Community Update – July 2nd

. Posted in FPH

July 2, 2020


To All FPH Residents:

This morning July 2, 2020, we were notified that one of our Residential Living residents living on the North Side has been confirmed positive for COVID-19. This resident is in the hospital and the family has been notified. I cannot share any more specifics out of respect for the resident and in alignment with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Contact tracing has begun. Until contact tracing has been completed and we have called residents, who may have come in contact with this resident, we have temporarily closed all resident amenity spaces on the north side of campus. We are also suspending the Beauty Salon service on campus for all residents until further notice. Residents living on the north side who ordered meal service will be delivered their meals during this temporary period. The purpose of temporarily closing these spaces is to protect our residents and staff.

Once those identified residents at risk are contacted, we will require them to contact their physician and to self-isolate in their own home for fourteen days from today. Per the recommendation of our lab provider, we will be offering COVID-19 tests and a respiratory panel to the identified residents living north of Cresap Street.

Per the mandate from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) we have begun and will continue doing COVID-19 testing of all staff working in Assisted Living and Porter McGrath.

Our focus continues to be on the wellbeing of our residents and staff. We pray for those affected by this virus in any manner, and really that is everyone, and especially those we care deeply about who have been confirmed positive. We are all so thankful for your understanding.



Joseph J. Xanthopoulos, Executive Director/CEO  and Maria Rivera, Administrator

An Important Message from our CEO/Executive Director

. Posted in FPH, Industry News, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

 – By Joe Xanthopoulos, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director

The well-being of the residents living and staff working at Florida Presbyterian Homes are our greatest priority. COVID-19 is proving to be the most challenging immediate threat to our residents and staff. Face coverings/masks have been determined by the CDC, NIAID, Drs. Fauci, Redfield, Hahn and Admiral Dr. Giroir, and many other reputable and qualified health experts, to have a positive impact on mitigating risk and exposure for contracting COVID-19.

The attached letter which has been sent to the Lakeland Commissioners via the website and in hard copy print, was co-drafted by myself and Brian Robare at The Estates of Carpenters. We felt that this issue is of such importance to all people living in Lakeland and certainly especially for those we serve, we need to state our position strongly with the hope the Commission will reconsider the Executive Order presented by Mayor Mutz. We encourage everyone who receives the attached letter to contact our City Commissioners at

(Click on each attachment to view Page 1 and Page 2 of the full letter.) 

The Longest Day – Fundraiser

. Posted in FPH

Hooray – we’ve raised over $1,500 to help fight Alzheimer’s. The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. On June 20, people from across the world will fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice. We started last week on the longest day of the year AND WE’RE STILL GOING STRONG! Donations are being accepted through Friday, June 26. Join Team Memory Makers and help fight Alzheimer’s here:

Community Update – June 24th

. Posted in FPH

June 24, 2020


Hi Family & Friends,

I have been waiting a few days to send out this community update in hopes that I had the COVID test results that were done on June 9, 2020. These were conducted for the Assisted Living residents and Independent Living residents by the National Guard and sent to the Department of Health (DOH). On Monday evening, June 22nd, the DOH’s epidemiologist gave me a verbal report that all tests were negative. I have not received any written confirmation and will continue to follow up daily until they are received.

There are no confirmed cases in our skilled care currently.

We have made arrangements with a private lab for the residents in residential living houses who would like to get tested.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), adopted an Emergency Rule on June 15, 2020 requiring nursing home and assisted living staff to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks with testing provided by the State. On June 23, 2020, AHCA sent a memo with some logistic information on which vendor they have contracted with to distribute all testing kits and to perform the analysis. We should get more direction by the end of the week with more details. Testing will be conducted every two weeks beginning July 7, 2020 unless there are changes.

Below is an article from ABC Action News:

“A mandate to require face masks in the City of Lakeland failed to make it to a vote. The motion to vote died from a lack of a second so it never got to the voting stage of the process. The measure is similar to mandates recently passed by the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County that require masks to be worn indoors.

