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Family Connects Novant Health program receives $125,000 grant from Hearst Foundations

Funding supports nurse home visits for Forsyth and Davidson County families and newborns

The Hearst Foundations recently awarded a $125,000 grant to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation to support Family Connects, a post-partum nurse home visit program in Forsyth and Davidson counties. The program provides free home visit services to all Forsyth County and Davidson County mothers and newborns who deliver at Forsyth Medical Center or Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center. Since 2016, the program has provided support for thousands of mothers and babies and connected families to nurturing community resources.

“Partnership with the Hearst Foundations will result in higher quality post-partum medical care, more positive parenting, reduced anxiety for families and less infant emergency medical care,” said Ann Caulkins, senior vice president of Novant Health and president of Novant Health Foundations. “We are grateful for the Hearst Foundations’ commitment to Forsyth and Davidson County families, and to a great start in life for newborns.”

“The Hearst Foundations are deeply committed to a safe, healthy start for children and their families, especially those who may not have access to the resources or services they need to thrive,” George Irish, Hearst Foundations’ Eastern Director, said. “We are pleased to partner with Novant Health to ensure the very best care for babies and their families from the earliest days of a child’s life.”

The program provides participating mothers of new infants with a home visit by a registered nurse (RN). During the visit, the RN completes a comprehensive assessment that examines health care, home safety, infant care and parenting. The health care assessment includes infant weight gain and age-appropriate feeding expectations. Safe home goals cover crib safety and environmental concerns. Infant care includes strategies for breastfeeding and management of infant crying. The parenting assessment evaluates emotional, practical and social parenting support. The RN provides referrals to partner support agencies as circumstances warrant, schedules office appointments with pediatricians or obstetricians, and schedules follow-up home visits or phone calls.

For more information about the program, visit NovantHealth.org/FamilyConnects.

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A lifelong advocate for health

New cancer survivorship fund honors Rick Parker

For 39 years, Rick Parker has dedicated his career to improving healthcare for others and connecting generous donors to Novant Health’s mission to deliver remarkable care throughout the communities it serves. When he retires at the end of 2020 from his role as executive director of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation, he will conclude a career that began entirely by accident. Literally.

When Parker was a sophomore in college, he was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered a compound fracture in his leg. He was hospitalized for six weeks in two facilities, where doctors put him in traction. Eighteen months passed before he was able to walk again.

Through that experience, Parker came to understand and value the importance of quality healthcare. With his newly gained perspective, he started his professional journey, and it’s a move he never regretted.

“The healthcare industry is one of the most cognitively stimulating industries in the world,” Parker said. “It’s just a fascinating business. I truly woke up every day — and I still do — excited about coming to work because there’s just so many different opportunities to keep you motivated, both intellectually and emotionally.”

Parker joined Rowan Memorial Hospital in 1981 to launch a patient advocacy program. Over the next several decades, he adapted to various roles and responsibilities to keep up with the changing times. He worked with professional and support services, such as imaging, pharmacy, laboratory, environmental, dietary, discharge planning just to name a few among many other functions of the hospital.

“I just kept taking on additional duties — sometimes responsibilities other people did not want to deal with,” Parker said.

In 2013, Rowan Medical Center Foundation needed a new executive director, and Parker was ready for the challenge. The role provided him with an opportunity he’d always wanted: to help the community in a focused way. He was nervous about fundraising early on, but it came naturally to him.

“I started my careergoing down the road of, ‘How can I help the community have better healthcare?’” Parker said. “So, I never felt like I was really asking anybody for any money. I was just asking people if they wanted to participate in something that would be a game changer.”

Throughout his tenure, Parker helped Novant Health raise money for the first residential hospice facility in Rowan County and for 3D mammography technology to improve breast health services. One shining example of Parker’s work has been the Novant Health Wallace Cancer Institute, which opened in 2020. The facility brings research, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation together under one roof, easing some of the stressors oncology patients and their families endure. Parker said he is happy to retire having helped bring such a valuable resource to the community. The way the project came together was just, as he puts it, “magical.”

“I’ve done a lot of projects over the years, and this one had no flaws whatsoever,” Parker said. “When we started construction, it did not rain for five months. Normally when you start construction, it feels like a rainy season begins, and you get behind. We did not get behind on this project. In fact, we built a 32,000-square-foot facility and opened it in 12 and a half months. It’s just unheard of.”

For Parker, the philanthropic role has led him to partner with people who already had a passion for healthcare and simply needed his guidance on how to impact the community. He remembers receiving an unexpected donation of $500,000. It was a moment that took his breath away.

“I was shocked,” Parker said. “I raised the roof after I hung up the phone that day.”

Today, Novant Health Foundation has a surprise of its own: the launch of a new Cancer Survivor Fund to honor Parker. Because fighting cancer often creates financial strains for patients and families, the Cancer Survivor Fund will provide financial assistance to cancer patients receiving care at the Wallace Cancer Institute. The fund will help these community members cover the cost of necessities such as housing, utilities, transportation and nutritional supplements.

As Parker reflects on his time with Novant Health, he is grateful for the opportunity to serve his team members and the community.

“I’m forever grateful to Novant health,” Parker said. “I’ve really enjoyed becoming part of this remarkable healthcare team.”

As far as what is next, Parker is looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren and enjoying outdoor adventures. He recently inherited his father’s Harley Davidson motorcycle, and he has begun to enjoy the open roads again.

“I always thought, if I got to the end of my life and I was asked, ‘Were you able to help one person and expect nothing in return?’ would I be able to answer that question?” Parker said. “I can answer ‘yes’ now.”

You now have an opportunity to help those in need and honor Rick Parker and his legacy of impact in his community Through a donation to the Cancer Survivor Fund, you can help survivors and families enjoy life again, free from cancer and financial stress. Make your gift today.

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The first ‘Family Room’ in Charlotte

A unique partnership with the Ronald McDonald House is bringing one family’s vision to life

Early next year, the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte will open its first “Family Room” within the walls of Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital.

It’s an amenity that is coming to life thanks to a unique collaboration between the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and the Comly family, who lost their daughter, Caroline, after a five-day fight in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Hemby Children’s Hospital.

“The Comly family wanted to find a way to support families who were going through what they went through,” said Denise Cubbedge, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. “They also wanted a way to memorialize Caroline in a very special way. The team at Hemby recognized this might be an opportunity for the family to collaborate with Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte to create this shared space. Now as a team, we are working to bring life to the space. It won’t just be a brick-and-mortar room; it will become an experience people have when they walk in the door.”

The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte opened its doors to families in 2011. Since then, the organization has served over 4,500 families whose children are receiving care and treatment at nearby hospitals. Those families come to the House looking for a place to rest, recharge and connect with other families going through the same experience. The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is one of 186 such facilities across the United States and more than 340 around the world. It’s a name that families know and a place they can trust.

The Family Room concept was designed to serve as an extension of the Ronald McDonald House, bringing the same services and support families have come to rely on at the nonprofit’s dedicated houses within the walls of medical facilities. Its goal is to serve those families who may not need a place to stay overnight but still need support, Cubbedge said.

“We can still love on those families and give them something more than just a physical space to escape to,” she said. “We have volunteers and programming that families can access so they can take better care of themselves and, in turn, take better care of their children. And they don’t have to leave the hospital. They can be right there, right down the hall.”

That was important to John and Ginny Comly, who rarely left their daughter’s side during their five days in the PICU at Hemby Children’s Hospital. A few of the nurses let them sneak showers in rooms that were recently vacated. Friends and family brought food and changes of clothes. But they needed a place where they could go to rest, even briefly. They needed somewhere they could find care, comfort and hope.

When Caroline passed away, they decided to build that place to provide families with everything they need while their children are fighting for their lives. When it opens early in 2021, it will be called The Ronald McDonald Family Room at Caroline’s Corner. Its mission is to provide care, comfort and hope.

“That’s what we view as the ultimate goal because having a child in the PICU is a life experience where there is little, if any, comfort and hope,” John said. “When Caroline died, it became more of a mission that we wanted to do this and to do it in her name. And this can hopefully be part of a number of legacies that she’s able to leave even though she’s not with us.”

Cubbedge strives to be a responsible steward of that legacy. She’s met the Comly family. She’s watched Ginny go through the training program to become a Ronald McDonald House volunteer. And she’s worked to bring their vision to life with the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Caroline’s Corner.

“The emotions are so deep with the loss of a child. Unfortunately, we see that here at the Ronald McDonald House, and it’s a hard thing for a family to experience. You always want to do so much for these families, and you feel like no word will be good enough, no action will be great enough to make them feel better,” Cubbedge said. “The Comlys have lived it, and they want to make that experience a little easier. I consider it an honor to be able to be a part of this very special space they’re creating to remember Caroline.”

For Cubbedge, the partnership also represents an opportunity for collaboration between two institutions who value “remarkable care” above all else.

“That’s a cornerstone of what we are about — providing the absolute best quality of care for the families that we impact. We have done that incredibly well over the last 10 years within the walls of our house, so we are truly excited to take the integrity of our mission and what we do here and see that in a setting with our healthcare partner, who also has such a high standard of taking care of families and patients,” Cubbedge said. “We want to be the best at that, and we want to partner with others who are the best at that.”

Jennifer Clifford, chief development officer at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, agreed this partnership will play a major role in the overall success of the Family Room, bringing programming and volunteers into the space to provide added support.

“Novant Health Foundation is excited to have a home away from home within Hemby Children’s Hospital for families to feel as comfortable as possible while being only a few feet away from their child,” Clifford said. “The ability for families to connect as they embark on these situations is vital, developing friendships and support systems that will last a lifetime.”

You can make a difference in the lives of patients and families by making a gift to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation. Your contributions make remarkable care possible. Do your part and give today.

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Agnes Weisiger gets it done

The same work ethic that defined her nursing career now drives her philanthropic commitment to Novant Health

During her 40-year career as a nurse, Agnes Weisiger was known for her willingness to do what had to be done, no matter what.

After attending Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Weisiger graduated from Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in 1963 and worked in the intensive care and coronary care units at what is now Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. In the hopes of leaving the night shift in favor of the 9-to-5, she soon joined a local medical practice.

But Weisiger couldn’t stay away. She’d work her eight hours at the medical office and then head to the hospital. The hospital needed someone able to read EKGs and take care of patients. Weisiger had taught herself to do both, and she wanted to help.

Weisiger went back to school and attended UNC Chapel Hill as a member of the third class of the family nurse practitioner (NP) program, graduating in 1973. Then, she attended UNC Charlotte to earn her B.S. in nursing. For several years, she was the only NP in Charlotte and became the defacto lobbyist for the profession, teaching the medical community that NPs were an asset, not a threat.

Her efforts resulted in greater acceptance of NPs across the healthcare community, giving more patients access to the care they deserved. At one point, she was working with 19 nursing homes in the Charlotte area, providing care in between doctors’ visits, in addition to her regular job.

“Throughout my career, I was the catchall — ultrasounds and Holter monitors, among other things, and seeing patients,” Weisiger said. “Whatever the need, you just get it done.”

That philosophy has carried into all aspects of Weisiger’s life: Wherever she sees a need, she does whatever she can to help.

Although she is now retired, she still looks for opportunities to make an impact in Charlotte’s healthcare community — and then works diligently to bring those ideas to life. Her work to fund the new Novant Health Agnes B. and Edward I. Weisiger Cancer Institute is a perfect case in point. In 2017, she and her husband, Ed, made a multimillion-dollar contribution to fund the creation of the institute, which will share space with the new Novant Health Claudia W. and John M. Belk Heart & Vascular Institute to provide patients with comprehensive, leading-edge care in one state-of-the-art facility. The building opened in October 2020.

“I want this to be a place where patients can find hope — hope for a clear future,” Weisiger said. “When people are diagnosed with cancer, there’s an overwhelming sense of panic and fear. I know because I’ve been there. My husband has been there. My hope is this place will bring a sense of calm where patients will instantly feel they’ve come to a place where they can get the best possible care and get on their way back to health, as soon as possible.” 

Weisiger’s first encounter with cancer was through her work with Presbyterian Medical Center.

“Back in the mid-1960s, I gave chemotherapy to cancer patients. At the time, we had no gloves, no hood, no eye goggles,” she said. “I was extremely involved with patients with cancer.”

Then, cancer became personal. In 1989, at the age of 58, her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The couple sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and it worked. Ed has been cancer free ever since.

In 2011, Weisiger began her own journey with cancer. She found a lump and was soon diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. She received a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy at Presbyterian Medical Center, and once again, the treatment worked.

“I went in for my mammogram, and it was positive. The next day, a biopsy was performed. The day after that, I saw a surgeon. The process was click, click, click and very efficient,” Weisiger said. “That’s what you want when you hear the word ‘cancer.’ You want to get on the path to getting better as soon as possible. And yet so many in our community don’t even have access to the first stage of the process.”

To that end, Weisiger has taken special interest in increasing access to mammograms. In 2011, she and her husband helped fund the first mobile mammography unit at Presbyterian Medical Center, a 38-foot multifunctional coach that offers digital mammography screenings throughout the community. In 2016, they also funded a second mobile mammography unit offering digital screenings. 

“There are many people who can’t get to appointments due to work or family obligations. This unit makes the process easier for them,” she said.

Then, if their screening results in a diagnosis, they can receive treatment at the new Weisiger Cancer Institute, which brings the full suite of cancer services together under one roof, streamlining the treatment process while continuing to deliver remarkable care.

While Weisiger has a clear vision for the new Cancer Institute, she also maintains a profound appreciation for the people who are bringing that vision to life — the people who, like herself, are committed to doing what needs to be done. Recently, she reached out to the construction manager for the Cancer Institute project and invited him and his team to her 1,700-acre pine tree farm in Lancaster, South Carolina, for some fishing, hiking, sporting clays and a change of scenery to thank them for their hard work in making this institute possible.

