CaroMont offering help to get healthy

CaroMont Health officials say it’s time to get active.

A community field day and festival in May will combine fun and fitness.

Running, walking and biking are on tap for the inaugural CaroMont Community Challenge.

Unaccustomed to strenuous physical activity? Need inspiration?

Join a free program with personal trainers every Saturday leading up to the event.

Preparation time is designed to make couch potatoes into 5K runners — or at least people who can walk a mile.

CaroMont Health offers the running and walking training programs.

On Saturday mornings, anyone seeking help can meet trainers at Martha Rivers Park in Gastonia.

“We’ve had a few folks come out. We’d like to get more,” said Alex Mullineaux, director of public affairs with CaroMont.It does not matter if you’ve never exercised before. We have personal trainers there. They can help you start a walking program.”

Gaston County residents are among the least healthy in the state, placing 79th in the latestCounty Health Rankings and Roadmaps project.

The county has improved since last year, moving up two spots. But it’s still nothing to brag about, say health authorities.

“Out of 100 counties, that’s not where we want to be,” Mullineaux said. “What we want… is to inspire our community to be healthier.”

Games, activities and live entertainment are also scheduled for the CaroMont Community Challenge, along with gym and food vendors.

Proceeds will be donated to Gaston County Schools’ robotics program. The initiative teaches science, technology and math skills.

Mullineaux said Gastonia East Rotary will match the donation, up to $15,000.

Ready to start training?

What: CaroMont’s “Couch to 5K” running and walking program

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturdays through May 10

Where: Martha Rivers Park, 1515 Neal Hawkins Road, Gastonia

Cost: Free

And the main event:

What: CaroMont Community Challenge

When: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Saturday, May 17

Where: Football field at Forestview High School, 5545 Union Road, Gastonia

For more:


Bike rides of 39 and 50 miles start at Forestview High School at 7:30 a.m.

Registration fees:

$25 per person (before April 15)

$ 30 per person (between April 15 and May 16)

$35 per person (day of event)


A timed 5K run begins at 9 a.m.

Registration fees:

$25 per person, or $75 for family of four or more (before April 15)

$25 per person, or $80 for family (between April 15 and May 16)

$30 per person (day of event)


1-mile fun walk begins at 10 a.m.

Cost: Free

Stay on the Move at the Office

Source: A. Honaker (2014, April 14). The Gaston Gazette.

Do you sit at your office desk for hours on end? If so, it’s time to stand up and get moving. Debbie Bellenger, director of CaroMont Health’s Wellness Program, said that today’s corporate America can translate to sitting 12 to 14 hours a day for some jobs, rather than the standard eight-hour shift.

“We’re all trying to do more with less. I think a lot of us are sitting more,” she said. “We’re trying to fit more in, so we just do, do, do, and we don’t stand up and stretch because we’re just trying to get it all done.”
The new smoking
Staying in these seated positions can have detrimental long-term effects. In fact, sitting has been called “the new smoking,” Bellenger said. The hearts of people who smoke or are overweight have to work harder, which means a shorter life span.

Being stationary can cause weight gain and joint pain, put stress on the back and lumbar spine area, and slow the circulatory system and metabolism. It can also lead to metabolic syndrome, when a person has a cluster of metabolism-related health conditions that can increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes.

“Essentially, our bodies are machines. We’re designed to move. Sitting doesn’t get us to a place of health,” Bellenger said. “The more we move, the healthier the whole body is. Sitting is the opposite of what we really need our bodies to be doing.”

Fit breaks
Research shows that people should stand up for at least three minutes for every 60 minutes they sit, Bellenger said.

CaroMont Health has developed 15-minute “fit breaks” for its workers. Wellness Program staff members teach employees simple exercises and stretches, and then they can lead others in breaks at fit stations throughout the hospital. Some of the sessions are during specific times, while others are impromptu.

“The more (activity) we can fit in the workplace, the healthier all of us can be together,” Bellenger said.

Wellness staff members are also available to teach community members how to do fit breaks. For example, Holy Angels turned to CaroMont to help them institute fit breaks and develop a yearlong wellness program for employees.

