Flu Vaccination Week with Dr. Martin

Urgent Care physician Calvin Martin, MD discusses the flu and ways to protect yourself and those you love!

To schedule your annual visit and flu shot with your primary care provider, click here.

To schedule your flu shot and/or covid vaccine with the SIMEDHealth Pharmacy, click here.


What is the Flu? 

The Flu is an acute viral respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can affect the respiratory system from the nose to the lungs. This illness tends to occur in outbreaks around the world usually during the winter months. The time from exposure to the virus to symptoms starting is usually 1 to 4 days.    

What are Flu symptoms? 

The exact presentation and predominate symptoms may vary year to year based on the predominate flu strain for the particular year. Flu symptoms usually come on very quickly and strongly over the course of several hours. They may include fatigue, body aches, fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, and nasal congestion. Children may also develop nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms in older adults may be less severe but may also be associated with mental status changes such as confusion. Symptoms usually start to improve after 3-4 days, though they may take up to 2 weeks to fully resolve.


What complications can be seen with the Flu?

Complications from the flu are usually more prevalent in immunocompromised or older patients. Any underlying medical conditions can be made worse by infection with influenza such as COPD, asthma, heart disease and heart failure. Patients with influenza may also develop bacterial pneumonia, inflammation around the heart, heart attacks, seizures and other nervous system diseases. 


How to prevent contracting? 

Transmission of influenza is by direct person to person contact when people are close together. We are very familiar with this type of respiratory virus transmission as this is how COVID is transmitted as well. When a person coughs, sneezes, or even just talks, tiny bits of fluids are released from the nose and mouth, and these fluids can carry the virus particles through the air to another person. These fluids also can remain on surfaces for some time and can get on your hands when you touch the surface. You then become infected by touching your face or eyes. 

As with COVID, washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, wearing a mask when you are in close proximity to others, and isolate yourself from others if you have symptoms can prevent the spread of influenza. 


What about Flu shots?

One of the most important and easy ways to minimize the consequences of an exposure to the influenza virus and prevent the spread is to get a yearly flu shot. These are safe and relatively painless vaccines which only takes a few minutes and can be administered at your primary care doctor’s office, many urgent care centers, and most retail pharmacies. Sometimes your employer may even have flu shots available at your place of work. 

Wash your hands, stay warm, avoid large groups if you are feeling ill, and get vaccinated! 

Drs. Vong and Yancey, featured in House Calls Magazine

House Calls Magazine, a publication by Alachua County Medical Society,

features articles by SIMEDHealth Neurologists Drs. Vongxaiburana and Yancey; 

An overview of multiple sclerosis by Dr. Vongxaiburana, and Update on Parkinson's disease by Dr. Yancey.

Scroll down to keep reading.


Diabetes Month with Rachel Francis, PA-C.

November is American Diabetes Month and we heard from Primary Care Provider Rachel Francis, PA-C. about diabetes prevention and risks.

If you're at risk for diabetes, talk to your SIMEDHealth primary care provider, or make an appointment here.


1.) What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? 

The most common types of diabetes you hear about are Type 1 and Type 2.  In Type 1 diabetes a person's body becomes unable to produce enough of its own insulin. Since insulin is required to process the body's blood sugar (glucose), this leads to high levels of sugar circulating in the bloodstream.  In type 2 diabetes, the body is able to produce some or all of the insulin it needs; however the cells within the body are resistant to the insulin and therefore are unable to use it effectively. 


2.) Who is most at risk for type 2 diabetes? 

Although diabetes is present across all patient populations, the risk is higher in some more so than others. There is higher risk amongst those who are obese, live sedentary lifestyles, with strong family histories of diabetes, and who had elevated blood sugar problems during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).  Also, those who have chronic mildly elevated blood sugars otherwise known as "pre-diabetes," are at higher risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes, as well as certain ethnicities. 


3.) What are some things a person can do to prevent development of diabetes? 

Although one cannot change certain risk factors like family history, age or ethnicity; there are things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes or possibly prevent it all together! Take action by improving your lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical exercise, and getting regular preventative checks with your health care provider. 


