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.

Fitness Trackers to Save Lives

Technology in patients’ hands can give medical professionals the help they need to ensure patients’ health. Instead of looking up their symptoms on Google, anyone can buy a tracker that can monitor their health. However, since the new technology became available, professionals have worried that patients would be running into ERs thinking they’re having a heart attack, all because their watch sent them a warning. The future, however, is bright for this technology and could be very helpful to medical professionals.

Now, in 2019, there are a handful of wearable trackers like the Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other smart devices. Spotting atrial fibrillation early on is very important and these trackers can help with that. These same trackers could potentially help decrease the 130,000 deaths per year and also help detect heart attacks and strokes earlier. This doesn’t just help the medical professional dealing with the patient, but it also gives the patient a little more grip on their own life.

These devices are not perfect, and hopefully, the user understands that. However, with trackers improving and providing more reliable data, they could be monumental for the medical field. Patients are also smarter than we give them credit for. People also understand that not every time they get a weird feeling do they need to be rushed to the hospital. However, it’s also the patient’s life on the line, and they want to know that they are healthy. So, the smarter our fitness trackers, phones, and watches are, the better off we will be in the future. These advancements could lower death tolls, and additionally help solve health issues that need to be detected early.

Fitness trackers are not just there to tell you you’re unhealthy. They are also put into play to let you know you are doing well. These wellness trackers don’t just check your vitals, they also count steps, measure other movements (like sitting, laying, etc.), can help keep track of calorie intake, monitor sleeping habits and stages of sleep, and also send messages. Not all trackers have these abilities, but most have more than just the one function of checking your heart rate. Trackers help the user understand themselves better. The user can also set a goal for themselves and track those goals easily, and the trackers can also help them train more effectively. Sure the costs for these wrist caretakers vary, but that cost is money spent toward a healthier life.

The Issue of Online Medical (Mis)Information

The internet seems to be a place where people think they can diagnose themselves instead of going to a healthcare professional. The biggest issue here is that if you look up “Why does my head hurt?” on google, you can end up with an answer like, “you may have a brain tumor.” Nothing is going to stop this mass of people who use the internet. So, what should be done? More health care professionals need to establish online presence. Doing so would help create better responses and less havoc for people using the internet for medical knowledge.

The Emerald Coast Medical Association is here for both medical professionals and patients alike to make sure the correct information is available. Another good option would be to create a Q&A service. Dr. Petra Dolman, MD, hosts an hour-long Twitter chat, with guest moderators facilitating conversations ranging from how to negotiate pay, navigating residency interviews, and countering burn out, all searchable under the hashtag #womeninmedicine. Social media will help give those with unheard voices a better opportunity to help those in need.

However, since freedom of speech is a thing, anyone on the internet can get backlash, even if they are correct. For example, Dr. Monique Tello, MD, MPH spoke out in support of vaccinations; she was then targeted by “anti-vaxers” online. Her blog was overthrown with one-star reviews, but those reviews were later removed due to their invalidity. With that being said, this scares medical professionals reaching for the internet because it can be an unforgiving or uncaring place. With the next generation of doctors spending a lot of their time on social media, we can’t deny that the online platforms should be a place with easy to reach medical advice or information. With that information being well known, Universities have begun to take notice and create positions to legitimize social media. The Association for Healthcare Social Media will aim to create the best practices by which all health care professionals can be guided and protected in the emerging field.

By using social media, medical professionals can come off as more human to the public. Just like when a patient is going to see a therapist, they want someone who cares about them and has had good and bad times too. Showing more care for the patient’s emotions and wellbeing can show them that you want to help them. Revealing past experiences, giving your real opinion, voicing the option you’d take, and talking to patients so they can understand better will go a long way. Whether it be in your office or on the web, there will always be a patient looking for a medical professional to help point them in a direction so they can get better.

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Five Tips for Child Health From a Pediatrician

Making sure your child is healthy in adulthood begins when he or she is young and full of life. Kids today have created bad habits for themselves that could lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in their future. However, this can be stopped by parents who are aware of the potential disasters their kids could be facing. Parents need to be good role models and exhibit better habits. Which in return would make the children follow suit.

