Bay County Updates on COVID-19

As our community struggles to get back to some semblance of normal after the disaster of Michael, healthcare professionals find ourselves again wrestling with the chaos addressing basic healthcare needs.  These are unprecedented times, and like our patients, many of us as physicians are trying to find a way to deliver even basic healthcare needs. We struggle with questions of priority, as we attempt to figure out how to keep our patients safe and healthy.  The silver lining is that by now, we as healthcare providers are well versed in dealing with challenging healthcare delivery. Relative to the challenges of Michael, we feel better prepared to face the adversity of COVID-19.

We have a strong Medical Association which does an amazing job of keeping both providers and patients abreast of the current Pandemic situation. We encourage everyone to visit our website and Facebook page for the latest updates and information. The rapid evolution of this process requires excellent communication and proactive thought processes.

With the recent ‘Stay at home’ (Executive Order 20-91) by Gov. Desantis, we want our patients to know that staying at home does not mean that you should disregard your healthcare needs and concerns. Take care of yourself! Your physician can address many healthcare needs (refills, questions, concerns) via remote telecommunication. We want you to continue taking regular medications and if you need refills, contact your physician.

If you feel sick and are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care physician and initiate further instruction.  Do not go to the ER, or Urgent care clinic until you contact your primary care provider and are told to do so. If you don’t have a primary care provider, contact Michelle Flaat at or 850-819-8273 and she can help direct you to the appropriate provider.

If you have routine healthcare appointments pending, contact your provider or visit their website to seek guidance as to the best course of action.  Many providers will see you remotely, or perhaps reschedule your appointment depending on acuity. Do your best to stay healthy by washing your hands regularly, avoiding contact with others, and sanitizing objects that are frequently touched (i.e. cell phones, door handles). And of course, be vigilant about Social Distancing!

COVID-19 Patient Need-to-Know Summary:


  • Continue taking all prescribed medication.
  • Keep existing appointments (within the next 8 weeks), BUT, contact your physician or visit their websites/social media, prior to your scheduled appointment to see whether you can (or should) keep the appointment.
  • Remember that many healthcare needs can/may be addressed remotely via facetime or other similar apps.
  • If you need an appointment call your provider to schedule as necessary.
  • Wash your hands, and clean high traffic areas regularly.
  • Practice Social Distancing!

Do Not:

  • Neglect your healthcare needs due to quarantine.  We can help!
  • Go to the ER/Urgent Care if you are worried you may have COVID-19 without contacting your primary physician first (obviously if your healthcare situation is emergent take appropriate measures).
  • Underestimate the importance of your mental health!

Finally, remember not only to take care of your body but especially in times like these, take care of your mental health!  As our homes have now become our schools and offices, stress does not begin to explain the emotional obstacles we face during this challenging time.  Set aside designated exercise time, prayer/meditation time, and family communication time to ensure your well-being. There are many resources available and we are fortunate to have them set up and ready as mental health providers have been equipped to handle the Hurricane Michael mental health crisis already.  Focus on positive and uplifting thoughts, but don’t ever hesitate to ask for help if you feel like you could use support. Our community and strong, even stronger since overcoming the adversity and come out stronger. Together we will overcome this Pandemic, and again, be fortified as a country when all is said and done.

Take Care of Yourself

Working in the medical field is no easy task, daunting hours, stressful situations, and maybe a negative work environment can lead to depressing thoughts, poor diets, and lack of exercise and sunlight.

One fantastic way to relieve that stress is going outside. Just by going outside for 15 minutes can improve one’s mood and even better their day.

Sara Moss Wolfe Wrote, “Nature is my medicine,” and “look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Sometimes being with nature can be therapeutic after a long or stressful work day and we recommend that you look into getting some outside time during your day.

Maria Perez-Johnson, DO stated, “Taking a deep breath the minute I walk outside into the real world takes me away from any pain or suffering that I may have encountered.” No matter what your pain may be, sometimes you need to take a moment to relax your brain. Especially for everything that has happened after Hurricane Micheal and the destruction he has left behind.

