Cardiac Rehab Patients Start “The Lunch Bunch” to Build Lasting Friendships

The Lunch Bunch gathers at their annual spring picnic in 2015 hosted by one of their members.
The Lunch Bunch gathers at their annual spring picnic in 2015 hosted by one of their members.

When cardiac rehab patient Eilene Pottorff first came to our Outpatient Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, she was discouraged about starting her road to recovery–until one day when she found herself in a row of treadmills between two other rehab patients, both named Carol.

“They managed to cheer me up to no end,” says Eilene. “So after that, as each new female patient would come in to exercise, we would go over and talk to her, ask her what she had. We’d show her our scars and by the time we walked away, she would be laughing and feeling a lot better.”

But the friendships didn’t end there. Soon, this growing group of women started going out for lunch after they finished their rehab sessions. “Then we started going to someone’s home because it was cheaper,” Eileen remarks. From there, the “Lunch Bunch” club was born.

“We realized that as the women finished their prescribed 36 visits and then left the rehab center, we didn’t know their names or address and would never see them again,” says Eilene. “So we started a club called The Lunch Bunch.”

Eilene spreads the word about the club throughout the rehab center, telling new patients, “‘It’s a club with no dues, no by-laws, no elections and no fights…and the best thing of all is, no one will ever read the minutes of the last meeting.’ That gets them interested every time,” she says.

With 37 members, the Lunch Bunch has been hosting monthly gatherings for 13 years. Each member has been through cardiac rehab at AAMC. “We jokingly say that we got ‘well and happy and pretty’ all thanks to the staff at the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center,” says Eilene.

 AAMC offers a variety of rehabilitation services, including cancer therapy, occupational and speech therapy, and physical therapy. Visit askAAMC.org/Rehab for more information.

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