Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center provides a series of health support groups that are open to the community.
HAINES CITY – For quite some time now, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center has been offering its space to health support groups that meet and assist local patients, their families, and loved ones.
From time to time, the hospital also adds new groups to the list, which is what Heart of Florida recently did when two national health care foundations reached out to them for support.
That led to the start of a new Lupus Support Group, open to patients, family or friends of those with Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the individual’s own tissues and organs.
“The lupus group is a new one that we’re hosting,” said Linda Vendyl, the marketing manager for the hospital on U.S. 27 in Haines City. “The Lupus Foundation had contacted us to host that.”
The Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. (LFA) is the foremost national non-profit health organization dedicated to helping find the causes of and cure for lupus and providing support, services and hope to anyone impacted by the disease.
The new support group at Heart of Florida hospital will be meeting from 6:15–8:15 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the hospital. No pre-registration is needed, and anyone interested can call 1-800-339-0586 to learn more.
“During the third week of September, on Monday, Sept. 17, that will be the first meeting of that group,” Vendl said.
Another relatively new group is an Alzheimer’s Support Group, which is free and meets on the first Thursday of each month at the hospital at 40100 U.S. 27. To get more information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 863-292-9210.
“The Alzheimers Group is the other one that we host,” Vendl said. “These support groups are coordinated by those organizations.”
Alzheimers is an incurable form of dementia, that worsens as it progresses and eventually leads to death. It was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him.
There are several other health support groups run by Heart of Florida hospital, including a Better Breathers Program that provides free information and support for individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. These meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month from 1–3 p.m., in a program that Vendl said as been endorsed by the American Lung Association. Preregistration is required by calling 863-419-2247.
An Arthritis Support Group dubbed “Pain Relief and Increased Mobility,” is an opportunity for anyone suffering from arthritis to discuss current options for treatment and lifestyle management with the experts at Heart of Florida.
“We have staff here that coordinates those groups, and try to bring the latest information to the community,” Vendl said.
Those free classes meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 3 p.m., and anyone can preregister by calling 863-419-2500.
A Childbirth Education Series is also available, with education classes covering the various aspects of labor, delivery and breastfeeding. These classes are open to expectant parents, and the cost is $40 per couple. Taking the breastfeeding class only costs $15. To learn more, call 863-419-BABY (2229) or log on to CuddleBugsBaby.com and select Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center as your hospital.
Finally, a Diabetes Support Group provides information for people with diabetes and meets 1:30–2:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, September through May. To learn more, call 863-419-1677.
“Some of them predate me,” Vendl said. “The others are ones we developed and sponsor as well, and it’s to get to the community information they need on different diseases and how to help them.”
Typically, she said, attendance has been solid.
“We get a pretty good turnout,” Vendl said. “We see more people in the winter time. We have the snowbirds syndrome here, of course.”

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