4.) Why is it important to treat diabetes early? 

You might be wondering, "Why should I be concerned about my blood sugar? I feel fine!" In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, there may be few or no symptoms. However, over time high levels of blood sugar, either from Type1 or 2, can cause damage to small blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, brain, and heart; eventually leading to complications like stroke, heart attack, neuropathy, kidney failure, loss of vision, and loss of arterial circulation leading to higher risk of wounds and amputations.  Early control of elevated blood sugar slows the progression and even prevents some of these complications. Talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for you. 



Osteoporosis with Dr. Miguel Rodriguez

We had questions about osteoporosis and SIMEDHealth Rheumatologist Dr. Miguel Rodriguez had answers!


Dr. Rodriguez sees patients at our Gainesville and Ocala locations; to schedule an appointment, visit https://bit.ly/3t2VJhd .


1. What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that leads to an increased risk of fracture. Throughout our lives, our bones are constantly being broken down and built up again. Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone is lost and/or too little is made. This causes bones to become brittle and easier to break. In more severe osteoporosis, a minor trip, bump or even a sneeze may be all it takes to break a bone.

2. What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

Most people with osteoporosis do not know they have the disease until they break a bone which is why osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease. Once a bone fractures, it can be very painful and may take a very long time to heal. Some symptoms can become more noticeable with worsening disease and may include:

  • A gradual loss in height because of compressed vertebrae
  • Stooped posture or “Dowager’s hump”
  • Persistent back pain from collapsed or fractured vertebrae or other bone pain
  • More frequent fractures

3. What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

Your risk of osteoporosis depends on:

  • Your age – bone density declines at a faster rate after the age of 50
  • Your diet – a regular intake of calcium and other minerals helps maintain bone health
  • How much you exercise and what type of exercise you do - weight-bearing exercises increase bone density
  • Sex hormone levels – women after menopause and men with low testosterone are at higher risk
  • Sun exposure – sun is needed in small amounts for our skin to make vitamin D
  • What other medical conditions you have – people with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of osteoporosis
  • What medicines you take – corticosteroids, antiandrogens, and aromatase inhibitors increase risk
  • If you are deficient in any vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D or calcium
  • How much you smoke or drink – smoking or a high alcohol intake increases risk
  • How much you weigh – people who are underweight generally have lower bone densities
  • If you have had any previous fractures

4. How is osteoporosis diagnosed? 

Doctors usually diagnose osteoporosis during routine screening for the disease. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for:

  • Women over age 65
  • Women of any age who have factors that increase the chance of developing osteoporosis

Your doctor may order a test that measures your bone mineral density (BMD) in a specific area of your bone. The most common test for measuring bone mineral density is dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). It is a quick, painless, and noninvasive test. DXA uses low levels of x-rays as it passes a scanner over your body while you lie on a cushioned table. The test measures the BMD of your skeleton and at various sites that are prone to fracture, such as the hip and spine. Bone density measurement by DXA at the hip and spine is generally considered the most reliable way to diagnose osteoporosis and predict fracture risk.

A person can also be diagnosed with osteoporosis if they have a fragility fracture. Fragility fractures occur as a result of “low energy trauma”, often from a fall from standing height or less.

5. What medications are available to treat osteoporosis?

There are a number of different medicines used to treat osteoporosis. Some work by decreasing how fast bone is broken down, others increase the rate at which bone is built back up. Some can only be used in postmenopausal women.

Common medicines prescribed for osteoporosis include:

  • Bisphosphonates such as Actonel, Atelvia, Boniva, Binosto, Fosamax, Reclast, and Zometa
  • Hormone therapies, that replace missing hormones or mimic the actions of hormones, such as Calcitonin, Duavee, Evista, Femhrt, Forteo, Premarin, or Tymlos
  • Prolia – directly targets cells breaking down bone

6. Can osteoporosis be reversed?

Yes! Several treatments have been shown to improve bone density which slows or reverses the progression of osteoporosis, reducing the risk of fracture. However, osteoporosis cannot be cured indefinitely.  It requires ongoing actions to maintain your bone density. It’s never too late to treat your osteoporosis.  Don’t wait for a fracture to take action.


