Make us your home page

Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers retail business and tourism for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Belinda.

Phone: (727) 893-8467


Twitter: @SunBizGriffin

  1. Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa


    The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped entrance area. A receptionist sits behind a glass window. The more comfortable waiting room is through the next locked door.

    The small sign above this new health clinic reads: Planned Parenthood. ...

  2. Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close


    With just four days left to enroll for health insurance on the federal exchange, advocates for the Affordable Care Act say Florida is headed for a record-breaking year.

    In week five of the six-week open enrollment period, about 823,180 people signed up for health insurance on, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 3.6 million people have enrolled on the federal exchange for health insurance plans in 2018 since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. Florida has the most enrollees out of any state that offers the federal exchange, with 802,711 people having signed up as of Dec. 2. ...

  3. At St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, death of a colleague inspires 'hats with heart'


    TAMPA — Brittany Weatherby didn't know how to crochet when she started her job as a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, and she never dreamed of learning how.

    Maybe her grandma used to, she tried to remember, but Weatherby never really had an interest. Then she met Paula MacDonald in the labor and delivery unit.

    MacDonald had a way of brightening up their corner of the hospital, her friends and coworkers say. She had big brown eyes and a heartwarming smile. She was caring and nurturing to her fellow nurses and was always the voice of positivity and reassurance, even on the saddest days. ...

  4. Florida Hospital chain to buy Bayfront Health Dade City


    Adventist Health System, the parent company of Florida Hospital, announced Tuesday that it plans to buy Bayfront Health Dade City hospital and its related outpatient services.

    The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, which will make it the 11th hospital in the chain to join the West Florida Division of Adventist Health System, according to a press release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals....

  5. Could math help defeat cancer? Moffitt is betting it will


    TAMPA — On any given day, the lobby at Moffitt Cancer Center is buzzing with patients and their families.

    A few are waiting to check in for another round of chemotherapy. Others are hopeful for more good news about their remission. Some look more tired than others.

    Above them, on an upper floor, a group of staffers is working to find new ways to fight or even cure cancer, but they aren't doctors or nurses, and their office looks nothing like the rest of the hospital. ...

    Dan Nichol from the Institute of Cancer Research in London was one of about 80 attendees at a recent workshop at Moffitt Cancer Center to discuss the intersection of mathematics and medicine. Moffitt's Integrated Mathematical Oncology department hosts the event every year to brainstorm on ways math can be used to help defeat cancer. [Photo courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center]
  6. As politicians pledge solutions to the opioid epidemic, advocates say the key will be money


    The opioid epidemic has grabbed the spotlight of late, with state and national leaders promising action.

    Gov. Rick Scott pledged in September to push for tighter prescription rules and budget $50 million for treatment and beefed up law enforcement. A month later, President Trump declared the epidemic a public health emergency and outlined some possible ways to fight addiction and make certain drugs less available....

    President Donald Trump is applauded during his Oct. 26 annoucement declaring the opioid epidemica public health emergency. He outlined various strategies for addressing the problem but did not commit the large amount of funding that many advocates say will be necessary to provide treatment for addicts. [New York Times]
  7. Hand, foot and mouth disease: It's out there now, and you don't want to get it


    The last thing parents want to deal with is a sick child around the holidays.

    That's why doctors across the Tampa Bay area are warning parents to be vigilant against hand, foot and mouth disease, a highly contagious virus that sometimes causes painful, blister-like sores to develop on the hands and feet, and in and around the mouth. While peak seasons for the virus are usually in the summer and early fall, there's been an uptick in the number of local cases lately as we ease into winter, according to day care operators and health department officials. ...

    Health officials recommend washing hands frequently and sanitizing toys, clothes and other items as often as possible to avoid the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease. The disease can result in blister-like dots or rashes, and other symptoms including fever, fatigue and decreased appetite. [iStockphoto]
  8. In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare


    Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.

    Enrollment has surged 47 percent over this point last year in the 39 states with federal health care exchanges, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. About 1.5 million people across the country have signed up through in the first 11 days of the six-week enrollment period for 2018. That includes the 876,788 consumers who purchased insurance during the second week of the period, Nov. 5-11....

    About 1.5 million people across the country have signed up through in the first 11 days of the six-week enrollment period for 2018. That's up from about 1 million last year at this time. "We've been very, very busy," said Melanie Hall, executive director of the Family Health Care Foundation, a health care navigator organization in Tampa. [Times files]

A look at the website in November 2017 as signups began for 2018 under the Affordable Care Act.
  9. Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia


    Where did I leave my keys?

    As we age, it can take longer to answer a question like that.