“I worked all my life, and I appreciate people who take pride in what they do,” Weisiger said. “I can tell you, this construction team is doing a great job. There are so many people involved in a project the size and scope of the new cancer center, and it’s important to recognize that and ensure we do everything we can to thank those who have done their part. Inviting this team out for a day at the farm was the least I could do.”

At Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation, we are profoundly grateful for the generosity of donors like Agnes Weisiger, whose commitment to our work has made so much possible.

You can do your part, too, with a gift to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation. As a nonprofit health system, we rely on our community to support the remarkable care we provide. We hope you’ll join Agnes and give today.

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‘You are a statistic of one’

Sherry Pollex on her cancer battle and her commitment to increasing access to integrative medicine

Sherry Pollex was healthy — or so she thought.

She exercised and ate well. She was young and active. Her only bouts of illness were the occasional cold or sore throat. In fact, if she ever thought about something as life-threatening as cancer, it was in her work to fight the disease among its youngest victims.

Pollex and her longtime partner, NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr., co-founded the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 to help in the fight against childhood cancers. Their annual fundraiser, Catwalk for a Cause, puts the spotlight on young cancer survivors and has raised millions to fight the disease. Over the years, their focus hasn’t wavered, but it did expand when Pollex got a diagnosis of her own.

“I was not feeling well for probably about four months and had seen my general practitioner. She referred me to a GI doctor, and that doctor referred me to an ob-gyn and then back to a GI doctor. I was in the patient pinball process for three months or so of doctors saying it was IBS or celiac disease or ovarian cysts. And the pain just kept getting worse,” Pollex said.

After she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, stage 3C, in August of 2014, she was referred to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center for surgery and treatment.

“It was really scary. Not only was I a 35-year-old woman who was perfectly healthy, but I had never known anyone who had ovarian cancer. And anytime you ask Dr. Google a question about a disease that doesn’t have a good survival rate, you’re down a rabbit hole of asking, ‘What if that’s me?’” Pollex said. “But it wasn’t long before I got to a place where I realized I needed to listen to my doctors and start researching this disease. I started to get into integrative medicine and told myself, ‘You are a statistic of one. There are outliers who beat the odds, and there’s no reason you can’t be that person.’”

One of those doctors was Matt McDonald, MD.

“When I walked in the room and met him, I knew that he was going to be my doctor because he treated me like his daughter,” Pollex said. “I told him I knew my survival rate wasn’t good, and he said, ‘I will never tell you how long you’ll be on this Earth because I am not your God.’”

She also met specialists in integrative medicine, including Russell Greenfield, MD, who encouraged her to look beyond surgery and chemotherapy at ways to enhance her health as a whole.

So, while she went through a rigorous treatment process that included an eight-hour debulking surgery to remove the tumors in her body, a radical hysterectomy and an appendectomy, followed by six rounds of intensive IV and inpatient chemotherapy, she incorporated many integrative practices along the way to mitigate her side effects.

Her specialists, those at Novant Health and others outside the hospital, put together a program that included acupuncture, yoga and meditation. She changed her diet and incorporated medicinal mushrooms and Chinese herbs.

“The more I ate right and juiced and the more I worked out and did these things, the better I felt. When that starts to happen, you become an integrative medicine lover for the rest of your life,” she said.

Pollex went into remission, but a year and three months later, her cancer came back. This time it was in her spleen and on the outside of her liver. She had a liver resection and a splenectomy and then began six rounds of IV chemotherapy. Eight weeks after finishing treatment, she began an oral PARP inhibitor that she’s been taking since 2017.

“I’ve done extremely well on it. I feel so blessed to be able to live a normal life, and I still do all my integrative treatments,” Pollex said. “I’m very careful about what I put in my body and what’s in my house and my environment. No sugar, no dairy, no wheat. I eat as many vegetables as I can and a lot of healing herbs, like ginger and turmeric.”

Her experience has made her want to help others incorporate integrative medicine in their cancer journeys. In 2018, Pollex and the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation made a donation to fund the creation of the new SherryStrong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic within Novant Health’s new Agnes B. and Edward I. Weisiger Cancer Institute, which is scheduled to start seeing their first patients on November 9, 2020.

“You don’t just have to run right into surgery and chemo. You have options, and they’re all going to be right here, in the same building,” Pollex said. “I think a lot of people’s biggest concern is that they can’t afford integrative medicine, so we wanted to open a clinic that would make it affordable to everyone in our community.”

Pollex recently finished picking out the finishing touches on the new clinic — the tile and the carpet and the lighting. It’s been an emotional process—one that reminds her of all those she has the potential to help. 

“My hope is that when other patients come in, there’s this healing energy and peacefulness that comes over them,” Pollex said. “This isn’t a hospital. This is a place to come to get well and feel well. This is a place of hope.”