During Monday’s meeting, city commissioners heard from Danielle Dummond, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Lakeland Regional Health and Dr. Steven Achinger of Watson Clinic.

Dr. Achinger said this is a “critical time point” to act and make a huge impact in the spread of the virus in Lakeland. He also said masks are the most cost-effective way of continuing to open the local economy in a safe manner.

‘The more masks that we have being worn in a public space, the safer that public space is. No question,’ Dr. Achinger said.

During the meeting, Dr. Achinger compared asking the public to wear masks to second-hand smoke. He said banning smoking in public spaces wasn’t a popular decision, but it protected those who were damaged by the choices of others.

Dummond told commissioners that LRH has seen an increase in ventilator use. She said of the 50 ICU beds available at LRH, 48 are currently in use and, of those, 30 are COVID-19 positive patients.

Despite city commissioners hearing from Dummond and Dr. Achinger on why mandating masks to be worn in the city of Lakeland is important, nobody seconded Mayor William Mutz’s motion to approve the executive order.

‘Alright, so there is no motion to accept the executive order, and we will not do a mask mandate,”’ Mayor Mutz said. ‘”And the result of that will be in the numbers.’”

This article can be found at,

We at Florida Presbyterian Homes, continue to mandate the use of masks and highly encourage staff and residents to wear masks when they are out of their homes. We have and continue to offer masks to any resident in the community that are in need of one, and recently gave a goodie-bag to all employees with cloth masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizers, etc. to keep in their vehicles or on their person when out and about.

We have communicated to Lakeland Regional Hospital that we will resume admissions for short-term care. These admissions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and analyzed by the clinical team to minimize any spread of this disease.

Our Life Enrichment continues to offer new and adjusted programming to keep residents engaged. If you would like to schedule a video chat with your loved one, please reach out to Alexis Bautz, Associate Executive Director.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Continued blessings to you and your household,

Maria Rivera, RN, Administrator

Community Update – June 19th

. Posted in FPH

June 19, 2020

Hi family & friends,

We hope this letter finds you well. As of today, there have been no new confirmed cases at FPH. The employee who tested positive a few weeks ago was followed by us and the DOH and remains with no symptoms and was released to work this week per CDC guidelines.

Over the past week and a half, we completed baseline testing on all staff, all Porter McGrath (PMG) residents, and all consenting Assisted Living residents. All residents and guests of PMG tested negative and we are waiting on the results of those in Assisted Living. All new hires will be tested for COVID as a pre-employment condition. We ask that any home health personnel report to the screening area before and after their visit and abide by the protocols set forth by the clinical team. All contracted providers must show proof of a negative COVID test or be tested with our employees. As you know, the State of Florida is in Phase 2 of reopening. We urge everyone to remain vigilant and cautious: wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands.

The most recent Executive Order, issued on June 16th by Gov. DeSantis, requires testing for nursing home and assisted living facility staff every two weeks, effective July 7th. We are still waiting to hear more information on this and are working with our industry partners to come up with a plan for testing.

We continue to screen all employees, wear masks, clean frequent high-touch surfaces, and screen residents. We halted non-resident admissions to PMG and will resume after all pending test results come in. Once we resume admissions, we will continue to ask for COVID testing with negative results prior to admission.

Our Life Enrichment Team continues to work hard to bring engaging programming to the residents in each area of living. We welcome any videos or pictures that you would like to send to your loved ones at FPH. If you would like to schedule a video chat with your loved one, please reach out to us to schedule a time.

Again, we urge everyone to wear a mask, avoid groups, social distance, and wash hands.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Continued blessings to you and your household,

Maria Rivera, RN, Administrator and Alexis Bautz, Associate Executive Director

June is Cataract Awareness Month

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes

Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. The longer cataracts are left untreated, the more difficult it can be to successfully remove the cataract and restore vision.

Cataract-Awareness-Month-Is-JuneWith June being Cataract Awareness Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public that early detection and treatment of cataracts is critical to preserving sight. Early cataract detection signs include:

  • cloudy vision
  • difficulty seeing at night
  • increased light sensitivity
  • appearance of halos and glare
  • detection from a routine eye exam.

Regular eye exams are especially important for older adults. An eye doctor can detect the presence of cataracts even before a person experiences any vision problems.

Be sure to schedule your eye exam annually. If you’re having eye problems such as the ones listed above, see an eye doctor immediately.



“…for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

. Posted in FPH

June 9, 2020

Dear Residents and Staff,

The U.S. Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Galatians 3:28 (ESV) states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As a Christian organization, Florida Presbyterian Homes strongly believes all men are created equal in the eyes of God and therefore we strongly denounce racism in all its forms and the violent and uncalled for act that brought about the tragic death of George Floyd.
Our prayer is that our people and our nation will see and understand the impact of racism. We further pray that this recognition and wisdom will lead to action that will foster meaningful change in our nation and our world.
It is up to each of us to learn about the true impact of systemic racism in our society and to then, armed with wisdom and God’s love, take each opportunity we have to foster positive change. Recognizing the problem is just a start. God calls us to make this world a better place for each of our brothers and sisters.
To our staff and our residents, if you are struggling with this issue and need support or want to talk about how to go about making a difference on the issue of racism, please contact Chaplain Etta or me, Joe X. The Florida Presbyterian Board of Director Officers and I feel it is very important that we share the position of our organization on this issue as we recognize the problem and seek to foster positive change.


Michael Spake, Board Chair, and Joe Xanthopoulos, CEO/Executive Director

Life-Long Educator Recognized with June Wellness Star Award

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes is proud to award resident Gene Scruggs with the Wellness Star for June 2020. This month’s wellness star focuses on the intellectual dimension of wellness, which can be defined as engaging in creative pursuits and intellectually stimulating activities.

Dr-Gene-Scruggs-Wins-Wellness-AwardDr. Scruggs has made wonderful contributions as an educator, author and coordinator of the FPH Academy. In fact, several residents are currently reading one of his books — The View from Brindley Mountain: A Memoir of the Rural South, which is available in bookstores and online. His next book, The Widening View, should be published and available by late summer or early fall of 2020.

Dr. Scruggs received his Bachelor’s degree in comparative literature, as well as his Masters and Doctorate in linguistics and French Studies from University of Kentucky. He taught at four universities throughout his career, but spent most of his profession working at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Dr. Scruggs finished the last 10 years at USF as Director of International Studies and Exchange.

His gifts and talents from his professional life have served him well with his volunteer teaching opportunities right here at FPH. (We’re lucky to have him!) Dr. Scruggs started helping his wife with her Bible studies in early church history and new testament, which segued into a Bible discussion class that draws around 20-25 residents each time they meet. He currently is leading a creative writing class and oversees the Academy, often as a guest presenter. According to Dr. Scruggs, his favorite volunteer activity has been the time spent in the assisted living facility while leading “Tuesday Morning Dialogue.”

When asked what wellness mean to him, Dr. Scruggs said, “I feel well when my brain is working. If I can get up, read a book or do a crossword puzzle, then I’m doing ok.”

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Dr. Scruggs for his most recent award.

Community Update: 6-4-2020

. Posted in FPH

June 4, 2020
Dear Residents, Staff, Family, and POAs of Residents,

The wellbeing of our residents has been Florida Presbyterian Homes’ primary focus each day and every day for over 65 years. This has continued to be our primary focus since the inception of COVID-19 in our country and state. FPH staff have taken numerous precautions and have been exceedingly diligent and thoughtful each day following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) protocols. Residents in each level of living have also done their very best in the following recommendations we have provided. All with the hope that we could mitigate the risk of exposure to both residents and staff on our campus. We all hoped that there would not be a day where we would have to write this letter informing FPH residents, family, resident powers of attorney, and staff that a staff member, although asymptomatic, has tested and been confirmed with having COVID-19. The staff member is no longer on the schedule and is getting their needs addressed. The staff, residents, and family of residents potentially directly impacted by this circumstance are being notified via phone. If you have not or do not receive a phone call, you are being notified now as an appropriate courtesy. Please remember that out of respect for the privacy and confidentiality of the person involved we cannot share additional information.