Medical professionals often try to voice the importance of being outside to their patients. Being outside can give you vitamin D and can better moods.

However, you don’t need to sit outside and take everything in. You can always take up outdoor activities too. Something as easy as jogging around your area or going for walks can improve health and mental state. Having better health and a better mood going into work can lead to better decision making and having a happier time at work. Patients want to see a smiling face as their welcomed by the person who is trying to take care of them. This can also cause more significant interaction with patients and to gain their trust more easily and quickly to provide them the help they need.

But, you can not forget that you’re human too. You need positive things in your life, and this should be keeping a healthy diet, exercising, going outside, and surrounding yourself with other positive people.

However, a great way to do that would be to become a member of the Emerald Coast Medical Associate. We have meetings for our physicians where you can be more up to date with information, meet great colleagues and be in a positive environment.

Health Tips for Busy Physicians


Working in the medical field can be incredibly taxing. Not having a lot of downtime and always having to perform at your best can be tiring. Medical professionals have a stressful job and role in society. Here are a few tips for keeping your health in good condition.

Diet is the most important thing for any person who is always busy. Just like any other highly active individual, you need to make sure you are eating healthy. A great way to start the day is by eating a healthy breakfast. Keep away from unnecessary sugars in the morning. As for lunch, you want something filling and packed with good proteins while trying to avoid red meats. Make the meal well-balanced by adding in some low-glycemic carbohydrates, like brown rice or whole wheat bread. For most people, a high intake of carbs for lunch can cause one to sloth. Snacking can also be used to boost some energy through the day. Eat things like fruits, fiber bars, nuts, and make sure you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Try to stay away from sodas and other sugary drinks throughout the day. Coffee and tea, however, can be kept to a max of 2 cups throughout the workday.

The next tip would be to stay active. This does not have to be going to the gym early in the morning or late at night. Staying active could be walking around your job site, instead of just sitting or standing. During your lunch break, try to utilize the time to take a walk if possible. Using the stairs more often can burn calories quickly even if you’re moving at a reasonable pace. Try to do other cardiovascular activities outside of work to keep your health in good condition and keep you at peak performance.

The last tip has to do with mental health. It’s best to be mentally ready for every day, so go into each with a positive outlook. If you go into a day negatively, it can affect how you act toward colleagues and patients alike. Try to avoid negative colleagues when possible because they can bring your mood down too. Be mentally calm, and greet others with positivity. Breathing exercises or other forms of meditation can go a long way before, during, or after a workday. Another thing to keep in mind is if your thoughts are getting negative during the day or after, it’s best to talk to someone. Sometimes talking it out can get things off your chest and take some of the stress off as well.

Stay healthy, stay positive, and be the change you want to see.

Are you ready to join Emerald Coast Medical Association? Click below to get started today!

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ECMA Cares About Preventing Doctor Suicide


Time and time again, people fail to address the scale of suicide and mental illness in the medical profession. Emerald Coast Medical Association wants to change that. By becoming a member of Emerald Coast Medical Association, you will always be supported by our other members and us.

Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D. wrote an article on the five ways to help prevent doctor suicide, which we want to share with our members.

The first way to help prevent physician suicide is by destigmatizing mental illness for doctors and medical students. Although doctors are the ones who take care of people, they have the same risk factors for mental illness as the general population does. According to Dr. Rowe, when our patients talk about problems within their life, whether they be physical or mental, it can trigger us because of our own history. Having an understanding of our own vulnerabilities can help us when we experience these triggers.

While stress and burnout are recognized as “normal” in medical workplaces, they should be recognized as warning signs of mental illness. Mental illness is known to have a stigma surrounding it, but for doctors, it is even more so. It is important that if a coworker discloses something to you about feeling depressed or burnout that you address it with him and let them know they you do not judge them. That is why Emerald Coast Medical Association is an excellent place for doctors; they can all relieve stress and talk about how they feel without worrying about judgment.

The second way is to encourage doctors and medical students to have their own trusted doctors that they can seek help from if they need it. Although we can recognize the early symptoms of mental illness, we should not treat our coworkers or friends because we can not give them optimal care.

