Epilepsy Foundation of Florida awarded $75,000

Monday, January 01, 2007

Epilepsy Foundation of Florida awarded $75,000

The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida recognizes community programs

Jacksonville, Fla. - The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), presented a $75,000 Award of Distinction to the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida during The Blue Foundation’s annual Sapphire Award event on Nov. 30 in Lake Buena Vista.  The Sapphire Award recognizes excellence in community health programs that have improved the health-related outcomes of Florida’s at-risk populations and communities.
“The symbol of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is a flame which signifies the light of understanding epilepsy for a more accepting society and cure,” said Karen Basha Egozi, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation. “In receiving this gift from The Blue Foundation our community health programs are recognized for their excellence and distinction. Our flame burns brighter today, and brings hope to over 360,000 people living with epilepsy in Florida.”
The Epilepsy Foundation provides medical, social and neuropsychological assistance; helps procure medications; offers employment counseling; and presents prevention and education outreach programs. Additional community services include epilepsy education for new teachers, bicycle helmet distribution, research with local and regional hospitals and universities, and assistance to recently arrived Cuban and Haitian refugees with epilepsy and their families.  The Epilepsy Foundation has also established unique relationships with primary care physicians, pediatricians and dentists to provide discounted medical and dental services to uninsured and underserved area residents.
“The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida develops effective and innovative community partnerships to reach the greatest number of people in need,” said Susan Towler, executive director, The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida. “They have shown true leadership and excellence in addressing a health condition affecting hundreds of thousands of Floridians.”
To be eligible for The Sapphire Award, organizations must demonstrate excellence; have a record of improving the health of their community through measurable outcomes; be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code; officially reside and be incorporated in the state of Florida; and have programs that are involved with health-related services.  Programs are nominated by three persons familiar with the organization and are reviewed by an independent selection committee made up of medical, public health and health communication experts from across the country and Florida.  Of the 42 organizations nominated for the 2007 Sapphire Award, one was named winner, three received awards of distinction and one received honorable mention.
The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of BCBSF incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, please visit its web site at www.bluefoundationfl.com.

Statewide Epilepsy Service Organization Expands Services in North Central Florida

Friday, February 01, 2008

Statewide Epilepsy Service Organization Expands Services in North Central Florida

Miami-based Foundation Partners with Epilepsy Services in North Central Florida to Focus on Epilepsy as State’s “Hidden Healthcare Crisis”

February 1, 2008, Gainesville, FL – Business executives and leading neurologists today announced that the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida (EFOF), the first state-wide organization to direct and coordinate epilepsy research, treatment and funding efforts, has joined forces with local epilepsy service providers to expand services in the North Central Florida region.  EFOF is the lead agency for epilepsy service programs sponsored by the state, as well as the sole licensee in Florida of the National Epilepsy Foundation.

“We are pleased to bring the North Central Florida region under the umbrella of the Foundation.  This is a trend that is exciting to us where we can bring together the strength of a state-wide organization with the commitment and passion of local leaders and epilepsy services providers”, said Karen Basha Egozi, who serves as Executive Director of EFOF.  She currently heads a statewide staff with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and now Gainesville.  “This expansion represents another step toward aligning the state’s most prominent epilepsy proponents and experts and unites us in an effort to prevent the disorder and support those afflicted with it through increased awareness among all Floridians as a vehicle to prevention, diagnosis and funding,” Egozi added.

Over the past 37 years, Epilepsy Services in the mostly rural 16 counties of the North Central Florida region have been previously overseen by the University of Florida and, more recently, the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida based in Orlando.  In 2007 Gainesville neurologists and long-time providers of medical care to the program, Chris Sackellares, Basim Uthman and BJ Wilder, partnered with local business executives to devise a plan for managing the services on a local basis again while benefitting from the larger efforts and status of EFOF.  Jim Lyons, who has managed the North Central Florida epilepsy services operations since 1992 will continue to head EFOF’s Gainesville office at 1000 N.W. 8th Avenue.

“ We are very pleased to be affiliated with a dynamic organization such as the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, it will only mean better service for our clients and others in this region who either need our services or wish to expand their knowledge about epilepsy”              said Lyons, who’s sentiments are echoed by his staff.  “The rural nature of our region means that we, as case managers,  spend more time out in the county health departments and educating primary care providers and have less time to focus on administration and other important tasks such as grant-writing and fundraising, “ said Pat Smith , who has been a Case Manager in the region for 18 years.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors is led by Patricia Dean, ARNP, MSN; Coordinator of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Miami Children’s Hospital; and former member of the National Epilepsy Foundation Board.  The Board has expanded to include several dedicated individuals from the North Central Florida Region.  Stephanie Warrington of Synogen Development Group and Tonya Talton of Ortho-McNeil Neurologics have joined Drs. Sackellares and Uthman on the Board.  “As EFOF board members, our focus over this next year will be to better understand the unmet need in the area while identifying our local allies and those affected by epilepsy who can work alongside with us to raise funds and expand our mission with the help of EFOF,” said Warrington.