    Humans begin to lose cognitive ability at age 25. Dementia, or the decline of memory most commonly seen in aging adults, takes hold early on and is gradual, but accelerates in the seventh or eighth decade of our lives.

    However, a local researcher and the lead author on a ground-breaking medical study has found a way to reduce the risk of dementia by a remarkable 29 percent. The answer? Computer games. ...

    Jerri Edwards, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the University of South Florida, was the lead author on a ground-breaking study that found a way to reduce the risk of dementia by a remarkable 29 percent. [Photo courtesy of USF]
  10. Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients


    The corporate owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg could be facing a serious federal investigation related to its commitment to take care of St. Petersburg's poorest residents.

    In its most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Nashville-based Community Health Systems mentions that it received a "civil investigative demand" on Sept. 14 from the Department of Justice. The agency is requesting documents and information related to Bayfront Health's involvement in Florida's Low Income Pool program, which is used to reimburse hospitals for the cost of providing care to uninsured residents and is sometimes referred to as "charity care." ...

    Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is owned by Community Health Systems, which stated in a recent SEC filing that federal officials are demanding documents related to funds for low-income patients. Bayfront Health also is facing another development -- a decision next week on whether it will be allowed to buy out the charitable foundation that owns a 20 percent stake in the hospital. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  11. Exploring cryotherapy: The room is 180 degrees below zero, but it sort of feels good


    This was colder than the time I skied through a snow storm in the Swiss Alps. It was even colder than when I fell through a sheet of ice into a frozen lake in Colorado.

    This was a cold I had never experienced. The kind that makes your teeth chatter. Really. And you shiver beyond control.

    That's what I get for wanting to see what it feels like to try cryotherapy, a popular alternative to icing sore muscles, joints and other ailments, and a health fad that seems to be sticking around. ...

    Ashley Brewer, 32, is a regular in the cryotherapy chamber at U.S. Cryotherapy in Tampa. She discovered the therapy when researching alternatives to pain management. She's been getting treatments four to five times a week for the last eight months. They were uncomfortable at first, but now she looks forward to them, she says. [U.S. Cryotherapy]
  12. When the goal is getting to the ER fast and cheap, some choose ride sharing over 911


    Matt Lavin had just arrived in Charlottesville, Va., for a business trip when he started feeling sick.

    By the time he got to his hotel around 11 p.m., he felt excruciating pain.

    "I didn't know what was happening, but I knew something wasn't right," said Lavin, an attorney who lived in Washington D.C. at the time but is also the medical director for a Florida-based chain of addiction recovery centers. He had good insurance through his employer, but still second-guessed calling an ambulance for help. ...

    Pedestrians stream past the San Francico offices of Uber. The ride-sharing company and its rival, Lyft, don't openly condone taking riders to the emergency room, but their websites share positive stories about their drivers helping people get to the hospital on time. [Bay Area News Group]
  13. Obamacare fact vs. fiction: What you need to know before open enrollment


    Consumers are struggling to separate fact from fiction as the open enrollment period approaches for health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act's federal exchange, advocates and insurance companies say.

    The controversial health care law lives on, even as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress look for ways to kill it. Obamacare will continue to be the way millions of Americans sign up for coverage next year, and Wednesday is the first day they can enroll. ...

    President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Oct. 12 that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers. But despite that action and other efforts to kill Obamacare, the law remains intact and the 2018 enrollment period starting Wednesday, Nov. 1. [DOUG MILLS | The New York Times]
  14. Patel to focus on philanthropy after sale of Freedom Health


    Now that Kiran Patel the entrepreneur has sold his managed health care services company, he plans to get more in touch with his other side, Kiran Patel the benefactor.

    "I want to focus on the other things that I have started, from hospitality to different funds and technology companies," Patel told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday. "But more of my time will go to the philanthropic side."...

    Dr. Kiran Patel, left, and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, are putting up $200 million toward a new medical school in Clearwater run by Nova Southeastern University. Kiran Patel said Wednesday he will focus more on the couple's philanthropic efforts now that his managed health services company, Freedom Health Inc., has been acquired by Anthem Inc. [Photo courtesy of Nova Southeastern University]
  15. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo


    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August approved the first ever Chimeric Antigen Receptor Therapy, or "CAR-T cell therapy," for children and young adults up to age 25 suffering from leukemia and other blood and bone cancers. And just this week, the agency approved the same immunotherapy for adults with large B cell lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. ...

    Dr. Peter Shaw is the deputy director of the Johns Hopkins All Children's Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute. He says the new cancer therapy, known as CAR-T, has great promise. "There is a possibility that it could be a better treatment than what we've been using for many years." [Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital]