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

Food & Nutrition Classes Offered This Summer

. Posted in Events, News

Food-AND-Nutrition-Classes-Offered-All-Summer-Long-Online-And-FreeThanks to the University of Florida’s Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Program, everyone is eligible to participate in a series of food and nutrition classes being offered online.

These classes are free and open to the public. They begin in June and run through the middle of August 2020.

FPH residents, staff and family members are encouraged to participate, however, you must sign up by clicking through to the registration links found here.

The UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Family & Consumer Sciences division is dedicated to providing science-based information to empower individuals and families to make changes to improve their health and quality of life.

If you have questions, please contact Andrea Nikolai, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, Family and Consumer Science Agent at or 863-519-1041.

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.

May Wellness Award Winner Finds Joy Through Art

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

Florida Presbyterian Homes is pleased to recognize resident Linda P. as the Wellness Star for May 2020.

Wellness-Star-Award-winner-finds-joy-through-artThis month’s wellness star award focused on the intellectual dimension of wellness, which can be defined as engaging in creative pursuits and intellectually stimulating activities.

Beginning as early as the 8th grade, Linda’s teacher recognized her natural talent for art. Linda attended the University of Cincinnati’s fine arts college majoring in costume design which was a co-op program. A co-op program combines both classroom and real-work experiences together.

Linda’s loves painting flowers with lighter shades and vivid colors. “I’m happiest when I am painting,” said Linda. “I want to bring people joy when they look at my work.”

A truly gifted artist, Linda has always had a passion for art and enjoys working with her fingers. She enjoys sewing and made her children’s clothes while they were growing up. As an adult, Linda was quick to find various opportunities to join craft and painting groups. Her favorite medium is water-color, but she has experience with acrylics, as well. Over the years, Linda has attended a variety of art workshops and courses — sometimes through the Lakeland Art guild, at an artist’s home or on a nearby college campus.

When asked what wellness means to her, Linda said, “Eating healthy, getting exercise, having a spiritual life, and keeping the right mental attitude.”

Congratulations Linda, our Wellness Star Award Winner!

Boost Your Immunity with Healthful Lifestyle Choices

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

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

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is an organization whose members focus on evidence-based practice of helping individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and quality of life. Lifestyle practices and health habits are among the nation’s most important health determinants. Changing unhealthy behaviors is foundational to medical care, disease prevention and health promotion.

Lifestyle-Choices-To-Boost-ImmunityHere are a few suggestions to help improve your immune system during this pandemic:

  • Mind your stress – Take a few seconds to focus on your breathing and relax.
  • No Smoking – Avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling any substance which can be toxic to the lungs.
  • Healthy Eating – Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
  • Quality Sleep – Aim to sleep 7 to 9 hours per night, and work to develop a regular sleep routine.
  • Activity – Regular, moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Connectivity – Physical distancing is essential but don’t isolate. Connect with friends and family via phone calls, texts, Zoom sessions and FaceTime.

By taking these simple actions, you are not only improving your health and well-being, but also you’re helping to boost your immunity. Stay well!


Community Update

. Posted in FPH

A note from our Executive Director and CEO, Joe X.:

As of today, April 27th, FPH has not had a resident or staff member with a confirmed COVID-19 test.

Much of our focus these days is on “social distancing” and differing opinions on when to re-open, how to re-open, and if to re-open. Here, at Florida Presbyterian Homes, we are closely aligned as an organization on one simple premise: the wellbeing of our residents and staff come first. This premise is supported by our Board and is consistent with who we are as a faith-centered organization. Residents and staff have all made significant changes and compromises in their lives in support of this one premise. We are united in this effort and that, along with prayer and faith, has made the difference to date.

Unfortunately, there is only so much that our residents and employee team members can control. This virus is unique. A person can be a carrier and never know it. More testing is needed, but even with amazing efforts to increase local testing, there is not enough to date to foster statistically viable projections in our county and state. FPH is in a good position regarding key personal protection equipment but things like alcohol wipes are scarce. We can’t control what others do regarding a re-opening. We will relax restrictions here based on clinical information from the CDC, FDOH, Dr. Fauci, our state associations, what we learn from colleague providers, and the experience and wisdom of our clinical leadership team. It may not always align with what others are doing.

We recognize and have prepared for, as best we can, the possibility that one day we, like so many other long-term care providers, may have to report a confirmed case of COVID19. Our prayers and efforts are to minimize the potential of this happening. We also pray for fellow long-term care providers and those they serve. Now more than ever is a time to work together and unite for the one sole purpose of protecting our most vulnerable generation, and the people who care for them.

Please continue remaining diligent and following protocols that mitigate exposure for our residents and staff. We ask families to be patient and to also continue to adhere to the protocols that are in place here. We are doing everything possible, including the use of the technology available to us, to connect our Assisted Living and Porter McGrath residents with loved ones.

Your continuing prayers are also greatly appreciated.

If you should have questions, comments, or concerns that I can help you with, please contact me, Joe X., at 863-577-6033 or at, and either I or one of our team members will get back to you as soon as possible. God bless you now and always!

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