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    Avoid a Holiday Tragedy – Don't Drive Impaired

    Last updated 5 days ago


    During the most wonderful time of the year, sadly one of the greatest threats to the joys of holiday celebrations is impaired driving that can easily result in a tragedy. December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month – although the focus on reducing this danger is prominent all year long.

    There are parties all month long that present the opportunity to over-imbibe. That’s a good reason to be really conscious of the choices we make as adults and to sit our teens down and talk with them about how fun can turn to disaster in an instant.

    Alcohol isn’t the only culprit either. Drugs – both illegal and prescription – are a growing problem, especially with our youth and most definitely are behind a significant number of motor vehicle accidents that claim lives every year.

    We bring this up as a reminder that the only way to have a truly joyful holiday is to avoid tragedy whenever possible. Talk to your kids. Talk to your friends. Keep the number of the local taxi company in your purse and use it if you or someone you know has had one too many at the office party. 

    And if it’s not just an occasional issue, but you or loved one has an ongoing problem with drugs or alcohol, call our free health information and physician referral line at (850) 864-0213 and find out about help with addiction. 

    Still Time to Benefit from the Flu Vaccine!

    Last updated 11 days ago


    Still haven’t found time to get that influenza vaccination? Or maybe you just don’t want to for whatever reason. December 7-13 Influenza Vaccination Week and it’s aimed at getting people just like you to consider or reconsider taking that simple step to help squash the flu bug this season.

    Let’s take a look at the benefits that one little shot in the arm offer to you and to the people you care about. First and foremost the flu vaccine can keep you from getting sick from the flu! And not just you, but all the people around you who might get exposed if you come down with the flu – especially children and the elderly who are more vulnerable to the virus.

    If you do get a case of the flu, having the vaccine can make it a milder case so you aren’t so sick you can’t drag yourself out of bed or worse, land you in the hospital. A severe case of the flu can lead to a lot of complications that can actually be life-threatening.

    Studies show that the flu vaccine is an important preventive tool for people with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. It lowers the risk of hospitalization in people 50 and older for flu related complications. And it also protects women during pregnancy and even their babies for up to six months after birth. 

    Surely you can find one good reason here to go for it and get your flu vaccine this year! Call your doctor and schedule an appointment, or if you don’t have a physician, call our free health information and referral line at (850) 864-0213 and let us help you take this important preventive step today!

    Free Help for Cancer Patients is Just a Call Away

    Last updated 15 days ago


    Here’s something you probably don’t know.  There’s a remarkable person, delivering a remarkable service for cancer patients right here in Okaloosa County.  Susan Ferdon is the ultimate ‘hand holder’ when it comes to helping patients and their families cope with the myriad of challenges this diagnosis and its treatment creates within their lives.

    As the new Community Oncology Patient Navigator at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Susan is a natural for this role which is part of a University of Alabama-Birmingham-FWBMC CMS grant program focused on serving Medicare-aged cancer patients.  She’s part of a team which includes Buddy Duncan, Lay Patient Navigator, who together, help patients ‘navigate’ the health care experience from diagnosis through survivorship.

    For her part, Susan is out in the community, helping patients with everything from sitting with them during a doctor’s appointment to ‘translate’ the medical lingo, to offering spiritual support and comfort. She says she’ll do anything she can to help patients and their families – no request is too big or too small.  For example, a recently diagnosed 80-year-old patient received a letter from Susan offering this free service (that’s right, it’s free) and decided to take the help.  She was scheduled for a second biopsy at the hospital but she was concerned about leaving her husband, who has early dementia, in the waiting room alone.  No problem!  Susan met the couple in the outpatient surgery lobby and stayed with the elderly man throughout the entire procedure, giving him assurance that his wife was fine.  Coincidentally, the couple’s grandson was in the hospital’s ICU at the same time, so Susan was able to check on him and give a report back to the grandparents.  On that particular day, Susan provided much needed peace of mind.  And when the patient began radiation a few days later, Susan accompanied her as extra ‘eyes and ears’ so she’d be sure to absorb all of the important information given about her treatment.

