SIMEDHealth

Back to School Means Back-To-School Physicals

First Care of Gainesville is offering “Back to School” physicals for sports programs, school entrance requirements and other school activities!

If you need to get your kids in for a physical, walk-in anytime or contact our office and schedule an appointment today! First Care, SIMED’s Urgent Care clinic in Gainesville, FL is offering “Back to School” physicals for high school and below sports programs, school entrance requirements and other school activities.

First Care’s Board Certified Family Medicine physicians and experienced physician assistants are here to take care of your urgent care health needs. Our on-site labs, x-ray and specialized radiology departments provide speedy/ rapid results to support your health care. Referrals to our in-house specialists are seamless and provide integrated services throughout your care. Why go anywhere else?

Also remember Flu season is coming and flu shots will be available in the first week of September. Although the flu season doesn't typically begin until October, flu cases were reported early last year. Flu shots are recommended for anyone aged six months or older.

First Care is open Monday – Friday 7:00am – 6:00pm. You can reach us at (352) 373-2340 or click here to request an appointment online.

Be prepared this year with Immunization & Vaccines

Be prepared this year with Immunization & Vaccines

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) The goal of NIAM is to increase awareness about immunizations across the lifespan, from infants to the elderly. August is an ideal time to make sure everyone is up-to-date on vaccines before heading back to school and to plan ahead to receive flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is an easy way to stay healthy all year round. During the month of August, take the time to make sure that you and your loved ones have received all of the vaccinations you need.

- "National Immunization Awareness Month." Vaccines.gov

Dr. David Lefkowitz, a Family Medicine physician at SIMED Primary Care answers some questions and brings some light on the importance of immunizations and how they prevent you and your family from getting sick.

1. Will you give a brief explanation of what immunizations are?

Immunizations are the “shots” we have all come to expect when we go to the pediatrician; they are also called vaccines. Of course, these vaccines are not just for kids but are recommended for adults as well. Vaccines stimulate your own immune system to create antibodies against diseases.

2. Why is it important to get vaccinated?

There are two reasons:

  • One, it helps protect you from getting severely sick from the bacteria or virus you are getting vaccinated against. Having antibodies ready-to-go is like having an army of soldier’s ready-to-fight the disease as soon as possible.
  • Second, it helps protect folks who can’t get vaccinated (for example patients who are on chemotherapy) by decreasing the potential spread of disease to them.

3. What are some of the most common immunizations?

The most common immunizations depends on whether the vaccines are for children or adults.

  • For children, some common vaccines include Hepatitis A and B, MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Polio, Varicella-Zoster (Chicken Pox), Diphtheria, Tetanus and the Flu vaccines.
  • As for adults, the most common vaccines include Flu shots, Pneumonia shots, the Shingles shot, Hepatitis A & B and Tetanus boosters. Of course there are many other vaccines but these are the most common.

4. How can someone get a vaccination?

A visit to their primary care doctor is usually all that is needed. Some of the less commonly used vaccines, for example those associated with traveling to third world countries may not be carried at your primary care office. However these can commonly be ordered in to receive at a later time, or the local health department can be a good source of the travel vaccines.

5. Can a shot make you sick?

It is possible, but thankfully rare. The overall benefits of vaccinations clearly outweigh the possible short term risks. However, local reactions (arm soreness, redness, and swelling) can be seen but are not dangerous and usually resolve on their own after a short period of time. Low grade fevers can be seen for the first 24-48 hours following immunization.

6. What are some other preventative ways of not getting sick?

Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands! Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you cough, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. To avoid spreading the sickness, stay home from work if you are sick.

7. Why do some vaccines require boosters?

When you get a vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies. Over time, these antibodies can decrease in number. A booster shot does what it sounds like: it “boosts” the number of antibodies so that you have plenty of soldiers to fight the disease.

8. Why is there a new flu vaccine every year?

The influenza virus is a tricky one. It has the ability to mutate into many different strains. Each year, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) decides which strains will be prevalent for the upcoming flu season and puts those strains into the flu vaccine. It’s somewhat of a guessing game (more a prediction based on data) but there’s no other way to manufacture millions of vaccines in time for flu season.

