WUFT News

Ocala City Manager’s Contract Not Renewed

By on October 22nd, 2014 | Last updated: October 22, 2014 at 9:25 am
The Ocala City Council voted not to renew Matthew Brower's contract as city manager on Tuesday. Brower's current contract will expire on Dec. 21.

Qianwen Zhang

The Ocala City Council voted not to renew Matthew Brower's contract as city manager on Tuesday. Brower's current contract will expire on Dec. 21.

The request to reappoint Matthew Brower as Ocala’s city manager was rejected on a three-to-two vote in the Ocala City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

The result did not come as a surprise after Brower received a mixed performance evaluation result by five council members and after Ocala’s three unions — the Fraternal Order of Police Ocala Lodge No. 129, the Professional Firefighters of Ocala, IAFF Local 2135 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — publicly expressed their lost confidence in his abilities as city manager.

Although some community leaders expressed their support for Brower in the meeting, the three union leaders complained about unions’ dissatisfaction with Brower’s leadership, exemplified in Brower’s lack of efforts in negotiation and his “cronyism” by “reclassifying certain employees to give them raises while other employees go without increases.”

Robert Altman, president of Professional Firefighter of Ocala, thought Brower did not communicate well with employees or successfully promote real communication between unions and the council. Altman said Brower had his own agenda to work on instead of conveying unions’ true opinions.

Council member Mary Rich voted for renewal of Brower’s contract. Before the vote, Rich said giving Brower at least a one-year extension would be in their best interest.

“And if he does something that you don’t like, go to him and talk to him,” she said.

Rich expressed concerns about the evaluation on Brower, which was given to two of the five city employees with contracts due, and said the council should not “get rid of” him based on this evaluation.

“We should do them all instead of picking one or two,” she said.

Rich gave Brower the highest rating in the evaluation.

Council member Jay Musleh, who created the evaluation, explained there was not enough time to review all five people. Musleh said the review was intended to introduce some procedure to evaluate those whose contracts were up for renewal pending a vote.

Musleh said the council will work out a method of evaluating all such individuals in the future.

Council member Brent Malever gave Brower the lowest rating on the evaluation.

“Everything can be done better,” Malever said.

Malever said his biggest problem was with money spent on different projects he said aren’t going anywhere.

“We are looking out for our citizens,” he said. “I have to make my vote count in the right direction.”

Council member Jim Hilty echoed Malever’s sentiment to consider “what is good for the community,” but he also wondered if now was really the right time to lose a city leader. Hilty voted for renewal of Brower’s contract.

Brower expressed his honor to serve as city manager and thankfulness for those supporting him after the vote. He recognized those who love the city and who want to make the city a great place to live and prosper.

“Remember that vision is bigger than me,”Brower said. “I’m asking you to continue to fight for that vision, continue to work hard for that vision, and help that vision be realized.”

Brower was appointed city manager of Ocala in February 2011. His contract will end on December 21, 2014.

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Early Voting Has Begun

By on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

Bradford county joins Levy county Monday in opening their doors for early voting. Alachua county will begin early voting Wednesday and Marion county on Thursday. These are the few counties that will have early voting until every county is open for a mandatory early voting period from this Saturday until Nov. 1.

 

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Oct. 21, 2014: Afternoon News In 90

By and on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm

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Oct. 21, 2014: Morning News In 90

By and on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm


Nathalie Dortonne produced this update.

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CDC Creates Stricter Guidelines For Treatment Of Ebola Patients

By on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 22, 2014 at 10:44 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created stricter guidelines for the treatment of Ebola patients.

The changes target the protection of health care workers who treat infected patients and follow the infection of two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, an Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas.

The new guidelines address three key areas: training and hands-on experience, preventing skin exposure, and strict observation of putting on and taking off Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Richard Condit, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at the University of Florida, said the third step, specifically the removal of the PPE, is critical.