Only about 50 percent of doctors have their own independent doctor, and often times we see our doctor later rather than sooner as we should have. Dr. Rowe believes it is important to have routine mental health screenings.

The third way to prevent physician suicide is by providing optimal management of mental health problems in doctors and medical students. Dr. Rowe has said from experience she often sees doctors with a mixed pattern of depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of which can come from being overexposed to patient misery, violence, abuse, and death, including suicide.

Physician suicide is actually more common than suicide in the general population. Structured formal mindful-based cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for doctors suffering from mental health disorders.

The fourth way is by changing our medical culture. A medical career is challenging and complex, and doctors require support. Many medical workplaces do not give doctors the time off that they need or help them out when they ask for a lower workload; this can put pressure on them and lead to them experiencing burnout.

According to Dr. Rowe, recent families of young doctors who have committed suicide have described the medical field as “soul-crushing.” Bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace can cause safety issues, especially for doctors who are predisposed to mental health issues. Changing medical culture will take time but is well worth it as it will be beneficial in the long run.

The fifth and final way to prevent doctor suicide is by making our medical organizations work for us. Engage with your medical organization and work together to present a powerful unified voice of advocacy for doctors at a local, national, and global level. Medical organizations can provide more ways for doctors to deal with their mental health, such as conferences and training in care for mental illness.

It is important to remind ourselves of what makes us enjoy being doctors and why we chose this career in the first place. Coming together as a united team is what will really help to prevent physician suicide. Emerald Coast Medical Association is here to help prevent it, and we are ready for you to be a part of our team.

Unite with us, and help us prevent doctor suicide.

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You can find the original article by Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D., here:

Providing Support to Those Experiencing Burnout

Emerald Coast Medical Association is aware that physician and nurse burnout is becoming more and more of a problem in the workforce. Recent reports have shown that factors such as the generation and role of the nurse can have a major impact on whether they experience burnout. We aim to provide our members with a compassionate community that supports each other through tough times. Our members communicate with each other to aid in problem-solving.

When looking at the resiliency of nurses across different roles and age groups, it was found that nurses who are millennials struggle the most with burnout. Burnout can also be referred to when talking about “activation,” meaning the ability to find joy or value in work. Being able to balance work and life outside of work is one of the most crucial ways to avoid burnout. Our members have access not only to each other but also to events put on by our association to relieve stress and allow each other to decompress.

Nurses with low levels of activation and decompression are usually more likely to leave their job. It is important to support nurses mental health in addition to physicians because of the various stress factors. It is essential to identify what makes a nurse want to stay at their job and find the joy and value in it to keep them working. Making sure people are activated is one of the most significant ways to make an impact on someone’s work drive.

Christy Dempsey, the chief nursing officer at Press Ganey, talked about how disengaged nurses represent $22,000 in lost productivity a year on average. It was also mentioned that disengaged nurses attitudes could affect others in the office and in turn cause low productivity.

Finding a way to accommodate nurses depending on their generation and role is one of the easiest fixes to burnout. Decompression is crucial to enjoying work, and ECMA has events that allow our members to do so, such as the CME beach retreat. Dempsey also stated that recognizing nurses for their work can cause a positive reaction and make them more eager to work. At ECMA meetings we take the time to recognize our members and spotlight on special topics, giving them the boost they need to continue work. The support in the ECMA community is overwhelming, and the perfect way to fight back against nurse burnout.

Not a member? Find out more about the benefits of joining by clicking below.

Membership Benefits

Arming Ourselves Against Physician Burnout

Physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals everywhere are experiencing burnout due to stress related factors. The suicide rate among physicians is more than double that of the general population. Burnout and depression can lead to medical error, something no patient wants to experience.

Studies have shown that it is important for medical professionals to surround themselves with people who can understand them and help them to reflect on their true purpose for picking this field. Emerald Coast Medical Association is the perfect place to do this as it is made up of healthcare professionals who support each other and interact with each other. It is of the utmost importance for us to help to support physicians and other healthcare workers while allowing them to grow as individuals and a group. We have found that our members are not only better personally, but also when interacting with their patients.

