Spotlight on Support Groups: Santa Barbara

By Debbie Drell
PHA Director of Volunteer Services

Dr. Sager, PH patient Norma Pew, and Zoe Schultz, RN, MSNWhen you think of support groups, you probably don’t think of meetings in a zoo. But when the Santa Barbara Pulmonary Hypertension Support Group decided to host a very special (and fun!) meeting for its one-year anniversary last August, it brought their patients to the city zoo for socializing and a special dinner. Since PH patients talk openly about their condition, the only “elephants in the room” at this meeting were, quite literally, the elephants in the zoo! How about THAT for a support group celebration?

The Santa Barbara PH Support Group held its inaugural meeting in August 2009, and the group is still going strong. Meetings take place every three months with 30–50 patients and caregivers at each meeting. The group not only provides time for socializing, but offers medical presentations with experts in the field. Topics include insurance issues, dealing with hospitalizations, managing nutrition and diet, considerations for oxygen therapy and exercise, managing stress, emergency situations and much more.

The Santa Barbara Support Group started when Dr. Jeffrey S. Sager moved to Santa Barbara and went into private practice at Santa Barbara Pulmonary Consultants. Patients asked him to start a PH support group, and he did. Dr. Sager helps with meeting planning, and the two support group leaders include Dr. Sager’s nurse, Zoe Schultz, RN, MSN, and his wife, Dana. Even Dr. Sager’s children, Dylan (age 9) and Taryn (age 7), are familiar faces at the meetings.

Thank you to Dr. Sager, Dana, Zoe and the entire group! For more information about the Santa Barbara Pulmonary Hypertension Support Group, visit the group website or contact the leaders by email at


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