December 2020


“Try to be a rainbow in someone  else's cloud" - Theodore Roosevelt

Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida  

Bi-Monthly Newsletter
Fifth Edition
ember 2020

Holiday Greetings to our clients, physicians, donors, sponsors, supporters, and community members!

2020 has certainly been a year of unexpected challenges and unprecedented circumstances.  Not just for our organization, but for everyone in our cities, counties, state,  nation and the world.

ESSWFL has faced many obstacles in order to continue services to our clients.  We have put our heads together and come up with creative and hopefully effective ways to address how we can serve those who depend on us for assistance with their epilepsy.

We have modified our office schedules and are primarily working remotely to ensure the safety of our clients and our staff.

Our case managers have been working diligently and have stepped up to the plate to ensure that our clients receive the same services they would in person.

Our physicians have been on board to continue clinics via telemedicine and have not skipped a beat in providing the same services they would provide in person.  Their dedication and compassion are sincerely appreciated.

Our administrative staff has worked hard to continue to raise funds, comply with county and state requirements, provide support to our case managers and provide prevention and education services to our community at large. 

ImageWe are dedicated to ensuring that all those with epilepsy can live as normal a life as possible. 

We hope that you can enjoy the holidays despite the challenges that are still ahead.  We strongly suggest that you adhere to all the recommended cautionary practices advised by our health officials.   

We are looking forward to 2021 where we can all eventually come together again and continue on a path to a healthy, safe and prosperous life.

Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida always puts the health, safety, and well-being of our clients, employees and stakeholders first.

We are following the recommendations of the local and national authorities and are abundantly concerned for all members of our community.

We have decided to temporarily suspend office visits, events and in-person support groups until further notice due to COVID-19.

We are working remotely and are available via email or phone.

All client clinic visits with their physician will be held via Telemedicine until further notice.

These visits will be scheduled by your Case Manager and they will contact you regarding your appointment.

Please call the following numbers or email to connect with your Case Manager:

Fort Myers and Naples officeBobbi Frasca; (239) 265-6865,email or Gwendolyn Howerton; (239) 275-4838 ext.2, email
Sarasota officeAlex Batalla: (941) 953-5988, ext. 312, email
Sarasota & Bradenton officeDiane Walz: (941) 752-6226; email
Other inquiries: Executive Director, Kevin Lindberg: (941) 953-5988, ext. 303, email
Prevention & Education information, Community Outreach Coordinator, Barbara Coleman: (941) 953-5988, ext. 316, email
In the event of an emergency, please call 911, as Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida is not an emergency service organization. 

Our staff hopes you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe during this difficult time.

Don't forget! December 1, 2020 is Giving Tuesday.

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GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

A reminder email blast will be sent 12/1/2020 with directions on how to donate.


 "Ask the Expert" - a new way to ask your questions or express concerns:

In response to the government health recommendations regarding COVID-19, we have cancelled our monthly group support meetings.  We want to "keep the conversation going" and would like to hear any questions or concerns you have regarding epilepsy.  These can be questions about yourself, a loved one, friend, family member, neighbor, etc.  We will gather questions and respond to them in upcoming newsletters.  All questions posted will remain anonymous and we will "ask the expert" to respond to your question or concern. Listed below is a question we received this month. 

"How do people with epilepsy live their lives?"

One of the biggest concerns for people with epilepsy and their families is how it affects day-to-day life. Do they need to restrict their activity?  If so, how? Other concerns may arise, such as how seizures may affect family life, other relationships, school, work, or recreation.

Coping with epilepsy is different for everyone. People with well-controlled seizures may have different issues or concerns than people with poorly controlled seizures. Also, having a lot of seizures and taking seizure medications may affect how people think, feel, and their ability to cope with the effects of their epilepsy. Experiences and concerns will also be different if you are a young person, parent, adult with seizures, or senior. Gender also plays a role in how we view epilepsy, how we cope, and what issues we may face.

While there is no magic formula for how to live with epilepsy, consider these questions. They’ll help you think about your needs and where to start:

  • How does epilepsy affect you and your family?
  • Do you know your rights and responsibilities to manage your health?
  • Do you know how to cope with discrimination?
  • Do you know how to balance the need to stay safe and live life the way you want?
  • Do you know how to find support and resources you may need?
  • Do you talk about living with epilepsy? If not, would it help to hear others talk about it? 
  • What is life with epilepsy going to be like?

"What is life with epilepsy going to be like?"

Living well is a realistic goal for many people with epilepsy. But life with epilepsy isn't without some bumps. Actually, it’s like going on a journey with a lot of peaks and valleys. There are times things will be going well. You’re feeling good and whatever you are doing seems to be working. Life is going along smoothly. Then something happens. Maybe seizures have gotten worse or you’ve come across different problems in your life. The way you dealt with problems in the past might not be working as well now. It may be time to reach out and learn something new. You may need a new way of looking at life with epilepsy, a new way of coping, or a new way of getting help.

Click on the link to the Epilepsy Foundation website below to read more and learn about topics such as:

    What kind of community support can help me?
    How does epilepsy affect family life?
    How does epilepsy affect school?
    Will epilepsy affect my ability to work?