We continue to follow the most current recommendations from the FDOH, the CDC, Polk County Emergency Operations Center (PCEOC), and track information from our state and national associations, the National Institute of Health (NIH), our Governor, and the White House. The FDOH recently mandated testing of all Skilled Care and Assisted Living (AL) employees. The Agency for Health Care Administration requested all Skilled and AL residents are tested as well. On Monday we began testing but unfortunately, did not receive enough tests. We have requested more tests and are working with the Department of Health and our lab to get more tests as soon as possible.

Please know that we will continue to take the necessary steps and do everything within our power and by following the clinical protocols recommended by the FDOH, CDC, and PCEOC, to minimize the impact on additional residents and/or staff from being affected. If you have comments or questions, please reach out to us. You may also receive updated information through our websites. Please continue to keep all of our residents and staff in your prayers.

Joseph J. Xanthopoulos, CEO/ED and Maria Rivera, RN, NHA, Administrator

Community Update: 5-22-2020

. Posted in FPH, News

For 65 years, Florida Presbyterian Homes (FPH) has put the well-being of our residents first, with the mission of: Providing compassionate personalized continuing care and service of the highest quality consistent with our Christian Heritage. This commitment is now at the forefront as we address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, FPH has not had a resident or staff member with a confirmed COVID-19 test.

One of the most heartbreaking challenges communities here and across the country are facing will be shared from the perspective of a couple who live at FPH in an upcoming story in The Ledger. One spouse lives in Independent Living and the other spouse lives in our Skilled Long-Term Care facility, Porter McGrath. The Ledger article will describe the challenges of being apart from loved ones due to COVID-19.

“We understand the past several months has been very difficult for our residents, their families, and our staff as we have all been dealing with the most serious global health crisis in generations. In order to protect the most vulnerable population, the State of Florida and federal government have put into place emergency measures strictly limiting the access to assisted living and skilled nursing facilities,” said Joe Xanthopoulos, CEO and Executive Director of Florida Presbyterian Homes. “We are extremely grateful to all our residents, staff, and family of our residents who have put the well-being of our residents and our staff first, and who have supported the protocols we have put into place as needed and required. We ask them to continue supporting these protocols.”

Xanthopoulos went on to say, “Every day, we are tracking information and guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and communicating with our state and national associations, colleague providers, and area health systems. We are committed to implementing ‘best practice’ protocols and procedures to minimize the risk here to our residents and staff. We consider all dimensions of wellness including emotional well-being in everything we do here. Our life enrichment and clinical care teams have provided video chats and phone calls to connect Assisted Living and Porter McGrath residents with their loved ones. We have also added more small group and individual activity programming during this time.”

Xanthopoulos said these are difficult times for not only our community, but for the entire country. “We fully understand that this situation is very stressful for our residents and their families. We remain committed to minimizing the risk of COVID-19 to all of our residents and staff during this pandemic, and we address challenges like this in an effective and compassionate manner consistent with our Christian heritage,” Xanthopoulos said in closing.

Florida Presbyterian Homes (FPH) was established in 1955 and is an accredited and award- winning continuing care retirement community designed to accommodate the changing needs of residents as they age. A wide variety of homes, duplexes and apartments for independent seniors are available, as well as an on-site rehab unit, wellness center, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. The campus is located on 48-acres along the shores of Lake Hunter in the historic Dixieland neighborhood of Lakeland.

For more information about Florida Presbyterian Homes, visit the website ( or call 863- 688-5521. Members of the news media may contact Joe Xanthopoulos directly at 863-577-6002.

© 2019 Florida Presbyterian Homes
16 Lake Hunter Drive - Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-688-5521 or Marketing: 863-577-6001