9. How do vaccines fight viruses and bacteria?

The Vaccines do not actually fight any viruses or bacteria off, they stimulate your own body’s immune system to fight off the disease. Your immune system recognizes the vaccine as “foreign” and it makes antibodies against the vaccine thus strengthening your own body’s immune system. These antibodies are then ready to fight the real disease if it gets into the body. SIMED Primary Care offers a variety of vaccinations to patients in our North Central Florida community. Here is a list of the most common vaccinations offered:

  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Pneumovax - 23 (Pneumococcal bacteria)
  • Prevnar - 13 (Pneumococcal bacteria)
  • Gardasil (HPV)
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Zostavax (Shingles)
  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Menomune/ Meningitis
  • Typhoid

Schedule an appointment with Dr. David Lefkowitz or any of our SIMED Primary Care physicians at one of our locations in Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland, McIntosh, and Lady Lake (The Villages) to review what immunizations are appropriate for you or your family. Click here to request an appointment online.

College Safety Survival Guide

College Safety Survival Guide

The start of a new college semester can be a very exciting time in a young adult’s life. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in one’s journey through college, filled with new classes, living arrangements, friends, jobs, and life experiences. These new experiences will help shape the student’s future and mold them into the adults they will become.

For many students a new semester can mean living away from home the first time. This can lead into a very stressful time in a young adult’s life and leave students with many questions especially about health and safety. Dr. Calvin Martin of First Care, SIMED’s Urgent Care facility gives us a few pointers on how students can tackle their health and safety like an adult.

Staying healthy is a plus:

By living a healthy and active lifestyle young adults will be ahead of the curve in terms of health. Make sure to follow a diet and exercise program keeps one accountable and helps them stay on track with their health plan (Adults on average need around 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise per week). Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas that may be adding extra empty calories that the body does not need. Think outside the box and get creative on how to sneak some exercise into your daily routine. Walk or jog to class, take the stairs instead of the elevator, ride a bicycle instead of driving, or join an intramural sports team such as flag football, softball, basketball, soccer, tennis or volleyball.

Don’t stress it:

According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young adults between the ages of 15 to 24, so feelings of distress or depression are not to be taken lightly. The proper amount of stress is healthy for us as it keeps us on track and motivated but too much stress can lead to unhealthy traits and habits. Ways to manage stress include getting adequate sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, get perspective by connecting socially with peers and also making sure to getting enough “me time” for oneself. If feeling overwhelmed from stress it’s a good idea to reach out to one’s family doctor or contact a local psychologist to help cope with the stress levels.

Stay protected:

The college years may be associated with new or risker sexual activity, leading to increase prevalence of STD’s among college students. Many sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented, most are treatable and also curable. According to the CDC nearly half of all new sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) occur amongst young adults under the age of 25. It is advised for sexually active young adults to be tested for STD’s including HIV and learn how to protect them and their partners. According to the CDC one in 5 college women have been sexually assaulted. Women are encouraged to protect themselves by staying in groups, never leaving a drink unattended and being aware of resources available to them should they become victim of assault.

Be cautious of the binge:

College life is known for its extracurricular activities including social events that involve alcohol at Greek social parties and bars. The CDC confirmed that 90% of drinking by youth under the age of 21 is binge drinking. Binge drinking is generally defined by 5 or more alcoholic drinks for a male and 4 for a female in a short period of time, usually considered within 2 hours. Binge drinking increase chances of problematic situations because it impairs ability to make decisions and react rapidly to situations which can lead to vehicle crashes, DUI, violence, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behavior and death.

Just Say No:

One of the most common problems in college amongst young adults is substance abuse and smoking. According to the CDC in 2013 around 21% of 18-25 year olds reported use of illicit drugs in the past month. Heroin use more than doubled among this age group in the past decade. 99% of cigarette smokers have reportedly at least tried smoking by the age of 26. Vaping has recently become very popular as a “safer” smoking alternative, be cautious however because many vaporizer pens have much stronger levels of nicotine intake per inhalation than a cigarette. For need help with substance abuse contacting 1-800-662-HELP can get you in touch with people and information to assist you with recovery.

Establish a health care provider:

Remember it is important stay connected with a primary care doctor, soon after moving into town establish a relationship with a primary care physician. SIMED Primary Care has multiple family medicine and internal medicine physicians to choose making it easy to establish with a doctor and schedule an appointment. SIMED First Care is an urgent care facility located in Gainesville in case of an emergency or if you are just seeking a walk in appointment.

Sources for this article where cited from the CDC Office of Women’s Health: Family Health (/family) March 7, 2016 for more information regarding College Health and Safety please visit cdc.gov.

Summer Time Tips

Summer Time Tips

Summer is a time for fun, relaxation, vacations and being outdoors. However, it is important to keep safety and common sense in mind to help make summer activities fun and enjoyable. Dr. Scott Wilson an Urgent Care physician at SIMED’s First Care provides summer safety tips to help you enjoy the summer season while staying safe and healthy.

