Behind the Scenes: CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Mount Holly

Adam Orr (17 December 2014) Hurting? CaroMont’s new $24 million emergency center goes live next month The Gaston Gazette. 

CaroMont Health leaders say decades of patient feedback — and hard won lessons — were incorporated into the design of its new Mount Holly emergency department, which will open next month.

“It’s all about decreasing the patient stress,” said Sharon Summer, CaroMont’s director of emergency services. “Everything, from the open design to the higher ceilings, the windows that let in natural lighting, those are all psychological components we built in to help our patients.”

The $24 million project will offer emergency treatment services to all but the most critical patients.

The 38,000 square foot department will serve residents in northeast Gaston County and northwest Charlotte, a growing market CaroMont estimates at more than 20,000 people.

The freestanding emergency department isn’t the only project CaroMont Health has underway. The nonprofit launched a $13 million expansion of its main campus emergency department in July that should allow it to better serve the roughly 100,000 patients it sees each year.

Summer and CaroMont’s Manager of Emergency Services, Jodie Cook, said the emergency department will feature a “no wait,” treatment model.

How will it work? Patients entering the building will first be met by a nurse who will direct them through outpatient registration or bring them directly to a treatment room for triage. After, they’ll be moved to one of 12 treatment rooms or the results lounge.

Cook and Summer highlighted the center’s results lounge, a wide-open space featuring comfortable furniture, high ceilings and numerous TVs, as another design lesson the hospital has learned from decades of emergency patient care.

“Not every patient that comes will need to spend a night in a hospital bed,” Summer said. “Especially if they’re just waiting on lab or radiology work. By moving them out here, it improves the flow through the facility, and it’s going to make some patients feel much more comfortable.”

What it offers — and what it won’t

The new center will have a full lab, emergency medicine physicians, 25 registered nurses certified in advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support, in addition to an imaging suite featuring a CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound and, in the future, an MRI machine.

The center is also fully equipped to handle patients brought in by emergency responders — though there are exceptions.

“EMS does bring patients to the closest facility but they also have destination protocols for certain patients,” Cook said. “If they’re treating a stroke victim, they’ll take them to a stroke center.”

The Mount Holly center will, however, be equipped and staffed to handle those conditions to a point, Cook said. Heart attack patients, for instance, could be stabilized then taken to CaroMont’s main emergency department in Gastonia, she said.

Fixing privacy concerns

Cook said CaroMont, like other high traffic emergency care centers, has heard repeatedly about patient privacy concerns in its main campus emergency department. She said the nonprofit focused on those concerns from the project’s start.

“I’ve worked in the ER for 15 years at CaroMont and … we tried to think about every issue we’d heard over the years,” Cook said. “Patient privacy was the big one.”

Treatment rooms now offer separate entrances, one for hospital staff and another for patients’ families. Summer said those offer families a place to sit with patients throughout their visits but are structured so they’re never in the way of hospital staff.

“Families can stay together throughout the process,” Summer said.

Cook said she believes the new center could eventually treat up to a third of the patients who currently go to CaroMont’s main campus — as many as 30,000.

“It was a smart, modular design with built-in space,” Cook said. “Whenever that time comes to expand, I think we’ll be able to do it with no problem.”



CaroMont Regional – Mount Holly

Opening in January 2015, CaroMont Regional Medical Center – Mount Holly is a 38,000-square foot emergency department uniquely designed using an innovative model for patient care delivery. Click here for more information.

Health Insurance Plans

The Open Enrollment period for 2015 insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015.  Click here to learn more about insurance plans available in the Gaston County area.

Holiday Gift Idea, the Gift of Life

The joy of the holiday season is best experienced when giving back. CaroMont Health and Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) will host the 10th annual Puppies for Patients blood drive on Monday, December 8 from 7a.m. to 7p.m. in the Auditorium at CaroMont Regional Medical Center, 2525 Court Drive in Gastonia. Each donor will be invited to sign a gift tag to attach to a stuffed puppy. Puppies are delivered to pediatric patients at CaroMont Regional Medical Center through December 31, 2014, with the hope of bringing joy to a much-deserving child during the holidays.

