Author Archive

New Technology Brings Back the Old-time House Call

March 17th, 2020

What was old is now new again.

House calls, where a doctor arrives at your door with a black bag and stethoscope, are making a comeback.

Only this time, medical providers come equipped with portable X-ray machines, labs and even EKG machines.

“We’re bringing house calls back to medicine because we believe in high-quality patient-centered, convenient care,” says Dr. Paul Nanda, chief medical officer of Tampa General Hospital Urgent Care powered by Fast Track. “As medical providers, we want to provide a concierge service for our patients, convenient care when they need it most in the comfort of their own home.”

The hospital and its urgent care partner recently began offering house calls in South Tampa and Riverview, with plans to expand the service to other areas. A discounted fee of $149 is offered through Nov. 30; after that, the standard fee is $199 per visit.

The service provides treatments for cough, colds, sore throat, ear infections, eye problems, urinary tract infections, vomiting, rashes, fevers and sprains. Urgent Care at Home powered by Fast Track also provides medical testing and diagnostics for flu, strep, rapid RSV, urinalysis and more for anyone ages three months and older.

Tampa General Hospital’s move comes as startups threaten to disrupt the health care system across the nation with technology that allows physicians access to equipment and supplies that once bound them to offices.

Here’s how it typically works: patients can contact the services through an online app, the website or simply make a phone call. A staff member takes information about the person’s symptoms and determines if a house call is the appropriate method of treatment.

Anyone with an emergency is urged to call 9-1-1. Otherwise, the staff member schedules an appointment and sends the care team to the patient’s home. A mobile unit arrives with everything available at a traditional urgent care center.

DispatchHealth, a Denver-based company, offers in-home services in 10 markets across eight states. Florida is not one of those states, but according to its website,  the company is “coming soon” to Tampa.

It accepts most forms of insurance and says those with private insurance plans can expect to pay about $50 per visit. For those without insurance, services are available for a flat fee of $275.

DispatchHealth spokeswoman Andrea Pearson confirmed that the company will begin offering services to Tampa in 2020 but did not provide further details.

She said the house call services are “ideal for seniors and people who have frequent needs for acute medical care” as well as for those “who think the emergency room is their only option.”

The new doctor’s offices on wheels are getting the attention of more than just potential patients. A four-year-old tech startup called Heal has raised more than $75 million in venture capital and is backed by celebrity investors such as Lionel Richie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Unlike Dispatch Health, which defines its role as an urgent care partner with established health care providers, Heal also provides preventive and primary care.

“It’s a concept for health care that is so simple, so cost-effective and so personal,” Richie told CNBC. “Patients love the individualized attention. Doctors love the fact they can practice medicine without all the administrative paperwork and expense of operating an office or clinic.”

Bush, who also sits on the Heal’s board, said the company, which now serves nine metro areas, told the network that he sees Heal eventually going national.

“There are managed-care companies interested in partnering with Heal, and doctors love it,” he said. “But scaling services in each market will take time.”

Even the federal government has gotten in on the act. A pilot project that was approved along with the Affordable Care Act incentivizes house calls for chronically ill Medicare patients in an attempt to keep them out of emergency rooms and lower health care costs.

The Independence at Home program reported a total savings of $24.7 million during the first three years, which included 10,000 patients in 15 locations.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, statistics from the fifth year in 2017 found that costs were reduced by an average of $2,711 per patient, about 8.4 percent below target expenditures.

In 2018, Congress extended the program until the end of 2020.

“Home-based primary care allows health care providers to spend more time with their patients, perform assessments in a patient’s home, and assume greater accountability for all aspects of the patient’s care,” according to Medicare officials.

“This focus on timely and appropriate care is designed to improve overall quality of care and quality of life for patients served while lowering health care costs by forestalling the need for care in institutional settings.”

Florida Flu Cases on the Rise in 2019

January 6th, 2020

With the peak of flu season upcoming, it’s important to look back at beginning of the 2019-2020 flu season, as the number of people catching influenza is already outpacing what physicians have seen in the past.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 16 outbreaks were reported during the week of Nov. 23, up from nine the week before. Of those, nine were confirmed influenza, while seven were illness with flu-like symptoms. Six counties – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Collier, Lake and Escambia – reported five or more new cases that week.

Schools across the Sunshine State have been the hardest hit this year, unlike previous seasons where facilities serving older adults reported more cases.

Overall infection rates remain mild in most Florida counties, however. The predominant strain so far has been B Victoria, which has symptoms that mimic Strain A. However, unlike strain A, influenza B is contracted only by humans. This allows strain A to spread faster than B, which makes a pandemic less likely.