Get moving
Bellenger offered these tips for moving more throughout the workday:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Bring your tennis shoes and take walk breaks.
  • Instead of sitting around a table for meetings, host walk-and-talk meetings or stand-up meetings.
  • If you need to get in touch with someone, walk to his or her office rather than calling or emailing.
  • Make meetings shorter. Turn one-hour meetings into 50 minutes, or 30-minute sessions into 20. Any meeting that’s two hours or more should include stretch breaks.
  • Commit to get up and walk around at least once an hour.

Desk exercises

Here are some “simple but effective” desk exercises that Bellenger recommended:

  • Stretch at your desk or do chair yoga. One good smartphone app for chair exercises is called “Chair Yoga.”
  • Sit on the edge of your chair and fold your body forward to release your back.
  • Sit up straight, reach around your chair and rotate your body to each side.
  • While sitting, lift one leg at a time for hamstring stretches.
  • Sit at the edge of your chair, put your arms at your sides and lift yourself up.

Fit Approach/SweatGuru owner and personal trainer Jamie Walker offered these additional tips:

  • Replace your work chair with a stability ball to improve your posture and work out your core.
  • Stand up and do pushups off the edge of your desk.
  • Stand up, hold your arms straight out and circle your arms clockwise and counterclockwise.

Want to start fit breaks at your workplace?

Call Holly Powell, CaroMont community wellness coordinator, at 704-834-3408.


Todd Davis, MD Named “100 Hospital and Health System CMOs to Know”

Todd Davis, MD, VP of Patient Safety, Quality & Medical Affairs Officer, was recently named “100 Hospital and Health System CMOs to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review. The list is based on individuals’ experience in overseeing medical and quality affairs in their respective organizations.

The CMOs, CMIOs, physicians-in-chief and other CMO-equivalent titles selected for the list have demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement in safety and quality and have contributed to excellence at their respective institutions. To read the article, please click here:

About Todd Davis, MD

With active privileges as a critical care anesthesiologist since 1998, Dr. Davis was chosen to serve as Vice President of Medical Affairs in August of 2010. He was given the additional responsibilities of Quality and Patient Safety Officer in January 2012.

Dr. Davis participates with the Board, senior leadership, Medical Staff and in clinical areas in communicating, planning, promoting and conducting organization-wide activities and initiatives. He previously served as Chief-of-Staff for CaroMont Regional Medical Center and on the Executive Committee of the CaroMont Health Board of Directors.

Dr. Davis received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond; attended the Medical College of Virginia, and performed his residency, internship and fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Davis is currently enrolled in a Medical Management program through Carnegie Mellon University to further support his role within the organization and to build upon his leadership skills, strategy and management of information.

Dr. Davis is certified with the American Board of Anesthesiology and holds Critical Care Medicine certification.

He currently Chairs the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas Board and sits on HealthNet Gaston Board. In addition, he has volunteered for multiple medical missions to Africa.

How to Grow a Cancer-Fighting Garden

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), no single food or food combination can protect against cancer by itself. However, strong evidence shows a diet filled with a variety of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower the risk of many cancers.

Fiber in any form decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Dietary fiber is found in a variety of plants including:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and bok choy.
  • Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.
  • Beans: Black beans, navy beans and pinto beans.
  • Garlic: Garlic can boost immunity and help cells break down cancer-causing substances.
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed is the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Whole grains: Whole grain breads, pasta and steel-cut oatmeal.

Cancer-Fighting Foods

Foods to Help Fight Cancer

Your daily intake of food has a profound effect on your overall health. Evidence suggests that some foods can help protect you against cancer. Understanding how you can modify your diet and food choices to help lower your risk is important. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Eat natural foods: what it looks like when it comes out of the ground or off a tree or vine.
  • Stick to unprocessed food: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains and beans (legumes).
  • Avoid processed foods high in trans-fats such as chips and sweets.
  • Go easy on red and processed meat.
  • Regular consumption has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
  • Choose healthy fats such as salmon, flaxseeds, avocados, olive oil, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds.