To kick off the Puppies for Patients program, CBCC delivered stuffed puppies to pediatric patients in the Birthplace and the Pediatric Unit at CaroMont Regional on Tuesday. First delivery stop, the Birthplace where Mandi and Hoy Colson welcomed their second child, Emma Elizabeth Colson, into their lives on Sunday at 12:57 p.m.

“She was nine pounds, 14 ounces,” said Hoy Colson. “She’s bigger than a Thanksgiving turkey.”

Both parents are music teachers at Burns High School in Cherryville, so they think there’s a good chance baby Elizabeth will be musically inclined.

Cambrie Kinkaid, one year old, was a little shy at first, but as soon as some of the crowd left, she managed to give her puppy a big embrace.

The need for blood is ongoing and it is especially challenging to meet this need during the holiday season. CBCC is the primary blood supplier to the region’s patients and hospitals serving residents who live within 16 NC counties, including CaroMont Regional Medical Center. Blood donated with CBCC stays here.  Every drop goes to the local patients in the hospitals that they serve.

Those interested in donating blood on Dec. 8 can schedule their appointment in advance by logging onto (Click on donate and enter sponsor code: CRMC). Please donate blood and give the best holiday gift of all – life!

Blood Facts & Figures

Source: Community Blood Center of the Carolinas,

1 in 7 people entering the hospital need blood.

1 pint is all that’s need to save 3 lives.

Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

The whole blood donation process from registration to cookies typically takes about an hour.

Over 90 percent of people will need a blood transfusion during their lives.

Cancer patients are the number one recipient of blood products.

You can donate whole blood every 56 days, platelets every 14 days or Double Red Cells every 112 days.

A Sister’s Love

Mable Davis, a resident of Stanley, NC, turned 101 last December.  Just before her birthday, Mable fell and broke her pelvis.  As can happen in cases where patients must remain immobile for long periods of time, she developed pneumonia.  In February, she was admitted to the hospital to treat her pneumonia, but she just couldn’t seem to get her health back.

By mid-February, Mable was weary of the hospital and efforts to cure her mounting problems.  She missed her younger sister, Bobbie May, and was eager to get back to home in a local assisted living center.  So, Mable asked if it would be possible for her to go home under hospice care.  With her doctor’s blessing, Mable was admitted to Gaston Hospice on February 20, and spent her last days in the hospital under their care working to get her breathing back to normal and her pain under control.

She was able to make the move the first week of March.  During the months since, she has seen some improvement and is very happy to be at home with Bobbie.

“Hospice has done a marvelous job,” said Mable.  “It has meant the world to me to have them here.  They come visit, they let me talk and they have gotten my pain all straightened out.”

Mable’s case is anything but unique. The vast majority of Gaston Hospice’s referrals come from the hospital.  “Many times people don’t want to think about hospice care until they’re in the middle of a crisis,” says Dr. Michael Case, Gaston Hospice Medical Director.  “Like anything else, it’s easy to put off thinking about tomorrow until you realize that your tomorrow is going to be another day in the hospital.  But, the good thing about making that decision in the hospital is that we have the patient’s care plan in place to come up with a solid plan for going home, wherever home may be.”

In Mable’s situation, her goals were to have her pain and symptoms managed and to live out her days in Bobbie’s company.  When hospice combines efforts with a professional facility staff, the potential for excellent care is multiplied.  In fact, studies have shown that family satisfaction surveys from long-term care facilities show a marked improvement when hospice has been involved in their loved one’s care.  Wherever a patient spends their final days, studies link hospice care to better quality of life not only for the terminally ill, but for their families as well.

Diabetic-Friendly Pumpkin Pie

Serves: 8 | Serving Size: 1 slice, 1/8 of the pie

Total Time: 65 min | Prep: 5 min |

Cook: 60 min


  • 1, 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 12 ounces evaporated skim milk
  • 1/3 cup egg whites or non-fat egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup Splenda
  • 1 Pillsbury ready crust


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place pumpkin, spices, milk, egg, and Splenda in a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Place crust in the bottom of a 9″ glass pie pan and trim excess off edges.
  • Pour pie filling into crust. Bake until firm in center, about 50-60 minutes.
  • Allow to cool. Cut in 8 and serve each piece on a plate.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.