Minority Mental Health with Markus Dietrich, LMHC

July is observed as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and we discussed these struggles with SIMEDHealth Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Markus Dietrich.


“Approximately 18% of US adults have a mental health diagnosis in any given year, 4% of the affected people have a severe mental illness.” [1] Mental illness does not discriminate by race or gender, even though prevalence of certain diagnoses varies.

Racial and ethnic minority communities face unique struggles regarding mental health problems.



1. What are the challenges racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental health illnesses?

Mental health problems still carry a stigma for some. There is a higher stigma regarding mental health in some racial and ethnic groups, making it harder to recognize and identify mental health illnesses. Even when problems are identified, minority communities can be disproportionally affected by certain barriers. Among those are uninsured or under insured accessing services provided in medical settings, capacity issues, waiting lists in publicly funded agencies and a general distrust in healthcare systems. On the provider side a significant issue is a lack of diversity, with 81% of providers being Caucasian. This lack of diversity can manifest in lack of cultural competence and language barriers, making it potentially more difficult for some to find providers they can relate to.   


2. Why do some people resist getting help for mental health illnesses?

Mental health issues are still less understood and for some carry a stigma compared to physical illness. Thanks in part to the media, famous entertainers, and influencers have been forthcoming with their own mental health and substance abuse problems; drawing attention to the importance of mental health.  Mental illness is not always evident, making it difficult for people to recognize it. When a person is ready for help, it is important that access to treatment is easy and timely.


3. What can one do to help someone struggling with mental health?

Be a friend, listen with the intent to understand, and avoid being judgmental. Showing judgment while someone is expressing their emotions can prevent them in the future from confiding in you. Showing someone support can be simply being a good listener, validating their emotions and letting them know they’re not alone, or helping them find resources and solutions.  


4. What are things one can do to boost their mental health?

Even though one might not experience a mental illness like depression or an anxiety disorder, most of us can improve our mental health. Ways to boost your mental health include good self- care, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and seeking and maintaining healthy relationships.


5. Any additional comments?

Taking care of your health includes physical and mental health. If you’re struggling and need help, reach out to appropriate specialists. Thanks to the wide variety of treatment options available today, most mental illnesses are treatable.



[1] Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations, American Psychiatric Association, 2017

Viral Hepatitis with Dr. David Lefkowitz


The most common cause of hepatitis is viral hepatitis.


1. What is hepatitis? What are the differences between the types of hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The most common cause of hepatitis is viral hepatitis, consisting of virus types A, B, C, D, and E.

Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted through contaminated food and water.  The contamination occurs when the virus travels out of an infected person in their feces, and gets into the community’s water system.  It is less commonly transmitted through sex. It causes an acute infection that’s self-limited, meaning the virus will run its course without causing chronic infection. “Most infected people get over the illness without a serious issue.  There are very few deaths unless one has a compromised immune system”, says Dr. Lefkowitz.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through body fluids like semen and blood, and through infected mothers to their babies during birth. “This type can cause both and acute and chronic illness, and twenty-five percent of people who develop a chronic infection, if left untreated will develop liver disease, cirrhosis, or liver cancer”, says Dr. Lefkowitz. Ninety-five percent of infants who are born with Hepatitis B transmitted from an infected mother, will develop chronic infection. Dr. Lefkowitz emphasizes this is the reason babies receive their initial hepatitis B vaccination right after birth.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through body fluids like semen and blood, with blood being the biggest risk. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted through infected mothers to their babies during birth, but less commonly than hepatitis B. “Seventy percent of the people who get acute hepatitis C will develop chronic infection; of those, fifteen to twenty percent, if left untreated will develop severe liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer”, says Dr. Lefkowitz.


2. What are the symptoms?

Acute hepatitis symptoms include fever, body aches, and nausea/vomiting. More liver specific symptoms are jaundice, light to clay-colored stool, and dark urine. Hepatitis A is notorious for causing diarrhea.