BBQ/Grilling Fun

  • Never allow children to start a grill or be left alone while the grill is actively cooking.
  • Store propane gas tanks in a cool, well ventilated area.
  • Keep hands at a safe distance from the grill by using oven mitts and long handled cooking utensils.
  • Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher near the grill in case of fire.

 

Sunburn and Skin Protection

  • The best prevention methods for decreasing risk of sunburn and future skin cancer is to keep out of direct sunlight especially during the hottest times of the day which is generally between 10AM to 4PM.
  • Use sunscreen on all children over 6 months and all adults. It is best to use sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher about 15-20 minutes before going into the sun. Make sure to apply sunscreen frequently for continued skin protection.
  • The UV light from the sun can penetrate some types of clothing so it is recommended to also apply sunscreen under clothing as well as exposed skin areas, or wear clothing with UV protection.
  • Eye protection from the sun is also important. Wear sunglasses and a wide brim hat to decrease sun exposure to the eyes and prevent future eye problems later in life.
  • Do not use sunscreen on children under the age of 6 months. Infants should avoid direct sun light exposure due to the sensitivity of their skin.

 

Fun in the Water

  • Teach children never to enter the water (pool, beach, pond, etc.) without an adult present.
  • It is best to swim at beaches that have life guards present.
  • Do not allow young children easy access or unsupervised access to the backyard pool or hot tub.
  • Do not substitute swim floaties, pool noodles or inflatable toys for supervision of children in the water.
  • Use life jackets at all times when on a boat or jet-ski.

 

Fun Outdoor Activities

  • All children and adults should wear helmets when bicycling outdoors as well as following the rules of the road for safe bicycling.
  • All children and adults should wear a helmet, and bilateral elbow/wrist/knee pads while skating, skateboarding or scootering.
  • Supervise children when playing on all playground equipment and teach them safe play habits to prevent injuries to themselves and others.

 

Our Creepy, Crawly, Flying Enemies

  • Wear shoes outside to minimize bee and insect stings on the feet.
  • Use insect repellent sparingly on older children and immediately wash off when they come into the house.
  • Check your body for any ticks after being outside especially wooded areas. Contact your medical provider about removing the tick and further medical advice.
  • Never use insect repellent on infants.

 

Summer Lightning Storms

  • Seek immediate shelter.
  • Avoid using any electrical appliances or cell phones.
  • If trapped outside:
    • Crouch down low with your feet together; head tucked in and cover your ears.
    • Avoid being near tall objects or trees.
    • Discard any metal objects such as golf clubs, metal baseball bats, or fishing poles.

 

Too Much Heat, Get Out of the Sun

  • When outdoors keep well hydrated with drinking water or electrolyte restoring drinks. (Gatorade, PowerAde)
  • If you are sweating too much, this means it is time to get out of the sun or heat. Significant water and electrolytes are lost from sweating.
  • Try to limit doing things in the hot sun to 15-20 minutes at a time.
  • Take frequent breaks out of the sun such as in shaded areas or indoors with air conditioning.
  • If you have any problems with muscle cramping this can be an early warning that you are becoming dehydrated. Get into a cool environment immediately and start rehydrating until the muscle cramp resolve.
  • Two serious medical conditions can occur from prolonged heat exposure:
    • Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, headache, muscle cramping, rapid heart rate, nausea, and skin is pale, clammy and cold. Get out of the sun and heat immediately and go into a cool environment. Contact your medical provider, seek medical attention or call 911.
    • Heat Stroke (emergency medical condition): Symptoms include red and hot skin no longer sweating, rapid heart rate, headache, confusion, delirium, severe muscle cramps, or vomiting. Get out of the sun and heat immediately and go into a cool environment. Seek medical attention or call 911 emergently.

 

Florida is known for its hot weather so be sure to follow these safety tips while out in the heat or sun. Here at SIMED we want to make sure our patients are educated in how to keep a healthy and safe lifestyle. If you need to schedule an appointment with us you can request one online or over the phone at (352) 224- 2200.

STDs, and What You Need To Know

April is STD Awareness Month and Dr. Scott Wilson of First Care, SIMED’s walk in urgent care center provides valuable information on sexual health.

The CDC estimates there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year. Nearly HALF of all new sexually transmitted infections in the US are in young men and women. - CDC 2015

April is STD Awareness Month and Dr. Scott Wilson of First Care, SIMED’s walk in urgent care center, provides valuable information on sexual health.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), are infections that are transmitted through sexual activity. The route of transmission may be oral, anal or vaginal contact. Many STDs cause no or minimal initial symptoms in the infected individual, which is why it is important to get tested regularly.