A prevalence of strain B early in the season is rare, and it could mean that folks are in for a second wave caused by stain A. Last year, a second wave hit and extended the flu season through spring. The last time that strain B dominated nationally was during the 1992-93 season. However, experts say the 2019-20 season appears to pose less of a threat.

“Overall, this season has not been as scary. Of course, it’s still early,’’ Ogbonnaya Omenka, assistant professor and public health specialist at Butler University told USA Today. “So far, different health departments have been able to contain it in ways that have allowed us not to have some type of significant outbreak or problem.’’

Nationally, activity continues to increase but the amount of activity and flu strains vary by region. Also, four of 10 regions in the United States were at or above their baselines in the number of visits to outpatient providers, with 2.9 percent of all visits reported as flu-like illnesses. That’s up from 2.4 percent reported during each of the past three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu has already killed five pediatric patients this season.

As for this year’s vaccine, it’s still too soon to determine its effectiveness. However, the fact that World Health Organization changed the strains for the upcoming season in the Southern Hemisphere may indicate what one epidemiologist described as “a mismatch.”

That said, a vaccine still gives you better odds that you would get in Vegas and are still available in most areas. Health care providers say it’s never too late to get one. In addition to a vaccine, other ways of preventing the spread of flu are to avoid being around people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and of course, regular handwashing. Here are tips on proper handwashing techniques.

Researchers say psychedelic substance found in mushrooms may prove to be magic for mental health

December 24th, 2019

Critics encourage use of less risky alternatives.

The term “magic mushrooms” typically conjures images of hippies in tie-dyed t-shirts tripping out while listening to psychedelic rock music during the 1960s. However, the reputation of the fungi that is synonymous with the counterculture is changing.

Recent scientific studies at leading academic institutions point to promising results in the use of psilocybin, the hallucinogen in these mushrooms, for treating some of the most challenging mental health issues as well as addiction. This shift in mindset has also resulted in some cities and states moving to decriminalize possession of “shrooms.”

After nearly 20 years of research with psychedelics, Johns Hopkins Medicine announced the launch of a $17 million privately funded research center to study the potential for the drugs to treat severe mental health and addiction issues. The announcement follows the work of two professors who gave psilocybin to more than 350 volunteers who suffered from depression, anxiety or addiction. The ultimate goal of the center is to focus on the most challenging problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, opioid addictions and major depression and anxiety.

Some test subjects shared their experiences with psilocybin during a recent segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine. All reported relief from debilitating depression and addictions to smoking and alcohol. One woman who had advanced cancer said she no longer feared death.

“This is extraordinarily interesting” the center’s director and professor of behavioral biology, Roland Griffiths, told reporter Anderson Cooper. “It’s unprecedented and the capacity of the human organism to change. It was just astounding.”

Researchers say the drug quiets two parts of the brain that talk to each other while opening up communication lines among parts of the brain that don’t. This results in a loss of identity and accounts for the subject’s ability to perceive things differently.

Subjects, who are screened for psychotic behavior, are given large doses of the drug and monitored for six hours by a trained guide while in a special study room. They lie on a couch with a blanket, sleep mask and wear headphones that play classical or choral music.

Griffiths and his assistant director, who won FDA approval for the studies in 2000, told CBS that about a third of the subjects reported unpleasant experiences while on the drug. He said they have no way of predicting who will have a pleasant, deeply spiritual experience and who will have a “bad trip.”

However, those who reported nightmarish experiences said those proved to be the key to improving their outcomes.

Stories like these, along with the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, have prompted some cities to relax laws dealing with possession of such mushrooms.

In May, Denver voters passed a ballot measure to decriminalize psilocybin and direct local law enforcement to give psychedelic mushrooms the lowest arrest priority for adults 21 and older. The council in Oakland, California, also voted to loosen its mushroom laws soon after Denver. Advocates in other parts of California and in Oregon now are pushing for the same.

In Florida, the situation is complicated. Possession of psilocybin remains illegal. However, in 1978 the Florida Supreme Court found that mushrooms could not be reasonably found to be “containers” of the drug. The court essentially held that if the Florida Legislature wished to outlaw wild psilocybin mushrooms, it would have to name them in the law. So far, lawmakers have not done so.

This is why when Florida Fish and Wildlife officers catch suspected “Shroom hunters,” they typically charge them with removing plant life from a wildlife management area, as it’s hard to prove they intended to use the mushrooms to get high.

Reformers hope that the research will change the stereotypes related to psychedelics, which were banned from being studied in 1970 after they became equated with the hippies and liberalism. Also, scandal resulted after it became known that the CIA gave LSD to people without their knowledge in an attempt to develop a mind control program during the 1950s and 60s.