Removing the protective gear is particularly critical because “once you have it on, there are opportunities during that (removal) period that you are exposing your skin to contamination,” Condit said.

The virus cannot spread unless it makes direct contact with an individual.

“Really, the only way to contract Ebola is through direct contact with bodily fluids from an individual who has an active infection,” he said.

The chances of contracting the virus can vary depending on the length of exposure to an infected patient and the severity of the case.

Though it is impossible to contract the disease without being around an infected person, Executive Director of the Florida Nurse’s Association Willa Fuller said education is the most effective form of prevention.

“It’s important that the public be educated about this disease and learn how to protect themselves,” she said.

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In the News: Scott Talks Ebola Measures, Florida Population Grows with Economy, Prisoner Deaths Ensue Investigations, Disney Innovates with New Movie

By on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 21, 2014 at 10:14 am
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Hydrocodone Now More Difficult to Obtain for Prescribed Users

By on October 21st, 2014 | Last updated: October 21, 2014 at 10:48 am
Hydrocodone has been moved to a stricter schedule II drug from a schedule III, making it more difficult to obtain for prescribed patients.

Roberta Fiorito / WUFT News

Hydrocodone has been moved to a stricter schedule II drug from a schedule III, making it more difficult to obtain for prescribed patients.

Susan Stephens has two broken disks in her back. The only drug that helps relieve her back pain is hydrocodone.

“I’ve been to the doctor over and over again. I’ve tried so many different drugs, therapies, things like that,” Stephens, 50, said. ”All of these things worked for a little, but hydrocodone was the only one that really killed my pain.”

Stephens’ first broken disk is a result of years of “hard living,” she said. She suffered her second broken disk in a car accident last year.

She said hydrocodone especially helps during “bad episodes,” when physical activity such as walking or gardening cause the pain to become so extreme that she can’t function normally for a couple of days.

Starting Oct. 6, the Drug Enforcement Agency tightened restrictions on hydrocodone, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country. The DEA’s restrictions make the drug more difficult to obtain for patients with prescriptions.

Now hydrocodone, and drugs like Vicodin and Lortab that contain it, will be classified with schedule II prescription drugs, rather than its previous schedule III category.

This will make it be more difficult to obtain hydrocodone, according to the Controlled Substances Act. The change places the painkiller in the same category as OxyContin, and one tier below heroin and ecstasy, according to the DEA.

Lindsay Rowell, a practicing pharmacist in Gainesville, said a patient must now get a new hydrocodone prescription from a doctor each time they need a refill. Hydrocodone prescriptions can no longer be called or faxed in directly to pharmacies.

Patients with month-to-month prescriptions of the painkiller are usually those with chronic pain, or certain cancer patients who do not require an opiate.

Rowell also said only the pharmacist will be allowed to fill these prescriptions, unlike a schedule III drug, in which a technician is allowed to count and bottle the drug.

The reason for the change is to deter doctors from writing an excess of hydrocodone prescriptions, and to avoid prescription painkiller abuse.

However, Florida has already seen decreases in prescription painkiller abuse. From 2010 to 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported deaths from drug overdose fell about 18 percent, from 17 to 14 deaths per 100,000. The decline of deaths from hydrocodone fell about 23 percent in the same period.

Larry Wise, of Wise’s Pharmacy at 8 SW Fourth Ave. in Gainesville, said the new policy is less convenient for some patients. He received a few calls from doctors last week on how to handle the situation because they had not heard about the changes.

Wise’s Pharmacy, at 8 SW Fourth Ave. in Gainesville, has been receiving calls from doctors about the new changes.

Roberta Fiorito / WUFT News

Wise’s Pharmacy, at 8 SW Fourth Ave. in Gainesville, has been receiving calls from doctors about the new changes.

“(Doctors) could fax or phone it in, and it used to be up to five refills over a six month period, and now you need a new prescription each time,” he said.