STDs can be broken up into 3 categories: viral, bacterial and protozoan parasites. Viral Infections - HIV, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis A/B/C, and Herpes I/II- are examples of vital STD’s. When encountered these are often able to be controlled with certain medications or procedures; however, they are not curable at this time.

HIV: With HIV, there may be a flu-like illness that occurs with the initial infection. Then, the infected individual may have no signs or symptoms of infection for months to years. HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is lifelong disease in which certain cells of the immune system are destroyed, allowing multiple infections to cause disease in various areas of the body, and if untreated death.
HPV: The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States is Human Papillomavirus (HPV). An infected individua,l especially females, may have no symptoms, or they might experience genital or anal warts. When left untreated, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer in women, emphasizing the importance of regular PAP smears for sexually active females. A vaccine is recommended for all young men and women to reduce risk of HPV infection.
Hepatitis B, and C: Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the liver. Hepatitis B and C can be acquired from sexual contact and are the leading cause of liver cancer, and the most common reason for liver transplantation. Vaccines are available to prevent Hepatitis A and B, but to date not for Hepatitis C.
Herpes I, II: With Herpes the initial infection is usually the most severe with sores/blisters appearing on the mouth, rectum or genital area. Some individuals also experience flu-like symptoms that occur with the initial outbreak of infection. Subsequent outbreaks may be very mild, without any symptoms or blisters present.

Bacterial Infections - can be cured with antibiotics. Common STD bacterial infections include Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease.
With Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, there may be burning with urination and a discharge from the penis or vagina. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women, the infection can spread to the reproductive organs causing infertility, and sometimes chronic pelvic pain.

With Syphilis, there may be an initial painless sore or lesion in the genital area. If it goes into the secondary phase, a rash appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to serious problems up to 10-30 years after infection, such as difficulty coordinating muscle movement, dementia, blindness, paralysis and even death from damage to internal organs.

Protozoan Parasites - are parasites that are spread through sexual activity. For example, Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. It is treatable with antiprotozoal medications. Trichomonas may cause burning with urination and a discharge from the penis or vagina.

How You Can Protect Yourself?

Prevention for sexually transmitted infections can be accomplished by:

 1- Getting vaccinated for those diseases with available vaccines, such as HPV, Hepatitis B
 2- Practicing safe sexual protocols, like using condoms consistently and correctly 
 3- Reducing your number of sexual partners 
 4- In certain high risk populations for HIV, getting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to lower your risk

When to Get Tested?
The CDC’s Recommendations for Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening are:
 1- All adults and adolescents should be tested at least once for HIV (however, one may need to be tested more frequently if not practicing safe sexual procedures)
 2- Annual Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women 25 years old and younger, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners
 3- Annual Gonorrhea screening for sexually active women
 4- Syphilis, HIV, Chlamydia, and Hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women; Gonorrhea screening for at risk women at the first prenatal visit;
 5- Trichomonas screening in women at high risk of STD’s and annually in all HIV-infected females;
 6- Screening at least once a year for Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV for all sexually active gay men and bisexual men.

SIMED offers STD testing in our Urgent Care at First Care and Primary Care offices. If you have questions about sexual health or would like to request a STD test, request an appointment online by clicking here.

Alcohol and Its Cost To Society

Alcohol and It's Cost To Society

"The cost to society for alcohol consumption is enormous," says Dr. Calvin Martin, an Urgent Care physician at SIMED's First Care. "An estimated $746 per person per year is expended in the United States on healthcare, crime and making up for decreased productivity due to alcohol consumption."

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Dr. Martin wants to increase awareness about what alcohol does to the body and mind, and how its lesser known consequences affect your wellbeing.

Alcohol is popular, because its effects start to be felt soon after drinking. Alcohol is primarily absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly enters the bloodstream. In short, it delays the signals that are sent between nerve cells.

Different alcoholic beverages contain different percentages of ethanol - the toxic part of alcohol that impairs functioning. As far as beverages go, the ethanol is the same chemical no matter the type of alcohol – be it wine, beer, clear liquor or dark liquor. The other ingredients in those beverages are what change the taste, calories and other qualities.

"Thirty percent of Americans have less than one drink per week," said Dr. Martin. "However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, ten percent of drinkers in America consume 74 drinks per week. That's not one or two people. That means there are quite a few people among us in our everyday lives that drink that much."