Critics say that other treatments are available that work on depression, including ketamine, a common anesthetic that won FDA approval for depression after researchers at Yale University spent two decades studying it. This year, it came out in the form of a nasal spray that patients give themselves while in a physician’s office.

“Depression is a brain disease,” said Robert Pollack, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist from Fort Myers. “It’s not just a moment in time.”

The Yale studies have shown that depression is caused by abnormalities of the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate, which are responsible for most activities in the brain. Ketamine, which Dr. Pollack offers at his practice, triggers glutamate production.

He also expressed concerns that the recent coverage of psilocybin studies might endanger lives by encouraging people to experiment on their own.

“The media just sensationalizes this because it’s about psychedelic drugs,” he said. “It’s irresponsible journalism.”

If you want to know just how dangerous psychedelics can be, he said, “Ask any emergency room doctors who treated patients who took LSD in the 1960s and 70s. The problems they saw were terrible.”

Buy Safe Toys During Season Of Giving

December 9th, 2019

The wrong toys can cause serious injuries or death.

It’s the season of giving and that means toys. Whether they’re given to children during Christmas or Hanukkah or donated to toy drives or pediatric hospitals, toys can put smiles on the faces of those who give and those who receive.

However, toys that are unsafe and inappropriate for a child’s developmental stage can be harmful and even cause injuries that send kids to the emergency room.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 226,100 toy-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States in 2018.

Of those injuries, an estimated 73-percent happened to children younger than 15, and 37-percent of those injured were younger than 5. And nearly half of all those injuries involved the head and face.

So, before you go on that holiday shopping spree, here are some important things to keep in mind when toy shopping.

“Those developmental ages on the box are important,” says Joe Perno, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. He says choking is the most common accident among younger children, who tend to put things in their mouths. Small parts can be dangerous, especially magnets and button batteries.

“You’ve just got to be very cautious with the toys to make sure the parts are appropriate,” he says.

Toys intended for older children should be kept away from younger siblings to ensure they don’t swallow small parts. Also, children with special needs will require toys for ages that match their developmental stage as opposed to their chronological age.

Other safety tips include:

  • Check for recalls. You can find the most updated list here.
  • To avoid shocks and burns, do not give children under the age of 10 a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy battery-operated toys for those children.
  • Children can suffocate on broken or underinflated balloons. Do not allow children younger than age 8 to play with them.

If donating toys to a pediatric hospital, consult the hospital’s website or child life department to see what they are able to accept. Most hospitals are unable to accept stuffed animals due to infection control issues. Also, with a few exceptions, toys must be new, unwrapped and latex-free. All video games should be rated E or E 10-plus.

If donating to a toy drive, consult their websites. Most will not accept toys that include weapons or promote violence because possessing them can endanger children in some areas.

If giving toys such as scooters, bicycles, skateboards or roller blades, always include protective gear, especially a helmet.

If giving toys that include foam projectiles, always make sure protective eyewear is included, and the children use it.

“Every year, we’ll see an eye injury from this,” Dr. Perno says.

You can find more toy safety tips at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

One and Done

Single implant among restoration options for replacing failing or missing teeth.

Photo by Jordan Pysz

Implant surgery put the finishing touches on Michelle’s flawless smile.

Michelle Wireman is a busy mom, an active runner and a dedicated health care professional who has spent the past 21 years literally breathing life into people who struggle with one of the body’s most critical functions.

“I’m a respiratory therapist,” Michelle explains. “I operate lifesupport machines, give breathing treatments and provide rehabilitation to patients with conditions such as emphysema, asthma, cystic fibrosis and COPD.

“My entire career has been in health care. I started out as a nurse’s aide when I was fifteen, and I was talking to a respiratory therapist one day who suggested I look into respiratory therapy. I did, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

An Indiana native, Michelle moved to Zephyrhills when she was 25. She raised her daughter there but later moved to St. Petersburg to enjoy the beach life. All through those moves, she’s fought a constant battle with her teeth.

“I’m one of those unlucky people who doesn’t have perfectly strong teeth,” says the 49-year-old, whose dental troubles mounted some 15 years ago when a cavity developed in a lower left molar.

“I was a single parent at the time, and I really couldn’t afford to get it fixed,” Michelle explains. “The cavity eventually got to a point where it was unfixable, and it was either get an implant or have the tooth removed. So…”

Her dentist removed the tooth. For the next 15 years, Michelle made do while she put her daughter through college. During that time, she limited chewing to the right side of her mouth to avoid discomfort.

Once her daughter was finished with college, Michelle decided to get some restorative work done on her teeth. That commitment took her to a dentist who restored her failing teeth. That left only the gap where the molar used to be.

