Welcome to SEC Lung
Our main office is in Andalusia, with an additional location in Brewton– more information can be found in Locations. Alabama communities served by our SEC Lung clinics include Brantley, Elba, Enterprise, Evergreen, Florala, Geneva, Georgiana, Greenville, Grove Hill, Luverne, McKenzie, Opp, Samson, and Thomasville. Communities served in northwest Florida include Baker, Century, Crestview, Defuniak Springs, and Jay.
Dr. Rob Garver, is the primary physician for SEC Lung, board certified in Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care Medicine and Internal Medicine. Dr. Garver sees every patient, but is assisted by his talented nurse practitioners: Kelly Hammett and Cara Hinckley. Dr. Garver is on the Active Staff of Sacred Heart and Baptist Hospitals in Pensacola where most of his hospital work is performed in a close collaboration with the Pensacola Lung Group. With more than 25 years of experience as a specialist in diseases of the lung ("lung doctor" or "pulmonologist"), Dr. Rob Garver is well-qualified to address your respiratory health needs. For more information about Rob Garver’s qualifications and background, go to Physician Qualifications and Physician Personal Statement.
April 7, 2020 SEC Lung/COVID19 Update
In the interest of promoting safety for both our patients and employees, SEC Lung will be converting all follow-up clinic visits to telephone visits for the remainder of April. All new patient visits are being postponed – we are contacting all scheduled patients for the month of April with this information. This policy has been instituted by most pulmonary practices in the area because (a) COVID19 symptoms in mild cases are very similar to the symptoms most of our patients suffer with on an ongoing basis – and inviting our patients in to our office creates significant risk of infection to the patients following you into the office, as well as our employees (b) we want to promote the statewide “stay at home” orders and social distancing efforts by eliminating the need for our patients to leave the house.
Most of you are aware that the US epidemic is peaking in some places over the next 1-2 weeks. Models of COVID19 epidemic risk in Covington County is estimated at 79% - but the Florida panhandle counties just below us: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton all have epidemic risks of 100%. By all means, avoid unnecessary travel to Florida until things cool down.
Please cooperate with efforts to reduce the rate and extent of COVID19 spread by following the social and physical distancing efforts that have been widely promoted in all sorts of media. There is growing evidence the shutdown of most commerce/businesses has had a beneficial effect, as in the state of Washington where new cases are on a steep decline.
March 22, 2020, COVID-19 UPDATE
This update was initially intended to be posted on March 18 – and the first two lines were as follows: COVID-19 still seems somewhat abstract to us in lower Alabama, since there have not yet been any local cases identified. But it is no longer a question “if” COVID-19 gets here, but “when” it will reach our communities.
Now just 4 days later, Alabama has 138 cases and of 4PM on March 21st – and there is no question this number will grow rapidly. Just to put this in context, on March 7th, the state of Washington had 102 cases – as of March 21st, the case number is over 1800 with 94 deaths. On March 10th, the state of New York passed 1000 COVID cases, as of this date, the number has increased 10-fold, over 10,000 with New York City being the epicenter where hospitals are now being overrun - and ventilators may soon be rationed.
Many people, particularly younger individuals without underlying health problems, are still expressing a self-centered attitude along the lines of “I’m not afraid of COVID, if I get it, I get it”. The problem with this type of thinking is that it ignores the fact that every person infected is likely to infect more than two others. In other words, the macho 20-somethings who were just partying on Florida beaches until the long overdue beach closure was instated this Saturday are now streaming north in cars and planes, almost certain to infect many more people – a lot of whom will be older with underlying medical conditions, and at high risk of suffering critical illness from the infection.
So – here’s what all of us can do to help:
- Limit social contact for yourself and children – and practicing physical distancing: stay more than 6 feet away from others. Do not let your kids have play dates, or other interactions with their friends. This is why schools are closed.
- In the event you develop a fever and/or new cough, immediately isolate yourself until symptoms resolve. If you symptoms worsen, call your primary care provider for advice on testing, which unfortunately is still very difficult to obtain.