Serves 8. Each 1 slice, 1/8 of the pie serving: 235 calories, 7g fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 2mg cholesterol, 338mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 19g sugars, 6g protein.

Allergens: Milk, Egg, Wheat

*Reported allergens are based on listed ingredients in the recipe. If you are purchasing commercially packaged products such as pie crusts, cereal, or pasta, you need to read the label for additional allergen information.

© Food and Health Communications

Stop Smoking for Good with Quit Smart

Honaker, Andrea (2014, November 17). The Tools to Quit Smoking…for Good. The Gaston Gazette. 

Gaston County is up in smoke. Twenty-five percent of residents reported using tobacco daily, surpassing the 22 percent state average, according to the Gaston County 2012 Community Health Assessment Report.

Any time is a good time to quit, but health agencies are putting special emphasis on the dangers of smoking during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, which the American Cancer Society states is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the country.

CaroMont Health is giving local smokers the resources to snuff their bad habit for good in just one month. Quit Smart, started in November 2013, is a three-session group class that uses a self-help kit and personalized coaching to ease participants off nicotine. It also uses hypnosis and relaxation techniques, recommended medications and a simulated fake cigarette, said Amber Cochran, CaroMont health promotion manager.

“Quit Smart calls it ‘warm chicken’ quitting, where you use brand switching to lower the amount of nicotine you consume until you actually quit,” Cochran said.

Forty-two people have completed the program so far, and CaroMont has brought it into two workplaces.

Stephanie Rutherford, a Gastonia resident and a training coding specialist at CaroMont, is one of the success stories.

“I had been wanting to quit for a while. I do have two small grandchildren, and they’re getting older. That was my main goal for doing it, and for myself too, health-wise … make sure I can live longer and be with them,” she said.

A smoker since around age 15, Rutherford’s attempt to quit a couple years with medication was unsuccessful. But on Jan. 21, she became smoke free through Quit Smart, and she’s still staying strong 10 months later.

The program teaches smokers how to change their routine to avoid ritual smoking sessions. Rutherford switched to a different kind of cigarettes weekly, each with less milligrams of nicotine than the packs before. She said this method really helped a lot, along with the way the program was presented.

“When you’re a smoker, you don’t want people to tell you to quit,” she said. “What they don’t understand is, it’s an addiction. The program, it’s not like saying you’re a failure if you don’t quit. There’s no guilt there because they’re there to support you. They give you the information, and they’re continuously telling you, ‘If for some reason you don’t make it, it’s OK. We’re here for you.’”

Each participant decides on their official quit date, and Jan. 21 was the day of truth for Rutherford. As instructed, she threw away all her cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. She said she tossed the grill lighter too, just to be safe.

Rutherford said the first three days were hard, but she’s not had much of a craving since then. She and her husband do something special every month to celebrate her being smoke free.

“I’m exercising more. My sense of smell is a lot stronger, taste of food is a lot better. I have more time to spend with the grandkids rather than wasting time smoking,” she said.

Plus, she’s saving a lot of money by not buying cigarettes. She discovered that she’d spent nearly $55,000 on her habit over 30 years.

You can reach lifestyles reporter Andrea Honaker at or 704-869-1840. Follow her on Twitter at and read her blog at

Want to quit?
For more information on CaroMont Health’s smoking cessation classes, call 704-671-7936.

Get social
On Thursday, CaroMont kicked off its two-week social media campaign, #NoSmokingNovember. Find “CaroMont Health” on Facebook to see posts about myths, statistics, expert advice and testimonials.

To view the full story on the The Gaston Gazette online, visit:

Celebrating 40 with a Mammogram

Brooke Boukather turned 40 this October and to celebrate her birthday this year, she’s getting a mammogram…and, her mom and sister are getting their annual screens at the same time!  CaroMont Health sat down with Brooke to ask her a few questions.