Emerald Coast Medical Association is working to fight back against burnout and depression. Here at Emerald Coast Medical Association, we value our medical professionals and do everything we can to combat burnout. Our members participate in retreats and workshops that allow them to relieve their stress from the job and interact with others who understand the feelings they have on a day-to-day basis.

There are many more benefits to becoming a member of Emerald Coast Medical Association. There are meetings every month, where members are recognized for the hard work they have put in. Member meetings also spotlight current trends in medicine so that members are always informed of the newest hot topics.

Many of these meetings aim to encourage growth from members. Members have various opportunities to speak with other physicians and expand their network among each other. Our network of physicians is ever-expanding so there is always someone new to have the opportunity to speak with at our meetings. In addition, we encourage our members to grow by holding scientific sessions every spring where anyone looking to expand their knowledge is invited to come. Members also have access to cutting edge Continuing Medical Education, allowing them to excel at their trade.

Members should take full advantage of all these opportunities as it is proven to only help them better themselves as physicians. We are aware of the hardships that physicians and other healthcare professionals face, and we hope to make the public more aware through our association.

There are many more benefits that members have access to, all of which can be viewed by clicking below

Membership Benefits

Remedying the Shortage in Mental Healthcare

Over the last decade, the number of individuals struggling with mental health issues has increased, while the number of inpatient beds for mental health patients has continually declined. The journal Psychiatric Services estimated in 2017 that more than 8 million Americans were suffering from serious psychological problems. Unfortunately, this coincides with an ongoing trend of deinstitutionalization that began over 50 years ago when state hospitals decided that many of their mentally ill inpatients would do just as well in the community.

Last year Dominic Sisti, director of University of Pennsylvania’s Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care, told NPR that in the late 50s and early 60s “State hospitals began to realize that individuals who were there probably could do well in the community. It was well-intended, but what I believe happened over the past 50 years is that there’s been such an evaporation of psychiatric therapeutic spaces that now we lack a sufficient number of psychiatric beds.”

At the time, people felt that community based care options would serve patients more effectively and economically. Unfortunately, over the years, support for these programs has been inconsistent, and a group of people who truly do need inpatient care are unable to get it due to economic barriers or just straightforward shortage of beds.

Thankfully, some hospitals are addressing the lack of facilities with the expansion of existing mental health facilities or even the creation of new ones. Tina Reed, Executive Healthcare & Hospitals Editor for FierceHealthcare, reports that the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU recently redesigned its behavioral health center, adding 8 more beds. San Francisco opened a new 54-bed inpatient facility, Mercy Medical Center revealed plans for a psychiatric hospital in Iowa with room for 100 patients, while more psychiatric hospital projects have already been built or are underway in the Northeast United States.

Meanwhile, in Falls Church Virginia, Inova Health Systems will debut their new behavioral health inpatient unit, which offers private rooms, space for group therapy, natural light, and high tech safety features which includes doors that cannot be barricaded. With a separate floor for teenagers, this facility looks to provide specialized mental healthcare with a staff dedicated to preventing suicides and overdoses, treating anxiety, depression, and substance abuse before it’s too late.

The shortage in beds has spurred this growth, but Inova is committed to providing not only top flight inpatient care for mental health, but also follow-up programs and integrated help from social workers and counselors to provide coordinated outpatient treatment once the patient is back at home.

Michelle Mullany, Inova’s assistant vice president of behavioral health says that investing in units such as theirs are an important step toward changing the current landscape of mental healthcare in the United States. “We don’t necessarily give enough time to see how the trajectory of the improvement is on those medications, we discharge folks,” she says, in regard to the general state of mental health care our country, “Having an increase in beds will help us prevent readmission and really get that treatment right from the beginning.”

Emerald Coast Medical Association recognizes the importance of mental health providers to the healthcare landscape. We are proud to have many fine psychiatrists as members, and we value their contribution to the care and well-being of our local patients. We encourage you to search our listings for our mental health care specialists or any sort of practitioner you or your patients may need. When we work together, we effect change, on a large scale as well as among individuals.

Please click below to explore our member directory.

Member Directory