People have also asked questions about current prescriptions that did have refills. Now they can’t get those refills without a new prescription either, Wise said.

“It makes it a lot harder for the honest people who have real medical conditions and who are trying to get their medicine,” Wise said. “It makes it a lot more difficult, but it should cut down on the prescribing.”

Stephens, who is currently unemployed and did not have health insurance at the time of her accident, said she can’t always afford a doctor visit for the severe pain in her back.

“It’s hard because you can’t really ask for (hydrocodone). I mean you can ask, but your doctor has to trust you to know what your body needs and that you aren’t an addict,” Stephens said. “And with everything else that I’ve tried, I don’t know why they have to make (hydrocodone) so addictive.”

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Oct. 20, 2014: Afternoon News In 90

By on October 20th, 2014 | Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Taylor Trache produced this update. 

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In the News: PSTA CEO Lies About Use of Federal Grant; UF Researchers Aim to Cure Arthritis in Dogs Using Stem Cells, Skeletal Remains Plane Wreckage Found, Man Accused of Killing Seven Women

By on October 20th, 2014 | Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm
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CDC Studies Effects of Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Over Traditional Shot for Children

By on October 20th, 2014 | Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm
Victoria Rusinov administers FluMist to a child at the Control Flu clinic at Littlewood Elementary School.

Kai Su / WUFT News

Victoria Rusinova administers FluMist to a child at the Control Flu clinic at Littlewood Elementary School in Gainesville, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Control Flu has clinics on Wednesdays and Thursdays at public schools in Alachua County throughout the month of October, said April Wu, Control Flu program coordinator.

A nasal spray form of the flu vaccine is more effective than the flu shot in healthy children ages 2 to 8, recent studies suggest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the nasal spray flu vaccine prevented about 50 percent more cases of flu than the flu shot in younger children.”

UF Health Shands pediatrician Kathleen Ryan, M.D., said FluMist (the name of the nasal spray flu vaccine) contains a live virus, whereas the shot contains killed viruses. However, the virus is weak and cannot cause the flu, according to the CDC website.

Ryan said the flu virus enters the body through the nose, which is why FluMist is more effective in preventing the virus from actually entering the nose and growing.

“No one knows for sure, but most likely FluMist is more effective for younger people because as you get older, you’ve been affected with so many viruses throughout your life,” Ryan said. “You’ve been around longer, so immunity in the nose limits the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

She said there is good evidence FluMist is more effective for children and people older than 8-years-old, but the CDC did not feel it had been studied enough to make an official recommendation.

Ryan is also the medical coordinator for Control Flu, a program that aims to provide free FluMist vaccinations to pre-K through 12th grade Alachua County students.

“We do this by immunizing school children because school children are known to be the super spreaders of flu and often bring flu into the community,” Ryan said.

Each flu season Control Flu administers FluMist to children in the public schools who have returned signed consent forms from their parents.  If they have asthma, chronic heart disease or other chronic conditions, they are ineligible to receive FluMist.

University of Florida nursing senior Victoria Rusinova said this year she got the nasal spray flu vaccination for the first time. Rusinova said she preferred it just as well as the shot, but she liked that there was no soreness that usually comes from a shot.

“I wanted to get FluMist in order to be more immersed in this initiative,” said Rusinova, who administered FluMist for Control Flu’s elementary school clinics. “And to be on the receiving side as well as giving side.”

This year, Control Flu held clinics at UF for the first time.

“We’re hoping to get a good response,” said April Wu, Control Flu program coordinator. “We’re thinking there are UF students who are unaware of the vaccinations available to them.”

Ryan said there has been less flu in Alachua County than in surrounding communities because more people are vaccinated through the Control Flu program. She said she thinks we will always have the flu shot because there are age restrictions for FluMist and some people who are ineligible to receive it.

“But for healthy people that don’t have any illnesses, over time the FluMist might become more popular over the shot,” Ryan said.

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