However, Dr. Lefkowitz state “Patients with acute hepatitis A, B, and C sometimes don’t show symptoms, people with hepatitis C are usually unaware they’re infected with the virus.”


3. What can people do to prevent getting viral hepatitis?

Stay up to date on the Hepatitis A and B vaccines. Practice safe sex, like using condoms, and avoid sharing needles.


4. Is there any way for hepatitis to be treated?

Hepatitis A is self-limited, and will pass after the virus runs its course.

Hepatitis B has treatments but there isn’t a cure.

Hepatitis C has treatments for acute and severe cases, and most patients can be cured with treatments developed in the last ten years.Because of the higher risk of developing chronic problems from Hepatitis C, and the potential for cure, it is recommended those at risk for hepatitis C obtain lab testing to see if they have active infection.

Gainesville Fine Arts Association At SIMED

Gainesville Fine Arts Association artwork featured at SIMED in Gainesville

If you visited the Gainesville SIMED location, you may have noticed all of the wonderful art along the walls and in the hallways. The art is provided by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association.

The Gainesville Fine Arts Association and SIMED have worked together to display art at the 4343 W Newberry Road location since the early 2000s when the SIMED central location was first built. The first GFAA show at SIMED took place right after building construction was completed. Now more than 100 pieces from over 25 artists decorate the SIMED location's walls. The feedback from staff and patients has been rewarding for artists, and the exposure has allowed many pieces of art to find new homes. The art gets swapped out every three months.

About the Gainesville Fine Arts Association

The Gainesville Fine Arts Association was formed in 1923 by three close friends to “foster and encourage the study of Arts theoretically and practically through every medium.” Throughout the years, the GFAA found places for meetings, classes, sidewalk art shows and more. Through the consistent interest and effort by a growing group of Gainesville artists, the GFAA has continued to contribute to the art scene in Gainesville. At this time, GFAA has more than 300 members.

GFAA TodayThe Gainesville Fine Arts Association Gallery

Members produce art that ranges from acrylics, watercolors, oils, colored pencil pieces, and photography to ceramics, wood, fiber, collage, and other textural pieces. To see more art by GFAA artists, you can visit the gallery or another location that hosts GFAA art. GFAA showcases art at locations including SIMED, Oak Hammock, and the Millhopper and Tower Road Libraries. To become a member, you can visit their website, gainesvillefinearts.org, or stop by the Gallery at 1314 South Main Street Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

GFAA Events

The association runs the GFAA Winter Fine Arts Fair at Tioga ever year. It is currently in its 11th year. They also sponsor the Thornebrook Art Festival. On the last Friday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m., GFAA hosts an ArtWalk reception that highlights the new theme of the month.

GFAA History

After its foundation in 1923, GFAA had monthly meetings, brought exhibits to the city, and presented art lectures. Continuing through the war, GFAA offered painting classes for adults and children, sidewalk art shows, art jamborees and auctions, and children exhibits. Members sent out the first newsletter in 1963.

In 1973, the Association was rechartered by the state of Florida and was granted non-profit status in 1978. In 1985, the association held the Outdoor Autumn Show and the first “Summer Showcase” exhibit.

In December 2015, the GFAA moved into their first “home”. The GFAA Gallery, 1314 S Main Street, houses an art gallery, workshop space, classes, and meeting space. The gallery was formed in partnership with Scott and April Schroeder of the Business Journal and Liquid Creative and with the assistance of Keith Perry, the building owner.

Today, subjects and guest speakers bring large crowds. The shows, exhibits, workshops, and outside venues have increased in numbers and locations, giving members more options to display their work and learn new techniques. They also continue to provide more art opportunities for the Gainesville community.

The GFAA believes very strongly in collaboration and has done so with Santa Fe College, the Friends of Elementary Arts, Gainesville Modern, Jest Fest, and more. They support student artists, whether in the school system or in after school opportunities, through donations to Rawlings Elementary, Sidney Lanier, and others.

View pieces by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association at SIMED’s central location, 4343 West Newberry Road in Gainesville.