First Meeting of the Hershey/Harrisburg Pulmonary Hypertension Support Group

February 4, 2008

By Volunteer Reporter, PH patient and Lehigh-Poconos (Penn.) Support Group Leader -- Joan Stevenson 

Leaders: Stacy Good and Laura Delo

Twenty-four patients and their caregivers attended from Lancaster, Elizabethtown, Harrisburg and Allentown, Pennsylvaniafor the Hershey/Harrisburg PH Support Group's first meeting. This new group covers central and south Pennsylvania, an area previously not covered. Patients in these areas previously had to go to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Allentown to attend a support group meeting.

The meeting was held in a room in the Hershey Medical Center’s University Physician’s Group Building. Jessica Lazar, a Certified Physician’s Assistant from Dr. Srinivas Murali’s office in Pittsburgh, Penn., was the speaker. She did a presentation on what happens when you are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and what treatments are available. Stacy’s own PH Specialist, Dr. Shoaib Alam of the Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center, was present throughout the meeting.

Much of the meeting was about people connecting with one another and feeling good about the frlends they made and what they had learned at the meeting.

As a new support group leader holding her first meeting, Stacy learned that people want to know more about pulmonary hypertension and group members especially wanted to connect with others and talk about what is going on in their lives, what they experience and how they feel. Jessica’s presentation also showed them what to expect in the future. 

Helpful people: 
  • United Therapeutics sponsored the speaker and food.
  • Dr. Alam’s staff helped get the room and the speaker.
Results of this first meeting:
  • Patients who did not already have a PH Specialist got to know Dr. Alam.
  • Stacy did not realize how easy it was to put together the meeting, and she loved connecting with people when they called to say they were coming.
  • Everyone expressed a need to meet monthly so Stacy is planning in-between meetings at a nearby coffee house or restaurant.
  • Her advice for support group leaders planning their first meetings: Ask your PH doctor for help.
Looking forward:

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