Because of her commitment to giving back, Pollex often hears from others who are looking for a way to make an impact but aren’t sure how to do so.

“I think the most important thing is to get involved in what you’re passionate about,” Pollex said. “It doesn’t have to be a financial contribution. There are a million different ways to offer your time and talent in the community. And you don’t have to look far to find people who are in need.”

There are many ways to make a difference, and part of our mission at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation is to help our donors connect with the causes that matter most to them. Whatever and wherever you can give, every effort makes an impact.

You can do your part to support your community, with a gift to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation. Your generosity makes remarkable care possible. Join us, and give today.

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Grant to allow bilingual health workers to focus on health equity in underserved communities

Health equity has been a key area of focus across the Novant Health system for a long time. Now, thanks to your generosity, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation has launched a pilot program to place community health workers in neighborhoods where they are needed most.

With a $150,000 grant, the community health worker program will fund salaries for three individuals for one year. Novant Health is currently recruiting to fill the positions with team members who are fluent in both English and Spanish.

Community health workers specialize in engaging with the community around the overall determinants of health. They help patients in at-risk populations with both health education and advocacy. After getting to know the patient, they then connect them with community resources when necessary. Once onboarded, the team members will work across east Charlotte and west Charlotte with the goal of serving additional communities in the future.

Tamara Smith, senior director of strategy, business performance and compliance at Novant Health, is the visionary behind the program, which embodies a “village mentality” and differs from other models organized around emergency rooms and clinics.

“Instead of expecting patients to come to us through one of our facilities, we now have the opportunity to send community health workers directly to our underserved patients where they live, work, play and pray,” Smith said.

The grant funds will soon be put to use as this program prepares to launch. Wendy Bilas, grants chairwoman of Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation, said she believes the program will make an overwhelmingly positive impact and will bring Novant Health one step closer to helping people lead healthier lives in the community.

“Community health workers improve lives and help patients navigate the healthcare system in ways that make sense,” Bilas said. “They provide crucial support to underserved populations and, at the same time, reduce the load on local emergency rooms and clinics. Having them as part of our team is a huge win for everyone involved, and, honestly, this was one of the easier grant decisions we’ve made. Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation is proud to help fund this pilot program, and we hope it sparks a movement toward more grassroots, common-sense healthcare delivery.”

You, too, can support these efforts by making a gift to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation.

Your generous contributions make it possible for us to improve health equity across our community. Join us and give today.

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Leading the integrative medicine revolution

Dr. Russ Greenfield

Dr. Russell Greenfield is helping transform cancer care across Novant Health

Dr. Russ Greenfield

For much of his career, Dr. Russell Greenfield specialized in emergency medicine right here in Charlotte. Then, one day in the late 1990s, a chance stop at an airport convenience store changed everything.

Greenfield’s flight was delayed, and to pass the time, he was surveying racks of magazines. Then, one caught his eye. There was a white-haired man on the cover, caked in mud and holding a plant. The headline read, “Can this doctor change all of medicine?”He grabbed the magazine just as a loudspeaker announced it was time to board his flight. When he read the article a few days later, he knew instantly it was going to change his life.

The white-haired man was Andrew Weil, and he was starting a fellowship program for physicians that offered a more inspiring vision of what healthcare could be. It wasn’t just about fixing problems; it was about the promotion of overall health and well-being, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“That literally took my breath away,” Greenfield said. “In healthcare, we do a very good job with the physical aspects of healing, but there’s so much more to what health is all about. I realized we were often missing out on an opportunity to help people meet their health goals and their true potential.”

Greenfield was accepted into the very first class of the fellowship program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and has worked in integrative medicine ever since. Three years ago, he joined Novant Health as director of integrative medicine, and this fall, he will celebrate an important milestone: When the new Novant Health Agnes B. and Edward I. Weisiger Cancer Institute opens, it will be home to the Novant Health Sherry Strong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic— a space dedicated entirely to integrative medicine and made possible through a generous donation from Sherry Pollex and the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.

“When you have a location, a destination for integrative medicine, it makes it real. It’s a way Novant Health is putting its flag in the ground and saying, ‘We are taking a leadership stance because we understand our patients have an interest in integrative medicine, and if we don’t acknowledge and respond to that and help keep them safe, we’re not providing as remarkable care as perhaps we could.’”

The new clinic will enhance the current Novant Health Integrative Medicine program, which takes a whole person approach to addressing all factors that influence health and well-being, body, mind and spirit, as well as how each is affected during cancer treatment, recovery and survivorship. The integrative medicine team aims to partner with each patient to develop an individualized program toward optimal health that often includes a range of complementary therapies and healthy lifestyle practices in combination with the best of modern medicine.