Q: Why is important for women to get their annual mammogram?

A: I just turned 40 in October, and experts encourage women at this age to have a baseline mammogram. Getting my first mammogram now can help detect changes early.

Q: Are you nervous about having your first mammogram?

A: I’m not nervous at all.  It’s nice to have this as an option.

Q: How do you feel about getting your first mammogram with your mom and sister there with you?

A: Getting my first mammogram with my mom and sister allows us to have fun with it and to make a great memory.  We’ll make it fun, for sure!

Q: What would you say to women who may be reluctant to get a mammogram?

A: We’ve seen such positive results following early detection within our family and our friends, why would we not want to get this done?  When a problem is detected early, you usually have better options regarding treatment, surgery and a better recovery.

Family history or not, it is so important for us to take care of ourselves in every aspect—nutrition, exercise, health and overall positive well-being. We all lead such busy lives. Having a day like this to come together, raise awareness and funds for local cancer patients, benefiting others, have a mammogram and have fun, it just makes you feel good. Besides, we [women] care for so many other people in our lives, and we must take care of ourselves to be able to care for others.

One Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story

Some people dedicate their lives to serving others, and Carolyn Niemeyer is precisely one of these individuals. If she’s not stocking shelves with food and picking up orders for the BackPack Weekend Food Program, she’s preparing a meal for a friend recently home from the hospital or attending another meeting for one of the many committees on which she resides. Her passion and love for people are what inspires her.

Last July, Carolyn Niemeyer, 71, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because breast cancer runs in her family, Carolyn routinely performed Breast Self Exams and never forgot to schedule annual mammograms, both of which ultimately helped save her life.

Genetic history, like age and gender, is a risk factor that cannot be changed. According to the American Cancer Society, women with close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease. A woman’s risk doubles if she has a first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer. If two first-degree relatives have been diagnosed, a women’s risk is five times higher than average.

Breast cancer traces back several generations in Carolyn’s family making her a candidate for genetic testing now provided at the CaroMont Cancer Center. Carolyn’s mother died at age 67 with breast cancer and her mother’s sisters were diagnosed with cancer—one with breast and the other with ovarian cancer; both sisters died in their 50s. In April 2013, Carolyn’s younger sister, 67 at the time, also was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When I received the diagnosis, I was scared and unsure about my future because of my family history,” said Carolyn. “It was very comforting to be able to meet with Dr. Charles Meakin to go over my radiation treatment plan. I was treated with dignity each day that I came for the radiation treatments at the CaroMont Cancer Center.  The staff was very concerned about my apprehension and offered advice each step of the way.”

Carolyn completed her treatments and is cancer free today. She will continue to receive annual mammograms and perform self breast exams, two important preventive measures she encourages all women to do to stay ahead of any possible sign of breast cancer.

“Had I waited, I might not have had the same outcome,” she said. “Early diagnosis is the key. I encourage women to be diligent in self breast exams and if you have any doubt, seek medical advice immediately.”

Carolyn says to be alive today is a “saving factor” due to the many progressive treatments that are available and early diagnosis as compared to many years ago.

“Each day I shower and look at my surgical scar, I am reminded of how fortunate I have been to have the surgeon who believed me when I told him I had changes in my breast,” said Carolyn. “I am so grateful to receive excellent treatment and care at CaroMont Cancer Center right here in Gastonia by outstanding physicians and medical professionals who took the time to guide me through this journey.

CaroMont Cancer Center provides a comprehensive continuum of care approach to the treatment of cancer. This includes prevention, early detection, education, treatment, follow up, symptom management and patient survivorship services.

“I have been wearing a pink ribbon every day [in October] as a reminder to others to be aware of the ongoing battle of breast cancer, but more importantly, that I am a survivor!”

CaroMont Avoids Medicare Penalty

Orr, Adam. (2014 October 24). Ahead of Curve. CaroMont Avoids Medicare Penalty. The Gaston Gazette

CaroMont Health has changed the way it treats and monitors patients over the past three years — changes the nonprofit’s leaders say will help avoid stiff federal Medicare fines in 2015.