To correct that, one dentist suggested Michelle would need two implants. Thinking that was unnecessary, she visited another dentist who also recommended a dental implant but referred her to Jason B. Blundell, DDS, a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Coastal Jaw Surgery, which has locations throughout Tampa Bay.

A Conservative Approach

During his initial consultation with her, Dr. Blundell immediately earned Michelle’s trust by explaining to her that a single implant was all she would need to gain the stability necessary to support a replacement tooth.

“I felt really confident with what Dr. Blundell had to say, what he was going to do,” Michelle recalls. “I could tell he had my best interest in mind, and so I agreed that we would go ahead and do the one implant.”

Dental implants are titanium-based root shaped screws that are surgically placed into the jawbone. A single implant supports an abutment and a crown that are attached to the implant, creating a new tooth. Two or more implants can support a fixed bridge.

Once they’re placed into the jawbone, dental implants typically require between two to four months to heal. It is at that point that the abutment and crown can be added. During the waiting period, patients typically wear temporary crowns or a bridge.

Depending on how long the teeth have been missing, some patients may need to undergo a bone-grafting procedure to ensure they have enough bone to support the implants.

“I’ve had a lot of other dental work done, and I’ve had other surgeons, but this is the best I’ve ever had, and it was a flawless surgery. It went perfectly.” – Michelle

In some cases, the bonegrafting procedure can be done at the same time the implant is placed. In others, the bonegrafting procedure is done first, and the new bone is given time – anywhere between three and six months – to heal before the implant is placed.

Dr. Blundell points out that many options are available when it comes to implants. He works to educate each patient on what treatment will provide the best results.

“If a patient comes to me and they have a single tooth that needs to be extracted, we typically extract the tooth, possibly place an implant at the same time as the extraction, and then allow that area to heal for a period of time. The restoring dentist then provides the crown, or the fake tooth, that goes onto that implant.”

When multiple teeth are failing, Dr. Blundell says he can place multiple implants in the jaw and connect an implant-supported fixed bridge or denture. In some cases, Dr. Blundell partners with the practice’s prosthodontist, Philip Hedger, DMD, to provide sameday service for failing teeth.

“We set the patient up for a surgery date, where we extract the remaining teeth and place multiple dental implants,” Dr. Blundell says. “Dr. Hedger is then able to place a temporary prosthesis or a denture that is screwed onto those implants on that same day, and the patient typically goes home after the surgery with that in place.”

Over the next four months, Dr. Hedger is able to tweak the temporary teeth until the permanent bridge or denture is available.

Seamless Solution

Because Michelle was missing only a single tooth, Dr. Blundell was able to treat her using a single implant. She also required a bone graft, but Dr. Blundell was able to perform the bone graft and place the implant at the same time.

“I had very little swelling and very little pain going forward after that,” Michelle says. “I didn’t really even have any bruising either. The whole procedure went seamlessly, and I liked that.”

After placing her implant and overseeing her healing, Dr. Blundell sent Michelle back to her dentist six months later for a permanent crown.

“There were quite a few steps to it, but everything was just flawless the entire time,” Michelle says of her experience with Coastal Jaw Surgery. “It’s nice to have a tooth again. It looks great, and it’s really stable.”

She says she would recommend Dr. Blundell and Coastal Jaw Surgery to anyone who needs implants.

“I’ve had a lot of other dental work done, and I’ve had other surgeons, but this is the best I’ve ever had, and it was a flawless surgery,” she exudes. “It went perfectly. I can eat on both sides [of my mouth] now.

“And I can’t say enough about the staff and the facility, which was beautiful and very clean. Everyone was extremely friendly and very helpful. Dr. Blundell is very friendly and very honest.

“He was very good at explaining exactly what the procedure was going to be like and what to expect. He was conservative with what he chose to do, and the choices he made weren’t really about making money. They were about what was going to be best for me.”


Care with a Heart

Marketing relations director sees his job as a calling.

When Todd Brown was born, his parents were already middle-aged.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Todd Brown

“They had me when they were in their early forties,” explains Todd, the new marketing relations director at Savannah Court of Orange City. “I had a very unusual upbringing.  It was very much like Beaver Cleaver.

“I had my mother at home; my father had weekends off. We would take wonderful trips. We took a cruise when I was six years old. None of the other kids I knew who had parents in their twenties were doing things like that.”

Having older parents also meant that Todd became a caregiver at a younger age than many people. For example, when she was 68, Todd’s mother suffered a stroke. Todd helped care for her during her seven-month recovery.

Motivated by a desire to give back some of what they gave him, Todd also helped his parents get to their medical and dental appointments, and later, when his father needed to be moved into a senior living community, Todd found a home for him mostly on his own.

