For cardiologist Dr. David Ancona, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to promote heart health among caregivers while having some fun.
Ancona, who runs a private practice affiliated with Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is gearing up for his annual Valentine’s celebration after taking a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He hosted the first party—which spans a few hours on a February afternoon—more than 30 years ago as an opportunity to get to know his co-workers better. Now, he continues the tradition to catch up with old and new friends around the Memorial Healthcare System hospital and its medical office building.
“It’s rewarding in that people have a certain routine of interaction at the hospital and in their offices. When you can break that routine and enjoy having fun in a different way, it creates that feeling of connection you otherwise don’t have,” Ancona said.
He and a few co-workers deliver invitations to the various offices and wards at the hospital, and all staff are welcome. He estimates about 250 healthcare workers stop by the party before or after their shifts and on breaks.
Memorial Hospital West CEO Vedner Guerrier said the celebration is a great way to bring together staff from across specialties and departments in a lighthearted way.
“We’re social beings. … This is an opportunity for us to actually see people, shake their hands, give a hug and engage. That’s been missing over the last two years in particular,” Guerrier said.
Ancona also uses the party as an opportunity to promote heart health among colleagues, with his team members available to answer questions and chat about cardiovascular fitness.
“He’s constantly engaging with folks in the community and also with our staff to talk about that need for wellness, and heart health in particular, knowing that heart disease is the number-one killer of people in the United States,” Guerrier said.