COVID 19 UPDATE, March 12, 2020
Headline: WHO Declares Covid-19 Infection Has Become a Pandemic!
What’s a Pandemic?
An infection affecting large numbers of individuals in multiple countries and continents
The US only has around 1100 reported cases as of this date – does that really mean “large numbers” have been infected?
Speaking as a members of the medical community, if we could be certain only 1100 US residents were infected, our level of concern would be much much lower. Unfortunately, the central weakness of the initial US response to containment has been very limited availability of testing. At this time, the majority of testing has been limited to critically ill, hospitalized patients. Furthermore, according to the most recent CDC figures, the source of infection in more than 70% of US infections documented to date appear to be community-based, and NOT linked to foreign travel. This means that the virus has been spreading in communities undetected, and that the number of US residents infected is far greater than 1100 individuals. We will not have an accurate grasp on the magnitude of this infection until COVID-19 testing is widely available, even for those with minor symptoms.
Have there been any other pandemics affecting the US in recent history?
Absolutely! Go to : https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/ for a nice summary of recent pandemics. Here are some highlights from this website:
2005-2012, HIV/AIDS – 36 million deaths
1968, Hong Kong Flu – 1 million deaths
1956, Asian Flu – 2 millions deaths
1918-1920, H1N1 Flu – 500 million infected, 20-50 million deaths, mortality rate of 10-20%
President Trump stated: “This [COVID-19] is a flu.” He is correct in that COVID-19 is highly transmissible like influenza, and most seriously affects the respiratory system – but as the above information about past flu pandemics demonstrates, “a flu” can still be a pretty bad infection.
But, in a more optimistic light, the above examples serve to show that the US, and the world, have dealt with other pandemics in the recent past. COVID-19 is going to be a challenge, but it is not the end of civilization – and we will get through this.
COVID-19 UPDATE, March 10, 2020
The COVID-19 virus infection that originated in China late 2019 has spread around the world, and is causing a great deal of concern. Here’s what we know:
- The virus causes a flu-like illness, mild in 80%, more severe in 15%, and causing critical illness requiring hospitalization in about 5% of those infected based on data from China
- Death rate is somewhere between 2-4% of those infected, with the population at highest risk of critical illness are those > 60 y/o with underlying illness
- Treatment is supportive, ie, there are no approved anti-viral therapies, however some initial data from China is suggesting some medication interventions for critically ill individuals that appear to be helpful
- The virus is very contagious, spread by droplets and particles/objects contaminated with the virus, such as doorknobs, flakes of skin, etc
- There is not yet widely available testing in the US for COVID-19, although both private testing labs and public health authorities are working to address this deficiency
- The lack of widely available testing makes accurate tracking of the infection challenging, and it is expected there are many more infected individuals than reported to date
- As of the time of this update, there have been no cases reported in Alabama, but there have been small numbers of cases identified in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, so spread into our state will likely occur shortly
FLU VACCINATIONS: We have received this year’s flu vaccine. Any established patient of SEC Lung can drop by during normal business hours M-F to receive the vaccine without an appointment.
As we mentioned last month, our affiliated SEC Clinical Research is looking for COPD patients that have frequent flare-ups or exacerbations. Please call 334-504-7014 and ask for Michelle to get more information.
Quit Smoking! Smokers interested in quitting should be sure to check out the website: www.quitnowalabama.com for information about resources provided by the state of Alabama for smoking cessation, which includes phone coaching and free nicotine patches. Check it out – you’ve got only your cigarettes to lose!
Chest CT Lung Cancer Screening! Medicare now pays for an annual low dose chest CT scan looking for early stages of lung cancer that has a high chance of cure by surgery. Individuals 55 – 77 years of age, currently smoking or within 15 years of quitting, and with a consumption of at least 30 pack years are eligible. Please call us for more information. If you are not one of our patients, we will be happy to see you to insure eligibility, order the test and see you afterwards for review of the results.
Please go to our sister website: sec-clinical-research.com to learn more about clinical research opportunities in COPD and asthma at both our Andalusia and Dothan clinical research sites!
(Rob Garver MD)