“Too often in healthcare, when people are diagnosed with a certain illness, they’re left in an equation that looks like either/or — either you use traditional medicine or you use complementary medicine. We try to take the either/or and make it ‘and,’” Greenfield said.  

In addition to the new center in Charlotte, there is also a dedicated integrative medicine clinic in Winston-Salem associated with Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center, and Greenfield hopes these locations will lay a strong foundation that will encourage more widespread availability of the integrative medicine approach and use of select complementary medical therapies across Novant Health.

“I want to see integrative medicine spread beyond the realm of oncology because the need is quite great,” Greenfield said. “I also want to help spread the influence of integrative medicine across a larger percentage of the Novant Health footprint so we can serve even more people even more fully.”

Greenfield also wants to ensure that patients across the health system have access to these complementary therapies, regardless of their ability to pay.

“We are not interested in providing elitist medicine. This is about serving the community at large, and when there are health inequities, no matter what they are based on, the entire community suffers,” Greenfield said. “Through the generosity of various philanthropists who are supporting our initiatives in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, we are meeting our commitment to make certain those who could not ordinarily afford these complementary therapies will have access to them.”

It’s been more than 20 years since a magazine article changed Greenfield’s life, and as he looks back on his career in integrative medicine thus far, he has much to be grateful for.

“I’m grateful I work within an institution that has the courage to come forth and say, ‘We’re going to take a leadership stance with regard to integrative medicine and let everyone throughout our footprint and beyond know this is an important component of the future of healthcare and it should be throughout the nation,’” Greenfield said. “I am so grateful for the forward-thinking and visionary philanthropists who have supported this initiative. I’m certainly grateful for the remarkable people I work with. And I’m grateful for the patients who trust their care to us. Our goal is to provide them with access to therapies and treatments that, when combined with conventional medical care, can help them optimize health and healing.”

Join Dr. Greenfield by making a donation to Novant Health Foundation.

You can do your part to support your community, with a gift to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation. Your generosity makes remarkable care possible. Join us, and give today.

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How you can continue to improve access to lifesaving healthcare in the fight against the coronavirus

If there were ever a time to donate to our Novant Health foundations, it is now.

We are committed to helping our community every way we can, now and always, and we ask that you consider making a contribution today. Every dollar you donate helps us continue the important work of saving lives.

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For our healthcare community and our world, it appears we still have a long road ahead of us.

COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, has forced us into a fierce battle against its global spread, and healthcare professionals across the Novant Health system are on the front lines.

That’s why we need your support, now more than ever.

Novant Health foundations provide critical funds and resources across our network, which includes more than 1,600 physicians and over 28,000 team members who provide care at more than 640 locations to more than 4.4 million patients in 2019 alone.

Our mission is to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time, and we want to let you know we’re ready no matter the challenge. Our team members quickly adapted to critical safety measures and a vastly different environment without skipping a beat. From nurses who support our patients at the bedside to environmental and food services teams who keep our facilities up and running, each team member works every day with compassion and courage to deliver remarkable healthcare.

Learn more below about how can you help support team members through The Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund, and read stories of how your contributions already have made a lasting impact in team members’ lives.


The Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund

The Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund (formerly the Novant Health COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund) has helped us rise to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and your gifts have done important and lifesaving work. Not only have the communities we serve benefited greatly as a result, but we’ve been able to protect and support Novant Health team members as they demonstrate their selfless commitment and tireless efforts on the front lines.

Through generous donations from you, our donors, we were able to care for our remarkable team members serving on the front lines every day.

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Inspiration through storytelling: share your story of kindness

If there’s something we’ve been reminded of lately, it’s that kindness and connection mean everything. Sharing a story of how you’ve been impacted by someone’s kindness can inspire us to give more, serve more, and most important, to spread more kindness.

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Serving our communities during coronavirus

We’ve focused on reducing disparities by ensuring everyone has access to the tools they need to keep themselves from getting — and spreading — the virus. The Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund also enabled us to provide vital medical equipment such as ventilators and telemedicine devices, set up additional screening centers in underserved communities and purchase tablets so patients can stay connected to their families and friends.

One initiative to fight disparities is our ‘Mask the City’ campaign, designed to ensure everyone in the markets we serve has the masks they need to protect themselves and our communities.

This fight is far from over. Without your help we would not have been able to accomplish all we have so far, and we look forward to carrying on this important work. Thank you for joining us in this critical mission during a time of great need.

The road will be long, but Novant Health Foundation is proud to support our team members, patients and the communities we serve every step of the way.

Please stay safe and healthy. We will get through this crisis – together.

If there were ever a time to donate to our Novant Health foundations, it is now.

We are committed to helping our community every way we can, now and always, and we ask that you consider making a contribution today. Every dollar you donate helps us continue the important work of saving lives.

