa Rican vacation.

Henderson, who was working as a security contractor for the U.S. military in Iraq at the time, explains, “I went surfing with some friends I made there, and we took a boat across a river to get to a surf break. The surf ended up being so good that day that we surfed until it was dark out. When we got back to the river to take a boat back, all the boats were gone.”

No problem – except for the sharks and crocodiles that are known to linger near the mouth of the river. So the group took a chance, gathered their boards into a tight formation, and paddled to safety as quickly as possible.

Although nothing happened, it got Henderson thinking: How many people in the water had run into trouble due to shark attacks or other hazards that cause massive bleeding injuries? As it turned out, enough to warrant a fresh new solution: a surfboard leash with a built-in tourniquet.

“I started researching and identified a recurring problem of people in the water needing tourniquets. I subsequently sketched, filed patents, and began prototyping,” Henderson says.

Along with a tourniquet leash aimed at surfers, Henderson devised an amphibious tourniquet leg rope, which could be used for water-related activities from diving and spear fishing to performing lifeguard or first responder duties.

OMNA “is in the business of saving lives,” Henderson says.

A former recon Marine who was selected as the June Commander’s Call award recipient from veteran business funding organization Street Shares, Henderson earned an AA from Florida State College in Jacksonville and a BS in Organizational Leadership online course work from National University of La Jolla, CA.

“I did the majority of my online coursework from Iraq and Afghanistan in my off-times, when I was not running missions,” he explains. “I was doing coursework chipping away at my BS degree.”

After completing a Certificate in Business Administration from Bond University, Gold Coast in Australia, Henderson left his MBA studies to pursue business fulltime.

The term OMNA comes from Henderson’s days as a recon Marine; it stands for “One Man National Asset” and refers to “people who could do everything. Recon Marines also identify with the jack-of-all-trades slogan, and the company name pays homage to that heritage.”

The startup company has a Prefundia page and may launch a Kickstater campaign. Currently, the bootstrapped company consists solely of Henderson and the occasional freelancer.

Pricing for the Omna Tourniquet leash ranges from $34.99-$59.99. Pre-orders for the leash are now available, with general sales set to begin in fall 2015.

“Our pricing strategy is by price and not volume,” Henderson says. “We are offering two products for one, so we believe this price is fair for the value and quality we provide for our customers.”

Henderson anticipates that product delivery to customers who pre-order will begin in September. Post-general sales launch, Henderson plans to develop partnerships with retailers and wholesalers to sell the leash in stores.

While the tourniquet leash fulfills a niche market role for water board sports, Henderson would like to see OMNA’s amphibious tourniquet stocked by “traditional sporting goods and hunting stores.”

“We want to get these products to people to help enhance life-saving capabilities, in and out of the water,” Henderson says. “A person can bleed out in as little as three minutes. A tourniquet can be worn for roughly one to three hours without the loss of limb. You will not lose a limb if you use a tourniquet.”

Eckerd College alum launches eco-friendly sunscreen, cosmetics line

Each summer, boatloads of sunscreen are sold to beach-goers throughout the country. But where do the contents end up? Often, in the oceans.

Studies have shown that the chemicals found in many sunscreens or skin care products that contain sunscreen can contaminate, and even kill coral reefs (some can also cause problems for humans).

Enter Stream2Sea, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based startup company that aims to revolutionize the way we swim with eco-friendly sunscreen and skin care products that have been deemed safe for marine life.

Entrepreneur Autumn Bloom, who received a chemistry honors B.S. from Eckerd College in 1997, founded Stream2Sea. After starting and later selling off specialty cosmetics company Organix South, the Eckerd alum dove into the idea of protecting endangered ecosystems from human activities.

“Over 6,000 tons of skin care products enter coral reefs from tourist activities alone,” Blum explains in a blog post on the Stream2Sea website, adding that additional contamination products entering waters through runoff or sewage are not included in that statistic.

And even though other sunscreen brands on the market today may call themselves " 'ocean friendly,' many contain ingredients that are known to harm the fragile ecosystems and marine life of our waters,” Blum writes.

After developing Stream2Sea’s initial line of eco-friendly sunscreens and body care products, Blum, with the help of the Eckerd College Alumni Relations department and her mentor, Dr. David Grove, selected a team of scientists and students at Eckerd to conduct testing and research.

The research team, which included Assistant Professor of Biology Denise Flaherty and Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science Koty Sharp, along with several of their students, worked with Blum on scientific trials refine her products.

“It was wonderful working with the knowledgeable professors and students at my alma mater,” Blum writes. “Watching the students apply their lab skills and education to my ‘real world’ requirements, proving the safety of Stream2Sea products, was an incredible feeling.”

Flaherty, who tested the products on fish with her students, says in a news release that the opportunity to work on applied research in the field and in the lab was a special one for students.

“Being able to see a project like this all the way through was very meaningful,’’ she notes.

Sharp’s team, which included Eckerd College marine science seniors Takoda Edlund and Samantha Fortin, spent a week in the Florida Keys collecting coral larvae samples to use for testing the Stream2Sea products. While sunscreen had been tested before on living corals, tests had never been done on coral larvae, Sharp says.

Stream2Sea products were tested on coral larvae and fish at the Mote Marine Laboratory’s Tropical Research Laboratory in Sarasota. Tests concluded that the Stream2Sea products showed no evidence of harm to fish or to corals.

Participating students were so excited to see the positive results that “they actually cheered when every single fish was still alive after 96 hours of swimming in the shampoo-laced foamy water,” Blum writes.

Stream2Sea has identified a list of ingredients to avoid, such as nano particles that can flake off of skin as we swim as well as an ingredients dictionary to help consumers make sense of biodegradable cosmetics that are eco-friendly. 

Moving forward, the company will continue to invest significant funding into testing, Blum writes, “so that we can state, with complete confidence, that we are the safest product on the shelves.”

Stream2Sea sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner and lotion are in stock on the company website. Prices range from $3.95-$16.95.

NY Times columnist Charles Blow kicks off Presidential Event Series at Eckerd College

New York Times Columnist Charles Blow, known for his thought-provoking Op-Eds and recent memoir, “Fire Shut Up My Bones,’’ will be the opening speaker for the 2015-16 Eckerd College Presidential Event Series.  

His talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Eckerd College Fox Hall.

The annual Presidential Event Series brings well-known scholars, artists, writers, scientists and other distinguished individuals to the campus for conversations about critical issues affecting the world today. This year’s focus is on race, class, gender and sexuality.

Blow’s frank discussion of race, social injustice, culture and politics has earned him a considerable following both in the New York Times and as a TV commentator for CNN and MSNBC. His memoir details his experience growing up in poverty, his history of childhood sexual abuse, graduating magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, and eventually landing a job with one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country.

The Presidential Event Series continues on Thursday, Sept. 17, with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. The author of “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War,’’ Gbowee led the women’s peace movement that played a role in ending the second Liberian civil war. 

She is currently president of an organization providing educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and teens in West Africa. Her TED Talk discusses the untapped potential of girls to transform the world.

For more information about the Eckerd Presidential Series, including additional talks throughout the year, follow this link.
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