Hidden Healthcare Crisis

EFOF administers a statewide program of education advocacy and fundraising under the theme of  “Epilepsy: Florida’s Hidden Healthcare Crisis”. More than 360,000 Floridians are estimated to suffer the effects of various epilepsy disorders.

“All of the factors that create an explosion of epilepsy cases are present in Florida,” said EFOF Executive Director Karen Basha Egozi.  “Statistically, epilepsy is most likely to affect children and seniors, both of which are unusually large portions of our population.  Florida’s active, outdoor and athletic year-round lifestyle further increases the risk of the disorder as the onset of epilepsy frequently occurs as a result of head injuries.  Finally, our state is home to 11 military bases, and we are witnessing an alarming rise in epilepsy as a result of head trauma incurred by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“There is every reason to believe that epilepsy is a crisis in Florida.  Clinicians and medical centers cannot keep up with the diagnosis and treatment demands created by Florida’s rapidly growing population,” said Patricia Dean, EFOF Board President.

“Diagnosis and treatment is further frustrated by Florida’s language and cultural diversity, its limited public transportation system and by its shortage of neurologists and epileptologists.  We hope to increase accurate diagnosis by eliminating some of the stigma and misunderstandings about the disorder,” Dean added.

About the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida works to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; improves how people with epilepsy are perceived, accepted and valued in society; and provides medical care, prevention and education, case management, support groups, children’s camps and advocacy for persons with epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is the lead agency for epilepsy service programs sponsored by the State of Florida, and is also the sole licensee of the National Epilepsy Foundation in the state.

Epilepsy Foundation of Florida Executive named tops in country

Friday, September 26, 2008

Epilepsy Foundation of Florida Executive named tops in country

Miami, Fla. (September 26, 2008) – Karen Basha Egozi, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida (EFOF), has been selected by the Epilepsy Foundation as the national organization’s affiliate Executive of the Year.

The award, which was announced at the national Foundation’s 5th Annual Leadership Conference on September 20th in Dallas, Texas, recognizes the individual who demonstrates superior leadership skills in all aspects of affiliate operations, including board and volunteer leadership development, planning, staff and volunteer management, programming, funding development and community visibility.

“While it is an honor to be nominated and selected for this prestigious individual award, it is also a testament to the members of the Foundation team and our supporters who work tirelessly every day to advance our organization’s mission,” said Egozi.

“During her three-year tenure as the state Foundation’s executive director, Karen has achieved extraordinary results across many organizational lines, from strengthening advocacy efforts on behalf of those who have Epilepsy to fund raising and so much more,” said Patricia Dean, ARNP, MSN, president of EFOF’s Board of Directors and Coordinator of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Miami Children’s Hospital. “She is a tireless worker, an inspiring leader and an individual who is making a genuine difference in the lives of Floridians with Epilepsy as well as their families.

“We applaud this well-deserved recognition and congratulate Karen on her many accomplishments,” Dean added. Under Egozi’s administration, the agency’s funding has increased to its present revenues of $5 million, through diversification of funding sources and the expansion of fundraising efforts. Additionally, she has secured in-kind donations and reduced medical services for patients totaling $385,000 in savings during 2007 alone.

Further, for the past two years Egozi has secured and overseen a $400,000 Florida Department of Transportation grant to purchase and distribute more than 42,000 bicycle helmets throughout the state.

Prior to assuming her current position, Egozi previously directed the Epilepsy Foundation of South Florida. She has been the statewide Foundation leader since 2006, when it was created through the merger of the South Florida chapter and the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Florida. Egozi heads a statewide staff of 37, with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Gainesville providing direct services to 31 of the 67 counties in Florida.

About the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida works to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; improves how people with epilepsy are perceived, accepted and valued in society; and provides medical care, prevention and education, case management, support groups, children’s camps and advocacy for persons with epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is the lead agency for epilepsy service programs sponsored by the State of Florida, and is also the sole licensee of the National Epilepsy Foundation in the state. For more information please visit www.epilepsyfla.org