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Your donations make an impact on Remarkable Team Aubergine

Below is a series of stories highlighting some of the ways your donations have helped our team members provide remarkable care during the global pandemic.

Thank you for providing hope

September 8, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, team members at Novant Health sprang into action, adapting to sweeping policy changes and a vastly different environment in record time. They focused first and foremost on doing what they do best: saving lives.

Hard choice for parents on the front line: work or stay home? Here’s how Novant Health is helping

April 20, 2020

When schools shut down in Stokes County, Christina Mabe was left in a difficult position. Mabe’s job is essential: She is a registered nurse managing patients who may have suffered strokes, pulmonary embolisms or blood clots and who are now on the Coumadin blood thinner.

For newly minted nurse Savannah Hayes, COVID-19 is a ‘baptism by fire’

April 16, 2020

On Good Friday, Savannah Hayes drove into work at the COVID-19 screening center at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center with a basket of eggs in the seat next to her.

Caring for those who care for us

April 15, 2020

What happens when a critical care nurse on the front lines of COVID-19 is also a mother to a son with special needs.

In her words

Kimmie Durham, board chairwoman for Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation, reflects on 23 years as a breast cancer survivor

The following is a personal essay from Kimmie Durham, chairwoman of the board of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, reflecting on her breast cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment to two decades of survival.

For 23 years, I have been a survivor.

My journey began on April 6, 1997, when I found a lump in my breast. I was 38 years old. I was healthy and ran between 75 and 100 miles a week. But I was also a third-generation breast cancer survivor. So when I heard those words — “you have cancer” — it was shocking, but not surprising.

My grandmother was 67 when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was a tough woman and went through a tough battle — a radical mastectomy and then cobalt radiation back in June 1958. Twenty years later, my mother got her cancer diagnosis at the age of 52. She had what was then the “new” modified radical mastectomy, and she lived. Nineteen years after that, I found my lump, and I knew exactly what it was, right from the start.

At first, the doctors told me it was nothing. The biopsies all came back negative. But I knew they were wrong. I had been living in Atlanta for 10 years, and yet suddenly, every time I ran, I just about died of overheating. On those same, intolerable runs, I could feel the lump in my chest. None of that was normal — not for me.

So, over Labor Day weekend in 1997, I had my lump removed. It was cancer, all right — and the size of a golf ball. My body had grown benign cells around it, and back then, the needle biopsies didn’t penetrate enough to pick up the cancer cells. The tests had come back negative, but they were wrong and I was right.

Two weeks after my lumpectomy, I had 80% of my breast removed. I was supposed to be running the Marine Corps Marathon; instead, I was getting all the cancer taken out of my body. Over the course of the next year, I went through radiation and, because of my age and family history, chemotherapy — or what I called my “toxic waste.” I also had an axillary excision of my lymph nodes.

At the end of my treatment, there was still part of me on my chest — one cute, perky breast. Sixteen years later, I sized the other one down to match. I could have gone through my reconstruction sooner, but I wanted to heal and get used to my new body first. When I finally made the time for my surgery and myself, my body was healed and ready. Anyone who knows me has heard me say cancer is a journey. Everyone is different. This was mine.

So, why share all of this, after so many years? I share to advocate for others. That has become my career and my calling. I am the chief passion officer for Third Generation by Design, the organization I founded to advocate for those navigating their own journeys through cancer and other conditions. The role gives me the opportunity to meet women like Sharonda Hankins Davis, who, along with her four sisters, enlisted my help in advocating for their mother during her breast cancer journey. They are five beautiful souls, a family entrenched in our community, and working with them was a blessing. In fact, it inspired me to ask Sharonda to join the board of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation. She agreed, and now we are putting our servant hearts to good use ensuring our community has access to remarkable healthcare, now and in the future.

These last 23 years, I’ve collected numerous stories like that — too many to count, really. And it’s left me beyond grateful, for the wonderful people I’ve met, the life lessons I’ve learned and the community impact I get to focus on. Now, I am living to enjoy my family, friends and my tribe.

To all those going through cancer, remember: Survival rates are excellent now, especially with early detection. To all we have lost to their cancer, I remember each of you and I pray for those who love you and miss you each day.

I also pray diligently we will find a cure.

Remember to take care of your health, have all the preventive tests and always advocate for yourself. Cancer is your journey, and you need to be comfortable with each decision you make. Remember, the most important part of your journey is to trust yourself and be grateful for the chance to live.

Early detection saves lives.

We are beyond grateful for the support of individuals like Kimmie Durham. Her commitment to this community is evident in everything she does, both within Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation and beyond.

You can do your part, too, by making a donation to Brunswick Medical Center Foundation. Your gifts help provide remarkable care to all those in need. Join us, and make your contribution today.