    Susan feels she was truly called to be a Community Navigator.  While her family has had deep roots in Okaloosa County for decades, she moved after college.  She began her health care career as a pharmaceutical sales rep in 1997.  In 2009, she felt a calling to pastoral care ministry and in 2012, earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mercer University in Atlanta.  But after 39 years away, she returned to Shalimar to help care for her ailing father.  Through a former sorority sister, she became acquainted with Buddy Duncan, who shared with her information about this new position and opened the door for her to interview for the job.  It was a perfect fit for her!  Her training in health care gave her the knowledge and ability to communicate with patients in laymen’s terms, and her training in pastoral care offered the emotional and spiritual support so needed by cancer patients and their families.  Susan’s life path led her back home to do the work she feels she truly was called to do.

    A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and having people like the FWBMC navigators helping both in and outside of the hospital is a true blessing. Their biggest challenge: getting the word out to the community and getting patients or family members to pick up the phone and ask for help.   Maybe it sounds too good to be true.  Free?  Comprehensive?   Delivered locally by knowledgeable, compassionate people?  If you know someone who would benefit from Susan’s help, give her a call.  Her office phone number is 850-315-4208.  Or you can send her a quick email at  She’s just waiting for you to ask for her helping hand.

    Time to Talk About Epilepsy

    Last updated 25 days ago


    It’s National Epilepsy Awareness Month so let’s talk about this disorder that affects about 2 million people in our country.  Epilepsy is also referred to as a seizure disorder because someone suffering from the condition has recurring and unprovoked seizures.  If Epilepsy goes undetected and untreated, the results can be devastating.

    When an epileptic has a seizure it can last from a few seconds to minutes.  It’s caused by a disturbance in the brain where groups of nerve cells are signaling abnormally.   The seizure causes the individual to lose body control and can affect their awareness of what’s going on around them. 

    The onset of epilepsy can happen at any age but it typically happens to children under 2 and seniors over 65.  But regardless of age, getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment is vital.  Along with a review of the person’s medical history and a neurological exam, a physician may order an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a brain scan (CT) or MRI.  Once those tests are completed the doctor can best decide how to treat the patient. 

    Treatments range from medications, to surgery, to other therapies like electrical nerve stimulation.  But the key to getting the best diagnosis and the best treatment is finding the right physician.  Doctors who specialize in severe cases are called Epileptologists but many times your Primary Care physician or a Neurologist are the first to recognized the disorder and manage its treatment.

    For more information on the treatment of Epilepsy or for a referral to a qualified physician, call our free health information and physician referral line at 1-850-864-0213. 

    You Can be a Quitter Too!

    Last updated 1 month ago


    November 20th is the Great American Smoke-out sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  It’s always the 3rd Thursday of November and it’s a great day to be a quitter!  Now, we know that if you’re a cigarette smoker, having someone tell you to quit sounds easier than it really is.  It’s hard to quit because tobacco addiction is real, it’s controlling, and just the thought of going through a day without your smoke can be overwhelming.

    But let’s look at what not smoking, even for one day, can do for you.  These are stats you can find on the ACS website.  Here’s how quickly your body can benefit from not lighting up the morning of November 20th.   Within 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop and within 12 hours, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. 

    If you can hang in there past that first day, here’s what happens.  In 2 weeks to 3 months your circulation and lung function improve, that hacking cough and shortness of breath diminish and within a year, your risk of heart disease is half that of someone who is still smoking.  And if you stay tobacco free, over the years your risk for things like cancer, stroke and heart disease can continue to go down until you’re on par with someone who has never smoked. 

    No one is suggesting that you just wake up on November 20th and miraculously you won’t crave a cigarette.  But if you want to try, you can talk to your doctor and get help.  You can make a plan, get smoking cessation aids, try something that might work for you.  And if you don’t succeed on the 20th, try again.  People who were ‘hard-core’ tobacco addicts have quit smoking.  You can be a quitter too!

    For information on smoking cessation classes in the community or to find a physician who can help you kick the habit, call our free health information and physician referral line at 1-850-864-0213.


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