Adults tend to keep their bad habits from when they were little. This does not have to be the case for all children though. Those bad habits could be turned into healthy habits which would then lead to a healthier, fuller life. Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg believes these five simples steps could help keep children healthy and ready for adulthood.

Step 1: Daily exercise is needed. Let the boys and girls play a sport which they desire or let them play with friends outside. To maintain a healthy heart for children, they should be doing something active for at least an hour a day. However, kids should also do more than one thing, so they are not overusing the same muscles, so try rotating between a few different physical activities from time to time. You’ll also find that this improves the child’s mood and could create better sleeping habits.

Step 2: Eating more plant-based food and less meat packed proteins is another way to keep kids healthy. Things like fruits, vegetables, and grains should be a child’s most substantial intake; these foods give children the needed antioxidants, fibers, minerals, and vitamins. Parents should not be so worried about giving their kids the right amount of protein. Most of the time children are overeating protein during the day. Thus, an increase in plant-based food and smaller meat portions will go a long way.

Step 3: Another food-related thing to keep kids healthy is skipping desserts. Children should be full after dinner. However, if they do become more hungry try giving them fluids or maybe a small healthy snack could also do the trick.  Desserts can also be put under portion control, so kids are not eating all those bad sweets. Those same sweets could make it hard for the child sleep which would make a rough start to the child’s next morning.

Step 4: Talking to kids can help them too. Explaining the dangers and effects of drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol can be daunting. However, it is very necessary to make sure they know the harms their healthy bodies could face if one horrible habit begins. Even a smoker will tell you not to smoke, which should be brought up when talking to kids because things like cancer and other disastrous diseases could ruin their lives.

Step 5: Make it known that you care about your health just as much as your child’s. Planning family physicals and staying up to date on immunization and routine lab tests will show children that you want to be healthy too. This will help with keeping you healthy and creating good habits for your children. This is also the time to ask questions and be concerned about your health. Doing that could make children follow in their caretaker’s footsteps when they become an adult and need to put their foot forward about their health.

Original article: 

Reasons for Patients Ignoring Physician Advice


It is a known fact among all of our members that patients often do not do what their physician advises them to after seeing them. As frustrating as it can be, it is important to us at Emerald Coast Medical Association to make our members know that this is not a failure on your part, as you can only do so much. Our meetings are open for our members to discuss these frustrations without judgment, and allow them to discuss among each other how to better address these types of situations.

Many patients disregard a physician’s advice because they have read an article on Facebook or Google that states the opposite of what the physician has advised. Many of these articles are from an inexperienced person who believes that they can give professional advice in the medical field. Many other patients listen to their friend’s claims, figuring that they should listen to those close to them rather than a random doctor. Although this can be infuriating to everyone in the medical field, it is more common than we all wish to think.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, many people have issues with “health literacy,” which means the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make the appropriate health decisions and follow treatment instructions. Most doctors are aware that health literacy is significantly under-recognized, but it is a major issue that affects the care of patients. It is estimated that around 90 million adults struggle to understand what the doctor is explaining to them about their sickness, and how to take the proper steps to treat it. Anywhere between 20%-30% of prescriptions are never filled, resulting in more illnesses, hospitalizations, and in some cases, death. Existing data supports that although physicians believe they are accurately communicating advice to their patients, it can often be misinterpreted by the patient, which is a huge part of the problem.

An aspect to consider is moving away from the mindset of “telling” the patients what to do, but rather act as more of a partner and advocate for their health. Translating terms from the medical terminology you were taught all through medical school into easier and more common words can aid in how the patient will interpret it all. Having an understanding of the difficulties this patient may be having with their illness and factors aside from that, is a great first step towards gaining patient trust. Empowering and engaging a patient can lead to them being more likely to follow your advice as a physician.

Effective physician-patient communication increases the chances that the patient leaves your office and readily takes your professional advice. We encourage our members to consider all of this when treating your patients, as it can mean a better outcome for you and your patient.

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