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Rayvon Mitchell is on a mission

As a curbside assistant at Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Institute, he’s spreading love to cancer patients in need

Of all the things the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away, Rayvon Mitchell misses hugs the most.

Mitchell, a certified nursing assistant, works as a curbside assistant at Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Institute. From 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week, he’s there to greet cancer patients as they arrive. But these days, his megawatt smile is hidden behind a protective mask, and his trademark hugs have been put on hold.

“I can’t hug my patients, and it’s killing me,” Mitchell said. “When you use your heart to do things, it becomes so contagious for other people. That’s my goal right now: to love everyone and to make my cancer patients feel loved and cared for when they get here. I always tell my patients, ‘You cross the line in that parking lot, and you belong to me.’ They’re all my babies.”

In the midst of the pandemic, he didn’t want those patients to think he loved them any less, so he and his wife made a sign to hang at his post. It reads: “Corona made me stop hugging you, but God knows I still love you.”

When you ask Mitchell where all that love comes from, he’ll tell you his patients saved his life. Before he married his current wife, whom he met at Forsyth Medical Center, he was in a bad relationship. He never confided in patients about his situation, but the love they showed him helped him through what was a profoundly difficult time. 

“They never knew it, but they were carrying me, and I tell them that story all the time,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has, in turn, carried them. He tells the story of an elderly cancer patient who came to the cancer center with his two sons. The man needed help getting out of his car, but he didn’t want help from Mitchell — at first.

“His sons were trying to warn me that he was prejudiced and didn’t like Black people touching him, but he needed help getting into a wheelchair,” Mitchell said. “I got him in the chair and took him to the location of his treatment. He said nothing to me the whole time, but I was shooting him with all kinds of love. It got to him. He was in tears. He said, ‘I am so sorry. I was treating you that way because of the color of your skin, and I know I’m wrong.’ I said, ‘Let’s forget that. Let’s move forward.’”

Stories like that are scattered across Mitchell’s career, one defined by impact and meaning.

Born and raised in Winston-Salem, he taught school for six years after graduating from college. The experience allowed him to accomplish one of his biggest goals in life: to teach third grade, the grade he had once failed as a child. At the same time, he realized teaching wouldn’t allow him to do everything he wanted to help kids who were struggling. So he went into law enforcement and started a program working with offenders, helping them integrate back into the community and connecting them with the resources they needed to be successful.

The offenders program was important work, but it wasn’t all Mitchell wanted to do with his life. In time, he became a firefighter. He went on to work in mental health services and as a therapeutic foster care coordinator, working to help troubled youths get their lives back on track.

“I would take some of my kids home on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they would sit with my children and family and eat with us. I would give them those holidays they didn’t have,” Mitchell said. “Now, they come up to me as grown men and introduce me to their families and wives and children, and they say, ‘This is the man who saved my life.’”

From there, he went on to work in parks and recreation for the city of Winston-Salem. He even became a professional football player — at the age of 58 — when he signed a contract with the Winston Wildcats, part of the American Indoor Football league. 

One thing he never thought he would become is a nursing team member. And yet that career has become the one he loves most. Cancer is personal for Mitchell, as it is for so many. He lost a niece — “one of my best friends” — to brain cancer. His uncle — the man he’s named after — died of prostate cancer. And his sister is a breast cancer survivor. But his connection to the work goes deeper than that.

“I never could say I had a job that I loved until working here because I could use my heart, and that’s what I’m guided by with these patients,” Mitchell said. “I put myself directly in their place. I very rarely use, ‘I understand,’ when I talk to them. I try to show them, to use something more powerful than, ‘I understand what you’re going through,’ because a lot of people would say, ‘No, you don’t.’ I’ve been there. I know the feeling. I know the sting. I know the tears that have been shared. I know the heartache. But I try not to tell patients that because I can show you better than I can tell you.”

His approach works. Stacy Sawyers, a cancer services support specialist at the Derrick L. Davis Cancer Institute, has seen it firsthand.

“Rayvon delights our patients with his kind spirit and genuine caring attitude. If he is not at the door, you may find him meeting a patient at their car with a wheelchair or pushing patients to the correct waiting room,” Sawyers said. “His tenderness shows as he greets and assists those who need physical help. Even with a mask, he is the smile at the front door that becomes a big part of their cancer journey.”

Mitchell plans to continue being part of that journey. Even in retirement, he intends to work part time at the entrance to the Derrick L. Davis Cancer Institute, helping patients in need.

“God blessed me to be full of love, so I want to share that,” Mitchell said. “The key is more love. We all need more love.”

You can spread the love with a gift to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation.

Your contributions help us provide remarkable care across our facilities and our community. Do your part, and make your gift today.

Donate now