“It was not an easy search,” he says. “There were very few communities available. There was very little information out about them, and there wasn’t a lot of information available to me or the doctors, so I had to do all the work myself.”

All those experiences strongly influenced Todd’s career path. Before moving to Florida two years ago and joining the staff of Savannah Court of Orange City, he worked as a marketer for an elder law firm in California.

“I placed a lot of our clients in senior housing that was appropriate to their needs,” he recalls. “Not everyone is appropriate for every type of senior housing, so I built relationships with people, and I learned a lot about where you don’t want to place people because their needs cannot be met.

Exceeding Expectations

Todd has now brought his passion for senior care to Savannah Court of Orange City. Nestled just 20 minutes between Metro Orlando and Daytona Beach, Savannah Court of Orange City provides residents with a cozy, small-town ambiance while also offering all the amenities necessary to maintain an active lifestyle. For active people who seek relief from household maintenance and chores, Savannah Court of Orange City is the perfect place not only to meet their needs but exceed their expectations.

“This is a place where we enhance people’s lives,” Todd says. “This is a place where our residents can leave behind the drudgery of housework, preparing their meals and washing their clothes, because we take care of all that for them.

“We also manage our residents’ medications, and make sure they are properly nourished. Our residents are able to have a wonderful life when they move here, and that’s what we strive for. We make assisted living something people want to go to.”

Warm Welcome

Todd says he has already met residents who inspire him and make him feel great about joining the staff at Savannah Court. They are quick to introduce him to their spouses and pets and make him feel at home.

“It’s very much like a family here,” describes Todd, who is quick to note that pets are also a welcome part of the family at Savannah Court, where two small pets are allowed per apartment.

“Dogs and cats can be a very integral part of your family, so when you move into an assisted living community, you should not have to give them up,” he states.

Other amenities include screened lanais, where residents like to enjoy morning coffee; lunch outings at a variety of restaurants, and various forms of entertainment.

“It’s really a very charming community,” Todd says. “When I wake up at three o’clock in the morning, my head is thinking, What can I do to make this better? How can I enhance these people’s lives further?


A Better Way to Beat Lyme Disease

Customized care helps busy CEO reclaim her life.

Jimmelynn Garland Rice

Jimmelynn Garland Rice has always been known as an energy powerhouse. A high school teacher and pastor’s wife, she founded Girls Nite In International®, a non-profit group to help girls in the greater Indianapolis area work through self-esteem issues and make wise life choices.

Though initially designed to aid girls locally, the organization quickly went global. When Jimmelynn traveled to Argentina to help launch a chapter there in 2015, life was a huge wave, and she was riding its crest.

Shortly after returning home from Argentina, however, the wave crashed.

“I had been a blessed leader with a high capacity for life and relationships, capable of sustaining a high level of stress and productivity,” says the woman with the big smile and bigger personality. “But in 2015, I began noticing that I was really sick, desperately sick, and something was desperately wrong with my body.”

That “something” manifested itself as severe exhaustion that depleted Jimmelynn to the core.

“I should not be here, but I am the most grateful girl on the planet. And I’ll credit that to the two G’s in my life – God and Dr. Gordon Crozier.” – Jimmelynn

“It was all I could do many days just to crawl from the bed to the bathroom,” she says. “It was like plugging your cell phone into the charger at night and hoping that when you wake up the next morning, it’s powered up to one hundred percent.

“But I would wake up and feel like my body had only two percent power. Maybe I could walk to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee, but I couldn’t do anything else. Or if I was able to take a shower, that took all of my energy.”

Jimmelynn’s struggles became so great that simple tasks such as writing an email, something that used to take her three minutes, instead took three hours. Then there were the constant headaches.

“It was like somebody was taking a drill into both sides of my cranium and drilling tighter and tighter,” she describes. “It was like I had a VISE-GRIP® on top of my head. The headaches were excruciating. It was like my brain was going to literally explode.”

Searching for Answers

Unable to work, Jimmelynn went to her primary care physician for help. The doctor ran many specialized tests, but nothing pointed to a condition. She then went from specialist to specialist in search of an answer. Each gave her a different diagnosis: stroke, adrenal failure, burnout.

A three-month sabbatical provided no relief. Then, about six months later, Jimmelynn found herself struggling on the stage at the church in Indiana where her husband serves as senior pastor. After leading worship at the piano, Jimmelynn typically walks to the podium and welcomes the worshipers.

“But this time, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other,” she recalls. “It took a long time to just walk over to the podium. Then when I tried to speak, I was struggling for every word to piece together a sentence. I teared up and looked over at my husband as if to say, Help me, because I couldn’t make sense and couldn’t speak, so I had to be taken home.”