How women in leadership see their roles

Joy La Prade, (2014, March 22). The Gaston Gazette

When Pat Skinner became president of Gaston College in 1994, she was the only woman serving as a community college president in North Carolina. Today, she is one of nearly 20 women holding the community college post in the Tar Heel state, a fact that mirrors the overall growth in women joining the workforce across the country. Women accounted for less than half of the workforce in 1970, but today represent nearly 50 percent, and are projected to make up 57 percent of the labor force before another decade passes. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With the growing number of women across all career fields, they are also increasingly ending up in leadership positions. For Women’s History Month in March, The Gazette asked local women in leadership positions for their perspectives on what it means to be a woman and a leader. While they agree women have unique talents and abilities for leadership, they all emphasized that the basic ingredients for successful leadership are the same for everyone, male or female: respect and concern for others, hard work and commitment.

Balancing home, work

In her career leading to her role at Gaston College, Skinner was able to observe the shift of women into the workforce and higher education. She returned to school when her daughter was 4 months old. Skinner was the only mother in her class at Ohio State University. At the time, she recalls, there were few options for child care compared to what’s available today, and most women who worked outside the home still did the majority of the work inside the home as well.

“I like to think that some of us have paved the way … encouraging support within organizations for women and men; women having the kinds of leave they have now,” she said. Still, the balance between career and life at home can be a challenge for women to navigate. Maria Long, executive vice president and chief legal officer with CaroMont Health, said many women in the legal profession lean toward in-house positions rather than outside counsel because the hours allow them to maintain a balance between home and the office. “Family and work are important parts of my life. When I moved to in-house counsel, I did so because it would allow me to fulfill my role as a mother and still have a rewarding career. Finding balance between the two is something I think is imperative to being successful,” Long said.

Room for all

Janet Sarn, market president and business banking manager with Wells Fargo in Gastonia, has also observed a shift in women’s roles in the banking world. When she started her career she was one of very few women on the “wholesale,” or business, side of the bank, working directly with and lending to local businesses. “That has changed quite a bit,” she said.

Sarn said she doesn’t believe that skills in leadership are gender-specific, but that each individual makes a difference through his or her unique abilities. “The reasons people choose banks are for the people who work there. People are a tremendous asset. The whole workplace has become more diverse … If you’re going to do business, you need to have representatives from different areas of the general population,” she said, including both men and women.

Different approaches

“I think women measure success differently than men, though there are a lot of similarities,” said Natalie Tindol, owner of Tindol Ford in Gastonia. “It seems like in my case, my definition of success is a lot more intangible than it is tangible.”

Success for her, she explained, is more about having “enough” than “everything,” and being able to build relationships, take care of the community and give back. This comes from her father, who founded the business 40 years ago and taught her “if you take care of your people, the numbers will come,” she said.

“I would agree that women have a little better tendency to build relationships, and I feel like that’s been one of the reasons our business has been successful. We’re a very relationship-oriented business: our employees, our customers and our community,” Tindol said.

Long, of CaroMont, agrees that men and women bring different perspectives to the job.

“Women tend to take a more collaborative approach and often focus on talking through a topic or issue. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more action-oriented. They are driving toward goals and completing tasks in order to get to the next step,” she said. “In an effort to encourage equality in the work place, we often try to pretend those differences don’t exist.

“However, success requires that we understand and respect social norms and cues that are inherently present, without placing value judgments that one approach or perspective is better than the other. We do all professionals a disservice by dismissing these differences. We should embrace them and allow them to work in our favor.”

Skinner, at Gaston College, said she prefers a collaborative approach to leadership that involves others in the decision-making process. She said management styles were different when she began her career.

“Back in the early days, the style for male presidents was really more top-down, more dictatorial. It was just a management style of that era as well,” she said. “I think things have changed. I see more men being collaborative as well. People like to be part of the team; like to be part of the decision-making.”


For leaders to come …

The four women also offer this advice to other aspiring leaders.

“A good education is always a good foundation,” Sarn said.

Long said it is important to embrace the duty of your position and to value relationships.