To submit a question, please email:

Case Managers' Corner

Welcome Rebeca Elton, New Case Manager!

Rebeca Elton is a case manager at Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida in the Sarasota Office. Rebeca is originally from Peru and moved to North Carolina 20 years ago to attend college in Charlotte. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting from her country. Rebeca is an experienced case manager and interpreter in a variety of settings. In her spare time, she enjoys activities with her family, reading, and traveling. Rebeca also enjoys volunteer work to give back to her community and church. She lives in Bradenton with her husband and two children.

Please join us in welcoming Rebeca to our organization!.

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Each issue of this newsletter we will feature members of our staff or volunteer board of directors with the intention that you will be able to get to know a little bit better the faces behind the names.

This issue we are featuring Margie Kennedy Yurewitch, ESSWFL Board President

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For those who may not be aware of my story, I want to share with you a little of my background so you can begin to understand why I am so dedicated to this organization, and why I appreciate the hard work and effort to bring information, resources, and medical assistance, as well as caring and empathy, to those we serve.

I raised three sons, the oldest of whom was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of eight. No reason was determined as to why Jonathan's seizures began, but our family quickly became consumed in trying to help our son. He was diagnosed with complex partial seizures and, after much debate and research, was put on Tegretol XR. Jonathan experienced great tiredness, but the medicine seemed to be helping once we found the right dosage. He then went seizure free until he went off to college and decided to stop taking his medication. However, after a couple of breakthrough seizures, Jonathan recognized he needed to start his medication once again, and so he did.

In May 2015, Jonathan was living in Kentucky and came to visit us in Florida. Within two weeks of returning to Kentucky, our family received the call that no one ever wants to get. My 27 year-old son had died on May 30. Two autopsies could not provide any other reasons, other than epilepsy/SUDEP, for a healthy young adult having his life cut short. I quickly realized that something I had never heard of, in all the years of speaking with medical professionals, had taken the life of my son - SUDEP - Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

I share this with you in case there is any doubt about how important I feel Epilepsy Services is in the lives of those for whom we provide life-saving assistance. My son dealt with a fair share of stigma attached to epilepsy and, like many others, sought to down-play the effects epilepsy had on his life. 

Our organization exists to help change the lives of those we serve for the better and I look forward to working with and supporting each of you as we strive to fulfill our purpose:

The goal of the Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida is to assist in the process of empowering our patients toward self -management in order to be able to lead as close to a normal life as possible.

Thank you again for honor of serving.

Margie's son, Jonathan Yurewitch


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DON'T FORGET IT!! NEW Tax Rules for 2020!

Here is a new tax law passed this year to consider how you can start planning for your 2020 tax obligation:

Make up to $300 of charitable contributions.  For the 2020 tax year only, an above-the-line deduction of $300 is available to all Americans who want to make a charitable contribution.  You can donate to more than one charity, but the total amount of contributions must be $300 or less to be able to take an above-the-line deduction.  While you will still need to itemize your deductions if you want a tax break for donations greater than $300, this above-the-line deduction for $300 or less helps alleviate the elimination of the charitable deduction for most taxpayers. (NOTE: $300 is the maximum above-the-line deduction per tax return, regardless of filing status.)

What you need to do:  Donate $300 to your favorite charitable organization(s) by December 31, 2020.  You must receive a written acknowledgement from the charitable organization (s) to which you made the $300 contribution before filing your 2020 tax return.  

Please see below- Flanzer Philanthropic Trust allows you to double your donation!  


We need your help!  Donations are always welcome and without them we would not be able to do the work that we do.  Your gift helps ensure our clients continue to receive critical medical attention including access to neurologists, diagnostic testing and assistance accessing medications as well as case management services and prevention and educational programs to the community at large. Here are current donation opportunities:


Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust Matching Program:

The 2020 Flanzer $500,000 Matching Program will match any gift from $5 to $500 to Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida.  “Louis and Gloria Flanzer always believed in the goodness and generosity of people,” said Eric Kaplan, co-trustee of the Flanzer Trust.  Please support Epilepsy Services by donating today.

Link to donate:

  • Click on the donate button and you will be directed to a page where you can pay either by PayPal or with a Credit/Debit card. 
  • Type in the amount of your gift from $5 to $500. 
  • Designate Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida as the recipient. This will ensure your gift is directed to us.    
  • Pay with PayPal or a credit card
  • If you would like to make a donation by check, please make the check out to: The Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, 1843 Floyd Street, Sarasota, FL 34239 and indicate Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida in the memo section.


Prevention & Education Services

If you would like the Community Outreach Coordinator to come to your business, your club meeting or your office, please contact Barbara Coleman, Community Outreach Coordinator at or 941-953-5988, Ext. 316 for a free presentation. Barbara will be glad to train your staff on how to respond to someone having a seizure or just make an informative presentation about epilepsy – the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.

About Us

The goal of Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida is to assist in the process of empowering our patients toward self-management in order to lead as close to a normal life as possible.

Go to our website to learn more about our organization and take time to view our video:

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