Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos: Physician, Philanthropist, Mother, Wife
By Maria Sonnenberg // May 21, 2015
available to her patients 24/7
If only the energy, desire to help and joy for life of Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos could be bottled and distributed, the world would be a much better place.
The medical dynamo married to former Florida Senate president Mike Haridopolos has just started a new page in a multi-chaptered life when in February she officially opened her new family practice office at Viera Health and Wellness.
As she tackles everything in life, Haridopolos is 100 percent committed to the success of her new practice.
“I’m available to my patients 24/7, so it’s pretty much a concierge practice, but without the annual fee,” she said.
“My patients have the best of both worlds.”
Accessibility and affordability aren’t all her patients will be enjoying at Haridopolos’ new office.
“By the end of the year, we would like to add ancillary services that include rejuvenating and cosmetic services,” she explained.
“We will still be traditional primary care, but with additional services. My practice focuses on building an excellent two-way conversation with each patient, so together we can plan modest lifestyle adjustments in diet and exercise to improve the overall quality of their life.”
Formerly with Omni Healthcare since 2002, Haridopolos took a year’s sabbatical in 2014 to explore the path she should next follow.
“I wanted to hit the reset button, I wanted something different,” she said.
The year was not a vacation, for Haridopolos and her family decided to forego their two-acre home in Merritt Island for a more convenient, if smaller, residence on an acre in the Lake Washington area.
“It’s in the same neighborhood as our in-laws, who love to babysit for the kids,” said Haridopolos.
The new house is also much more convenient to the schools her children attend. Eight-year-old Reagan and 13-year-old Hayden are students at the school Wade Christian Academy, while 17-year-old Alexis is a junior at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.
ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, Board Certified Family Practitioner, “As a wife, mother, doctor and advocate, I strive for balance every day. I enjoy helping my patients and giving back to my community.”
Hope For A Single Mom
Mike and Stephanie Haridopolos like to think outside the box when it comes to working for the betterment of the community.
When the couple decided to host a party at their new place to benefit Hope for a Single Mom, they opted for a party to end all parties for this grassroots organization that helps single mothers fighting breast cancer by providing financial support to help them keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
In true Haridopolos style, the May 30 event will not be a tepid affair with somebody’s friend’s band headlining.
Instead, Fran Cosmo, former lead singer of the band Boston, will bring other of the original band members to sing in the Haridopolos backyard.
Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey will emcee the event, and his daughter, Janna, will be the opening act.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event will go directly to local single mothers battling breast cancer while raising their children.
Haridopolos knows personally how tough it can be to be a single mom. She is also a victim of domestic violence who carefully plotted her family’s escape strategy.
Abused by her first husband for seven years, Haridopolos left the relationship as soon as she graduated residency and snagged a job.
“Once I had a paycheck, I got out,” she said. “I had to do it for me and for my family.”
True Life Partner
Haridopolos was to reconnect with the former college friend, Mike, who would become her true life partner.
He was her knight in shining armor and life has been wonderful since then.
Going public with her story took considerable courage, but raised awareness of the plight of domestic violence victims not just on a local level, but on a national one.
“I was ashamed to come out, but it was so cathartic to know my story was helping other people,” said Haridopolos.
Haridopolos soon became a featured speaker at special events to fight domestic violence and a champion for protective services for domestic abuse victims.
Her experience as the First Lady of the Florida Senate helped her grasp the political nuances necessary to affect policy changes against abuses and to increase funding for victims’ shelters.
Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi invited Haridopolos to discuss her experiences at the State Capitol during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. She serves on the board of trustees of the Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence Foundation.
In typical fashion, she looks back at that very dark chapter in her life now not with anger, but with optimism about the experience.
“Life’s struggles are necessary for growth,” she said.
“Without them we stay the same and cannot grow into the person that we are meant to become. Struggles not only make us stronger, better and wiser people, they also let us learn more about ourselves and our purpose in life.”
A graduate of Stetson University and A.U.C School of Medicine, Haridopolos studied in London and the British West Indies, completing her residency at Albany Medical Center in New York.
Dedicated To Helping Others
Becoming a doctor had always been a given in her life, although her family was not wealthy and she knew she would have to fight for that medical degree.
When she was all of three months of age, Haridopolos was diagnosed with atrial septal defect, a congenital heart condition that leaves a hole in the wall of the upper two chambers of the heart.
The problem required surgery when she was four.
“I was fortunate to have an incredible team of doctors and nurses,” she said.
“Ever since my surgery, I wanted to become a doctor so I too can help others heal.”
Her philosophy of healing is simple and to the point.
“As a primary care physician, I have dedicated my life’s work to helping others stay healthy by empowering them with knowledge,” she said.
She walks the walk when it comes to health, and makes sure her family follows her lead by eating right and exercising often.
“It is important to lead the life I want to see my patients live,” she said.
She and Mike power walk for 30 minutes each day.
“I feel I get a better workout than running,” she said.
She works out three times a week at the Control Results personal training facility in Viera. On the days she doesn’t work out, she dances.
While Mike veers towards golf, Stephanie found her true avocation on the dance floor.
“Mike has golf and I have dance, and we meet in the middle,” she said.
In 2010, Haridopolos knew very little about dancing.
“I had never danced before,” she said, but that didn’t stop her from signing up for Dancing with Brevard, which raised funds for a local children’s nonprofit.
Addicted To Dancing
Stephanie learned the hustle from her professional dance partners and hustled her way to raising $100,000 for the charity as the top dancer that year.
Along the way, she also developed a happy addiction to dancing.
“I wanted to become a real ballroom dancer,” said Haridopolos, who promptly enrolled in classes at Melbourne Ballroom and has been studying and practicing since.
Her idol is Julianne Hough, two-time professional champion of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Haridopolos tackled dancing with the same dedication she gives to her many other interests, so it’s not surprising that she has become quite a proficient dancer who competes around the state. In June, she will be in Tampa to dance during the Pro Am Competition.
The immediate past president of the Brevard County Medical Society, Haridopolos is also a delegate to the Florida Medical Association.
In 2012, she orchestrated Governor Rick Scott’s appearance at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk, an event that drew 10,000 walkers to Viera.
“The Governor presented the survivors with medals, and it was a very emotional time that also helped funds and awareness for breast cancer patients,” said Haridopolos.
While her husband was in the Senate, Haridopolos used the opportunity to advocate for the passage of tough Pill Mill legislation in order to stop prescription drug abuse. She also served on Florida’s statewide drug task force.
She was also instrumental in the passage of the “Walk in Her Shoes Act,” which helps victims of sexual abuse and in helping to secure a state grant to establish a transitional housing facility for the National Veterans Homeless support group.
As a primary care provider, Haridopolos used her experiences to help reform Florida’s Medicaid system, acting as a sounding board to legislators on how to improve the system.
The million-dollar question with Haridopolos is how she manages a busy practice, three kids and the myriad charitable efforts she and her husband support.
“You just pull it together when you have to,” said this Renaissance woman, who is a physician, wife, mother and advocate.
“I want to be a role model for the community. I would be remiss if I didn’t give back.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, or to make an appointment with Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, call Viera Health & Wellness at 321-751-3389 or log on to VieraHealthandWellness.com