“I firmly believe that you must serve your position instead of serving yourself, and that people are most successful when they operate this way,” she said.

Skinner said all leaders must learn how to prioritize, multi-task and delegate.

“These jobs are really challenging. This is not really a job. It’s a lifestyle. It has to be something you love to do. For me, it’s a difference I can make in the students’ lives,” she said.

“Whether you’re a male or female, if you’re focused on other people and meeting their wants or needs or desires, then I think you’re going to have a measure of success,” Tindol said.

“I think that, just like anything else, women and men complement each other in the business world and in relationships,” Tindol added. “I think together the complement is the best way to go. We both have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s good to balance each other.”

CaroMont Offers Automated Breast Ultrasound

New Technology to Aid Cancer Screening in Women with Dense Breast Tissue

CaroMont Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the North and South Carolina area to offer Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS), the only breast cancer screening technology specifically developed and FDA approved for women with dense breast tissue. ABUS helps doctors find cancers hidden in dense breast tissue, which may be missed by mammography.  In partnership with Gaston Radiology, CaroMont began screening woman with this technology last week.

“CaroMont is proud to be the first to offer this potentially lifesaving screening, and our work with Gaston Radiology is an excellent example of how partnership with the medical community can have a very positive impact on patient care,” said Kathleen Besson, Chief Operating Officer at CaroMont Health. “Offering innovative technology is a cornerstone of great health care, and ABUS is, without a doubt, going to help many women in our community.”

So, why is ABUS important?  More than 40% of women have dense breast tissue, and many may not know. North Carolina is one of 12 states in the U.S. to require health care facilities to share information regarding the patient’s individual breast density classification directly with the patient. This is based on the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology (BI-RADS®). The law, which became active on January 1, 2014, requires that every woman who has a mammogram be informed of her breast density. Previously, breast density information was only reported as part of the mammogram interpretation that was sent to the patient’s physician.

As required by the new law, women who have dense breast tissue will also receive the following statement in writing as part of their mammogram result: “Your mammogram indicates that you may have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is relatively common and is found in more than forty percent (40%) of women. The presence of dense tissue may make it more difficult to detect abnormalities in the breast and may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We are providing this information to raise your awareness of this important factor and to encourage you to talk with your physician about this and other breast cancer risk factors. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you. A report of your results was sent to your physician.”

“Dense tissue can make it difficult or even impossible to find cancer on a mammogram, and ABUS can find cancers in dense breast tissue that could be missed on a mammogram,” said Christopher W. Saltmarsh, MD, Radiologist at Gaston Radiology.  “In fact, ABUS can come close to doubling the breast cancer detection rate for women with dense tissue. This will allow us to find small, curable cancers that would have been missed with mammography alone.”

As mentioned, CaroMont will be the first hospital in the area to offer this technology to women who will benefit from this kind of screening and image interpretation will be provided by Gaston Radiology.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this new service to the women of Gaston county and surrounding areas,” said Stephen J. Lostetter, MD, President of Gaston Radiology. “CaroMont Health has always provided the Radiologists at Gaston Radiology with the most advanced, cutting-edge technology to help in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. This is another example of our strong partnership advancing health care in our community.”

Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. Unlike mammography, which uses radiation, ABUS Screening uses sound waves to create 3D pictures of the breast tissue. If a woman is identified as having dense breast tissue, ABUS screening along with a screening mammogram will help provide a more accurate evaluation of breast health.

The full screening process takes less than 15 minutes and provides state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound images. The patient’s physician will then review the ABUS images along with the mammogram to provide guidance on additional testing or treatment.

To learn more about Automated Breast Ultrasound, speak with your doctor or call 704.834.2474.

One Man’s Life-Saving Prescription

Ralph Cline remembers 2012 as a significant year. It was the year that one of his daughters was married. It was the year his first grandchild was born. It was the year he lost his father to cancer. And, it was a year that seemed to fly past as he dealt with his responsibilities at work as a pharmacist. With so much happening, Ralph continued to put off getting his colonoscopy. Being 54 at the time, Ralph was four years beyond the recommended age to get screened for colorectal cancer, so he thought, “What difference would a few more months make?”