CaroMont paid combined Medicare fines of more than $214,000 in 2013 and 2014. Those penalties come in the form of reduced Medicare reimbursements. But the health-care system will pay no such penalties in 2015 thanks to a decrease in the number of patients it readmitted in recent years.

Since 2012, Medicare, the federal senior insurance program, has punished hospitals that readmit high numbers of patients with certain conditions.

If those people are admitted into the hospital more than once in 30 days, the hospital gets paid less for the second stay and each one thereafter.

The fines focus on patients treated for chronic lung diseases, pneumonia, hip and knee replacements, heart attacks and heart failure.

The government’s goal?

The system is aimed at reducing the number of patients who return to hospitals after receiving treatment, a strategy Medicare hopes will improve the care patients receive and reduce costs for taxpayers.

Peggy Blackburn, CaroMont Health’s director of case management services, said an emphasis on reducing readmissions is an effective way to improve both areas.

What’s changing?

Blackburn said CaroMont has adjusted how medical professionals treat patients at CaroMont Regional. But the crucial difference, she says, includes more carefully tracking what happens to patients after they’ve been released from the hospital.

“Readmissions are about a lot of different factors,” Blackburn said. “It depends on how sick a patient is, what happens during their hospital visit, at discharge and after they leave the hospital.”

Major changes include:

1. A team of nurses — experts in disease management — who monitor high-risk patients for up to 30 days after they leave the hospital. Blackburn called this change crucial because patients are monitored for follow-up visits and some patients are even visited at home.

2. A team of CaroMont doctors examined why patients return to the hospital after receiving treatment. That same team then made changes in how patients are discharged.

3. Certain patients are followed after they’ve moved to a nursing home or skilled nursing setting, and hospital staff makes recommendations for further care.

4. CaroMont has also employed transitional care pharmacists to make sure discharged patients receive the proper medications.

Could CaroMont face penalties again in the future?

Yes. Blackburn said the steps CaroMont has taken are necessary, but the non-profit will have to monitor readmission rates for a growing number of illnesses and procedures, including COPD this year.

Next year the penalties will be based on readmissions for patients with coronary bypass surgery and strokes as well as all the previously monitored conditions.

“We’ll have to continue to evolve,” Blackburn said. “So we’re rolling out any improvements or best practices to include all patients — and not just ones that are subjected to penalty.”

How does CaroMont feel about the plan?

The local health-care system supports the government’s focus on reducing readmissions,says Alex Mullineaux, CaroMont’s director of public affairs. But he says social and economic factors affecting a hospital’s patients should be considered when determining which hospitals should be penalized for excessive admissions.

“Some hospitals like CaroMont Regional deal with tough conditions that are not being taken into account,” Mullineaux said. “Right now (Medicare) doesn’t look at overall socioeconomic conditions.”

Healing People

Leading the way in quality care, CaroMont Health believes in treating everyone with respect, having open and responsible communication, never compromising integrity, and highly values customer satisfaction. Patients can come to CaroMont Health with the utmost trust and confidence that our staff is hard at work pushing the edge of medical science and saving lives. In 2010, we achieved HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence. And our Cancer Center won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission.

Gaston Memorial Hospital

Magnet Award
Health Grades Award
CareChex a rating service of The Delta Group

Building Community

We believe that a community’s wellbeing is dependent on everyone contributing and that together we can help our community thrive. By offering special events, sponsoring athletic competitions and attracting great speakers like Dr. Oz, CaroMont Health is creating shared community experiences. CaroMont Health has also developed CaroMontUrgent Care in the Mountain Island lake community, which will save you time without sacrificing the quality of non-emergency care.

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CaroMont Health has created support and educational services in a safe, family-centered environment to promote healthy lifestyle choices. By providing a variety of classes focused on topics for men, women, the elderly, newborns and more, CaroMont Health hopes to empower individuals to make a difference. Some classes offered for expectant and new parents for example, enhance the experiences involved in birth and beyond – such as Second Time Around, Moms in Motion, and Infant CPR and Safety.

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