For most in the congregation, seeing their pastor’s wife undermined by her health problems was not unusual. But as fate would have it, one visitor, Gordon J. Crozier, DO, was able to do more than pray for her recovery.

Dr. Crozier is the medical director of the Crozier Clinic in Lake Mary, where he treats illness and injury on a cellular level by integrating natural healing methods and traditional medicine. He is also a leader in the research and application of integrative medicine and a pioneer in genetics-based medicine.

As a child, Dr. Crozier contracted Lyme disease, an infectious disease spread by ticks. Originally, however, his doctors misdiagnosed the ailment as Bell’s palsy, a condition caused by a virus in which the muscles on half the face are contracted.

Upon seeing Jimmelynn, Dr. Crozier turned to his wife seated beside him. “I said, Oh my goodness, she has Lyme disease,” Dr. Crozier remembers. “You could tell by the look in her eyes.”

Dr. Crozier, who attends the church where Jimmelynn and her husband were preaching whenever he and his wife visit family in Indiana, soon made a house call to Jimmelynn and examined her medical records.

He later performed a blood test called a Western blot, which is recommended for diagnosing Lyme disease. It confirmed Dr. Crozier’s suspicion that Jimmelynn did indeed have the disease.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Jimmelynn does not recall being bitten but suspects she contracted the disease during her mission trip to Argentina.

The most common initial sign of infection is an expanding area of redness known as erythema migrans. The rash, which often looks like a bullseye, is neither itchy nor painful, and Dr. Crozier says that half of all infected people don’t develop a rash and may not realize they are infected until it’s too late.

Other early symptoms may include fever, headache and fatigue. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause paralysis, severe headaches, joint stiffness and pain, heart palpitations and other physical and neurological problems.

Customized Care Brings Relief

Jimmelynn Garland Rice

Traditional treatments for Lyme disease include antibiotics, but Dr. Crozier says antibiotics don’t always work in severe cases because the bacteria morphs very rapidly and becomes resistant to antibiotics within 72 hours.

“Because people’s genetics are different, not every treatment works with every person, so a degree of trial and error exists in the treatment of Lyme disease,” Dr. Crozier adds. “But I have honed things down to looking at a person’s genetics to see what will work and what won’t work.”

What wound up working for Jimmelynn, who moved to the Orlando area and spent six months undergoing Dr. Crozier’s individualized treatment, was a combination of Vitamin B and amino acids that were given intravenously to boost her immune system.

Dr. Crozier also prescribed injections of peptides and intravenous lipid washing to cleanse cell membranes and mitochondria, where energy production occurs. Those treatments helped rid Jimmelynn’s body of the toxins that the bacteria produce.

Dr. Crozier says most of the patients he treats for Lyme disease begin to notice an improvement in how they feel six weeks after their treatments begin. He notes, though, that complete healing takes about three months.

“I tell people they’re not going to feel tip-top until about ninety days after they finish treatment,” Dr. Crozier says. “That’s because cells have a turnover rate of ninety days. So in ninety days, your cells begin to replicate newer, healthier cells. That’s when you begin to see the biggest difference.”

In Jimmelynn’s case, it took about eight weeks for her to notice a change because of the severity of her illness. But at that point, she was able to enjoy occasional dinner dates with her husband.

Today, she’s back in Indiana, helping girls navigate life through her non-profit. She still visits the Crozier Clinic, but only “once in a while,” for a booster IV to ensure she does not experience a regression.

“I should not be here, but I am the most grateful girl on the planet,” she says. “And I credit that to the two G’s in my life – God and Dr. Gordon Crozier. Not only is he a brilliant Lyme specialist, but he is an incredible geneticist and brilliant researcher and scientist.

“I recommend him, because I trust my body completely to him. When he treats you, he is repairing you and bringing healing to your body one cell at a time, and that is the only reason I am here carrying out my mission.”

Photos courtesy of Jimmelynn Garland Rice.


Amid his own battle with the disease, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek participates in pancreatic cancer PSA.

November 11th, 2019

Game show host Alex Trebek, who has battled pancreatic cancer since March, has teamed up with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to star in a public service announcement aimed at raising awareness and donations for research.

“In nearly every country, pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits,” Trebek said in the clip, filmed on the set of Jeopardy!, which he has hosted for 36 seasons. “Now, in order to help patients fight and survive this disease, more attention and awareness are needed. And that’s why I’ve joined forces with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, to help raise global awareness of the risk and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.”

The PSA came out on Nov. 1, which marked the start of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Pancreatic cancer accounts for 3 percent of all the cancers in the United States and 7 percent of all cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society projects that about 56,770 people (29,940 men and 26,830 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer by the end of this year. About 45,750 people (23,800 men and 21,950 women) are expected to die from the disease this year.

