Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
5:17 pm EDT
Fri, July 10, 2020

VITAS of Lake-Sumter awards $50,000 grant to heart association

Sudden weight gain or swelling, irregular heart beat or crushing chest pain are all symptoms that could suggest heart failure.

Knowing more about self-care will be addressed in the community as VITAS Healthcare of Lake and Sumter counties recently presented a $50,000 grant to the American Heart Association (AHA).  The grant will be apportioned over the next three years to promote community education and awareness about heart disease, its risks and prevention.

Natalia Hernandez, regional director of market development for VITAS, is shown in the photo presenting a $50,000 check for $50,000 from VITAS Lake-Sumter to Marlin Hutchens, left, and David Cross, right, board members of Greater Orlando American Heart Association.

In its first year in this community, VITAS of Lake-Sumter, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, is partnering with the American Heart Associations as one of its cardiac initiatives.

Other programs being discussed include health screenings and challenges, cooking classes, CPR education and wellness symposiums.

“The American Heart Association looks forward to working with VITAS to build Heart Healthy programs right here in our community,” Joey Conicella, senior director for the American Heart Association of Greater Orlando, says in a news release.

Local cardiologists and their staffs will be invited to periodic meetings and evaluation of programs. They will be asked to offer feedback on how best to address the needs of patients with serious progressive heart disease, including congestive heart failure (CHF).  One cause of CHF is the lessening of the heart’s pumping potential resulting in fluid buildup in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, or even arms and legs.

“Heart disease has unique symptoms and travels a unique course,” adds Patty Husted, VITAS executive vice president in the news release. “VITAS is committed to bringing the right care to patients near the end of life. By supporting education and outreach, we also seek to promote the heart health of the community and help the American Heart Association meet its mission of building healthier lives, free from cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

Additionally, all VITAS nurses, social workers and chaplains are trained in cardiac comfort care, a VITAS program to improve quality of life for hospice patients with heart disease.

VITAS (pronounced VEE-tahs), was established in 1978 and is headquartered in Miami. It is the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, operating 47 hospice programs in 14 states including Florida. The 2018 third quarter VITAS report states an average daily census of 17, 976 visits nationwide.