The average American consumes 552 drinks per year, which is a little over 1.5 drinks per day. Since 70% of all Americans consume alcohol, the other 30% are likely to be affected by the alcohol consumers.

But why are these numbers important?

Monitoring your consumption could very well save your life.

According to Dr. Martin "low amounts of alcohol consumption can be very beneficial."

Decreased risk of diabetes mellitus, blood clots and heart attacks is seen in regular consumers of low amounts of alcohol. Also, bone density increases, the "good" cholesterol – HDL – increases, and the "bad" cholesterol decreases.

On the contrary, high alcohol consumption rates can cause problems throughout the body, including cancer, anemia, heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, gastritis, pancreatitis, increased risk of diabetes, and impaired brain functioning.

Alcohol consumption also limits your freedom:

  • Injuries are much more likely to occur when impaired. Driving, power tools, heavy equipment, and anything that would be dangerous to use when your reaction time is delayed should be avoided whenever alcohol is consumed.
  • Mixing some prescriptions with alcohol can enhance the effect of the alcohol and increase the side effects of the medicines.
  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which increase the risks of trauma and sexual misadventures. Many unwanted pregnancies and STD's occur from alcohol enhanced encounters.

"You may think that your own consumption is normal or below average," said Martin. "The shocking truth is that half of all the alcohol consumed by adults is consumed during binge drinking."

Binge drinking is defined as whatever amount of alcohol intake gets you to the legal limit of being drunk.

Martin recommends downloading an application on your smart phone to track your consumption.

If you or someone you know is concerned about their alcohol consumption, ask the CAGE questions:

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (Eye opener)?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you have questions about your alcohol consumption, click here to request an appointment with a SIMED physician.

Urgent Care or Emergency Room? Which Choice is the Right Choice?

Urgent Care or Emergency Room? Which Choice is the Right Choice?

When an acute injury or illness strikes, as a patient, you have some important decisions to make.  Sometimes the injury or illness isn't serious enough to warrant going to an Emergency Room, but it certainly needs medical attention. Often it's difficult for you to be seen at your Primary Care doctor's office so what are your choices?
With the increase in the number of Urgent Care clinics which have opened many patients see this as a unique alternative to their healthcare.  They are able to be seen without an appointment (although the payoff is that there might be an extended wait depending on how many other patients had the same idea), and many Urgent Care centers offer a variety of services.
Employers also look to Urgent Care centers to help employees who have been injured on the job.  Employers are able to have their employees examined, treated and are able to have more direct lines of communication with the provider so they can work together to make sure the employee is recovering and back to work as quickly as possible.
Urgent Care centers are a great alternative to busy Emergency Rooms.  They're outpatient medical clinics (in most cases) and are able to charge non-ER rates.  Urgent Care centers can also offer basic preventative treatments such as some vaccinations and medications for travel, flu shots, sports or employment physicals and more. At First Care Urgent Care (SIMED's Urgent Care Center) we have the added benefit that if you are unable to be seen at your Primary Care doctor's office, any treatment you receive at First Care is included into your medical record.  There's no guessing by your Primary Care doctor and your medical record stays complete!
We asked our First Care physicians a few questions on what we should consider when selecting an Urgent Care clinic and what makes First Care a quality Urgent Care clinic in our area.  
“Is the clinic staffed by a Medical Doctor and is that Doctor on-site? Are they available to you when you're being treated?”

First Care has rotation of 3 Board Certified Family Practice Physicians and a Physician's Assistant who works directly with them.

“What services do they provide?  Will you need to make additional trips for labs, radiology services (x-ray, MRI, etc..)?”

First Care can draw and get results on stat labs, in-house x-rays, and if scheduling allows, ultrasound and CT, MRI.

“What type of Urgent Care center are they?  Some are affiliated with hospitals or are considered an extension of an Emergency Room which can affect your deductibles, co-pays or other insurance benefits.”

First Care is not affiliated with a hospital.  We are not an emergency room so that means no exorbitant Emergency Department charges!

“Is my injury appropriate for an Urgent Care center? Not all injuries or illness are right for an Urgent Care center setting.  For example, if I know if I experience chest pains, I should call 911.”

If you are unsure, just give us a call, and we can help direct you to the most appropriate care.

Remember to always have a plan in case you or your loved one is faced with an acute injury or illness and needs medical treatment but doesn't need an Emergency Room!  
First Care is open Monday - Friday from 8:00am - 6:00pm.  For more information CLICK HERE or call (352) 373-2340.