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not well understood, though risk factors include age and family history. The disease is slightly more prevalent in men than in women. African-Americans and Ashkenazi Jews also report more pancreatic cancer cases. Lifestyle choices such as a diet high in red and processed meat consumption, heavy drinking or smoking also may play a role. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may lower risk.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. Soon after, surgeons removed her pancreas and spleen. Actors John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon all died from pancreatic cancer. Other notables who lost their lives include Sally Ride, the first female astronaut in space, legendary Oakland Raider Gene Upshaw, Benjamin Orr, co-founder of the 1980s band, The Cars, and Charlotte Rae, the wise boarding school house mom in the hit TV show “The Facts of Life.” Apple founder Steve Jobs and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin each died after being diagnosed with pancreatic tumors, though not cancer.

No screenings for pancreatic cancer exist, which is why it’s important to get checked out if you have any of the symptoms. Often, the disease is diagnosed in its late stages, which makes treatment more challenging. Trebek’s cancer had already reached stage four when doctors diagnosed him.

“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek said during the clip.

Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new onset diabetes, stool changes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.

To help determine if you have pancreatic cancer, your doctor will ask you about your family history, perform an exam that includes looking at your body, skin and eyes and pressing on your abdomen to check for changes around the pancreas, liver and gallbladder, and possibly order blood, urine and stool tests. Your doctor also will order an imaging study such as computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and get a tissue sample called a biopsy.

Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these. You may also have opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

For more information about pancreatic cancer and to see Trebek’s PSA, visit the Pancreatic Action Network.



National Diabetes Awareness Month:

November 6th, 2019

Time to turn sugar highs into sugar lows.

It’s fitting that the day after the sugar high of Halloween marks the start of National Diabetes Month.

No doubt the folks who came up with the idea for a low-sugar awareness month figured this to be a good time to start keeping it real before the pumpkin pie, chocolate peppermint brownies and sugar cookies start to derail our diets. And well they should.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. And another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In Florida, it is estimated that more than 2.4 million people have diabetes and more than 5.8 million have prediabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The numbers are expected to get worse as the population continues to age, with 54.9 million Americans diagnosed in 2030, according to a study by the Institute for Alternative Futures, analyzed by PsyD  Programs. That’s an increase of 38 percent from current rates.

The study estimates that 5,393,800 Floridians will have diabetes in 11 years. That’s 19.8 percent of the state’s population and puts Florida as the second-highest state in the nation for diabetes cases. The top state is expected to be West Virginia, with 20.5 percent. The three states with the lowest percentages are Utah, Alaska and Colorado, each with slightly more than 10 percent.

When broken down by metro area, Miami leads the nation with 18.8 percent of the population projected to be diabetic in 2030. The lowest metro is Minneapolis, with 11.7 percent.

“Diabetes is a very serious disease affecting millions of Americans, but it can be managed with a healthy lifestyle,” says Florida Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “This year, I encourage you to know your risk factors for diabetes and act as a support system for those in your life who may be affected by the disease.”

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). Women with diabetes have more difficulty conceiving and may have poor pregnancy outcomes, so it is especially important for women to be aware of their risk factors for developing diabetes, including having a family history of diabetes as well as age, weight, and physical activity level.

The good news, especially for those with prediabetes, is that it can be prevented. A healthy diet, regular exercise and medical monitoring can go a long way toward ensuring that diabetes never gains a foothold.

Some feel smoothies are filled with sugar. It’s true for many store-bought options, but at home you’re in total control.

That’s important because adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.

This year, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is emphasizing that tie-in to cardiovascular health.  Here are their tips to take control of your health:

  • Stop smoking or using other tobacco products.
  • Manage your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits – be more physically active and learn ways to manage stress.
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.

Yes, that also includes throwing out that bag of candy corn you bought on clearance.  For more information about diabetes and what you can do to prevent, control it or support a loved one, click here.


Retinal Detachment

Early diagnosis key to avoiding vision loss.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Heather (left) had a great experience with
Dr. Kumar and the staff at Florida Retina Institute.

Heather Thompson is a busy, stay-at-home mom to three daughters, ages 14, 13 and 9. She volunteers at their schools and enjoys being active with them, whether it’s paddle boarding, bicycling, swimming or just hanging out at the beach.

“We decided that when we had kids that I was going to stay home and take care of them and focus on them,” the 43-year-old Port Orange native says. “I also love to work out. Any kind of physical activity is fun for me. But I get my downtime, too.”

Heather’s busy schedule gives her a lot to keep up with. It also gives her a lot to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, vision problems have been an issue for Heather since before she started going to school.