Current screening guidelines strongly suggest that all men and women should have regular screening for colorectal cancer from the age of 50 until the age of 75. Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, begins either in the colon or rectum. It’s the third most common cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S. However, routine screening among symptom-free individuals can lower the risk for developing colon cancer. Early detection is the key to addressing cancer when it is highly treatable.

“My primary care physician asked at my yearly physical to have a colonoscopy, and I agreed it was time to have my first one,” said Ralph. “I felt putting the colonoscopy off for a few years would not make a difference since I had no issues.”

In April 2013, Ralph finally made a colonoscopy appointment. After the procedure was over, Ralph waited to hear the results. When the doctor stepped into the exam room, he told Ralph that he had found four lesions, three of which he was able to remove. However, a biopsy on the larger lesion showed precancerous cells, meaning it could eventually turn into cancer and would need surgery to remove it.

That May, Ralph underwent a Laparoscopic Colectomy to remove the polyp and roughly two feet of his intestines, an aggressive approach taken to avoid the need for a second surgery. Following the surgery, a second biopsy of the polyp revealed cancerous cells, and Ralph was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

In late June, Ralph started a six-month chemotherapy process at CaroMont Cancer Center. Ralph continued to work through his chemo treatments, only missing work on the day of his infusion. He doesn’t recall experiencing any residual effect from the chemo, which he attributes to staying hydrated and eating small meals throughout the day to avoid nausea. With his pharmacy background, he says he knew what to expect from a technical perspective, though people respond differently to treatment. In December, Ralph successfully completed his cancer therapy.

“I feel great,” said Ralph. “I felt great before, but I found out that feeling great does not always reveal what may be happening inside your body.”

Individuals who are at higher risk for the disease, such as those with a family history of colorectal cancer, should be screened from the age of 40 or at 10 years before the age their family member was at diagnosis, whichever is earlier. So, Ralph’s daughter decided to get screened, too, and both of Ralph’s brothers decided to have a colonoscopy as an added precaution.

“I’m now a big advocate for early screening,” said Ralph. “Go get your colonoscopy done. If you can catch it before it spreads, it makes a big difference.”

If you are 50 years of age or older, it’s time to get screened. Talk to your primary care doctor today to schedule your colonoscopy at one of CaroMont’s convenient endoscopy locations in Gastonia or Belmont.

Eating Healthy for Your Heart

Provided by: Jim L. Arter, MD, Cardiologist at CaroMont Heart

Click here to read the full article in The Gaston Gazette: Sodium, diet, exercise play important roles in the health of this vital organ

The average American eats about 3400mg of sodium, well above the 2300mg recommended amount. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, are African American, or are over age 50, you should only intake 1500mg. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases, like heart attacks.

Most sodium we eat (>75%) comes from processed foods purchased from the grocery store and restaurants, not from cooking (5%) or salt added to food (6%). Sodium levels in food at popular chain restaurants in the U.S. can have 2-3 times the sodium compared to other countries.
Here are some tips to help you make the right choices when eating out:

  • Ask for low sodium alternatives or “no salt” dishes when eating out. Many restaurants can provide alternatives.
  • Familiarize yourself with high sodium offenders such as, fried foods, most soups and salad dressings and processed meats (ham, sausage, hot dogs, and bacon). Avoid sauces and marinades and condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce and relish.
  • Ask your server for sodium content in menu items. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to provide calorie labeling on menus and additional nutrition information, including sodium content upon request.
  •  If a food contains over 10 percent of your daily allowance of sodium, you may be eating a “higher sodium” food.
  • Read labels on your foods. Sodium can creep into foods that you don’t typically think of. A slice of white bread typically has more than 200mg of sodium (nearly 500mg for two slices). Many flavored waters contain sodium. A cup of ready-made cereal can have 250mg of sodium or more.

Email a Patient

Introducing a free service to send a personalized message to a patient at CaroMont Regional Medical Center.  Click here for more information.

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 CLiC Immediate Care Center 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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