“My mom noticed when I was little that I would squint when I would look to grab my cup of water or something off the table, so she took me to the eye doctor, and I’ve been wearing eyeglasses ever since I was about three,’’ Heather relates.

Later, while in elementary school, Heather had to wear a patch on her left eye to correct lazy eye. That condition was eventually corrected, but she wore glasses for reading all through junior high and high school.

Heather’s vision remained steady while she was in college, but several years later, in January 2018, she started to suffer from eye strain, blurred vision and floaters. She went to her eye doctor and got new glasses, thinking that would solve the problem.

It didn’t. Six months later, during another visit to her eye doctor, a cataract was discovered in Heather’s right eye. A specialist later confirmed the diagnosis but suspected a retinal problem behind the cataract.

A retinal specialist confirmed the retinal problem, which was diagnosed as a chronic detached retina. He wanted to do surgery the next day, but that seemed like a drastic move to Heather, who wanted to get a second opinion before going under the knife.

Her research led her to Florida Retina Institute and Jaya Kumar, MD.

Like Peeling Wallpaper

After an exam and tests, Dr. Kumar confirmed the detached retina diagnosis, which was near the center of the retina. That area, called the macula, enables people to see  images directly in front of them.

“You can think of the retina like film in a traditional camera,” Dr. Kumar explains. “It’s the lining on the back of the eye. It plays a very important role in transferring light images, and it processes that information and sends it to the brain so that we can actually see an image.

“Whenever there’s a disruption in the retina, it interupts our ability to see. And with a retinal detachment, you have a tear in the retina that causes fluid to go underneath the retina.

“I describe it to my patients as wallpaper coming off the wall. It’s almost like it’s peeling off, so our job with a retinal detachment is to flatten out the retina, put that wallpaper back on the wall so those images can be processed, and you can see again.

“The most common symptoms we see with detached retinas are flashing lights or what some people describe as sparkling lights in their vision, and floaters, where you may start seeing a couple of what one patient described as champagne bubbles.

“I’ve had some patients describe floaters as just seeing cobwebs in their vision. A third symptom would be a ‘curtain’ coming over their vision, so suddenly, it looks like one part of their visual field is missing.”

“I had a good experience with Florida Retina Institute from the time I walked in to the time I walked out. Dr. Kumar is extremely warm and compassionate. That’s what I love about her.” – Heather

Dr. Kumar says the condition often happens spontaneously as the vitreous, a naturally occurring gel in the eye, starts to separate from the retina. This often happens as people age, but trauma, eye inflammation, diabetes and nearsightedness elevate the risk.

Small focal tears can be sealed in the doctor’s office with a freezing probe or medical laser. Larger or multiple tears require surgery in an operating room.

“We remove the gel from the back of the eye, flatten the retina, and apply a laser barricade around the tears,” Dr. Kumar says.

“Then we usually put a gas bubble or silicone oil inside the eye that will help keep the retina flat. Another component is adding a scleral buckle, which is a silicone band that is placed on the exterior part of the eye to further support the retina.”

Because the eye naturally produces its own fluid, removing the gel does not cause an issue. The gas bubble dissolves in two to eight weeks, although the oil requires an additional surgery three to six months later to have it removed. Recovery time from surgery can take several weeks. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the easier it is to correct, Dr. Kumar stresses.

“Retinal detachment is not uncommon,” she notes. “And it’s important that if you do have symptoms, you have them evaluated to make sure you don’t have a tear or detachment. The sooner you come in, the better the chances are we can fix it, if it’s small, in the clinic, and you can avoid surgery.”

While fairly common and easily fixed, a detached retina is serious, Dr. Kumar warns. Failure to treat the condition could result in permanent vision loss.

“A Good Experience”

Because Heather’s case was chronic, it did require surgery, which was performed after her cataract was removed. During the surgery, Dr. Kumar removed the gel in Heather’s right eye and inserted the gas bubble to keep the retina flat. She also added the scleral buckle to further support the retina.

“It took about four to six weeks for recovery,” Heather says.

A follow-up visit a month after the surgery showed no issues.

“It had healed properly, and things were looking good for the retina,” Heather says. “It’s healthy and attached.”

Heather, who has experienced eye problems off and on during her lifetime, still has to wear glasses to see clearly and is now seeing a cornea specialist for additional treatment unrelated to her retinal issue.

She also sees Dr. Kumar every six months to ensure her retinas remain healthy. Her retinal surgery, meanwhile, has allowed Heather to resume her busy lifestyle of keeping up with three girls.

“I had a good experience with Florida Retina Institute from the time I walked in to the time I walked out,” Heather says. “Dr. Kumar is extremely warm and compassionate. That’s what I love about her.

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