Category Archives: Presbyterian

The Duke Endowment supports better eyesight for students in need

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation receives $200,000 to participate in Vision to Learn program

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation received a $200,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to engage Vision To Learn, a national nonprofit organization that operates mobile vision clinics to provide free screenings, eye exams and glasses to economically disadvantaged students.

NHPMC Foundation serves as a fiduciary agent for the grant, which provides $40,000 this year and $160,000 incrementally until 2024 to serve students throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).

Vision To Learn reports that about one in five children needs glasses to see the board, read a book or participate in class. About 95 percent of children who attend school in low-income communities do not have the glasses they need. Students with uncorrected vision problems often avoid reading, suffer headaches and experience difficulty focusing in class. Students not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school.

Vision To Learn partners with the school district and provides a program that begins with vision screenings for all students in the school. After the initial evaluation, Vision To Learn coordinates with schools to schedule one or more visits by the mobile vision clinic staff. Students who require glasses can choose frames onboard the mobile vision clinic. Approximately two weeks after exam day, Vision To Learn’s optician returns to the school to deliver new glasses, provide individual glasses fittings and educate students on proper care and cleaning.

To learn more about the programs, please visit: and

Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina awards $10,000 grant

Grant highlight

Thanks to support from the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, Novant Health Cancer Prevention, Education and Early Detection staff is improving access to care for under/uninsured Mecklenburg County individuals at high risk for lung cancer through Novant Health’s Lung Cancer Screening and Education Program. Staff collaborates with Shelter Health Services, Charlotte Community Health Clinic and Lake Norman Community Health Clinic to encourage under/uninsured, high-risk individuals to enroll in program activities if they are long-term smokers or have experienced long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.

Staff provides education, smoking cessation counseling, nicotine patches and low-dose CT scans with the goal of reducing late-stage lung cancer diagnoses among the targeted population. Staff also provides gasoline cards to patients facing transportation barriers to screening appointments.

“We are proud to partner with Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina for the 2019 grant cycle,” says Maria Kuklinski-Long, manager of Novant Health Cancer Prevention, Education and Early Detection. “This grant affords under/uninsured individuals the opportunity to access lifesaving prevention and early detection measures to reduce the risk of late-stage lung cancer. We are extremely grateful for the generous support of the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina in this important endeavor.”

To learn more about the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, please visit

The Peninsula Community Foundation child life specialist grant

The Peninsula Community Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant to support Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center Child Life Specialist

Thanks to The Peninsula Community Foundation, children who need to visit the ER will have a child life specialist to help them and their family cope with the trauma of illness and medical treatments.

Ashley Parkey
Alexandra Parkey

The Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation received a two-year, $15,000 grant, which will be used to help fund the child life specialist in the Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center pediatric-friendly emergency department.

The new child life specialist, Alexandra Parkey, started earlier this year. Parkey states, “As a child, I was very ill. My family and I experienced firsthand how impactful a child life program truly is at normalizing the hospital environment and minimizing traumatic medical procedures.”  

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation began fundraising in 2018 for expansions at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, including the new pediatric-friendly emergency department. Other capital improvements at the hospital include the addition of 44 beds, which will open in early June 2019.

About The Peninsula Community Foundation

The Peninsula Community Foundation is a volunteer organization serving North Mecklenburg County. Their vision is to bring people, capital, and ideas together to help local Lake Norman charities and the communities they serve by working closely with them. Learn more at

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation receives $75,000 from the Colon Cancer Coalition

Randy Brantley, Grants Director, and Kerri Polce, Grants Manager, accepted the $75,000 check on behalf of Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation from local “Get Your Rear in Gear – Charlotte” event director Phillip Sanford at the Rally Party held January 21 at Free Range Brewing Co.

Thanks to a generous grant of $75,000 from the Colon Cancer Coalition to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation, Novant Health Cancer Care will continue to offer colonoscopy screenings, patient living expenses coverage and colon cancer rehabilitation and wellness services for Charlotte-area low-income colorectal cancer patients. This grant is made possible through funds raised during the March 2018 “Get Your Rear in Gear – Charlotte” event.

You can help this year by participating in the 10th annual “Get Your Rear in Gear –Charlotte” held on March 30, 2019 at Independence Park. There will be races for adults and youth, and a fun run for kids 10 and under; as well as post-race refreshments and an awards ceremony. To donate or register for the event, please visit

Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte

John Fitzhugh joins Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte to support Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Program

John Fitzhugh always has been passionate about helping others and channeling his boundless energy to steer many nonprofits. Along the way John has been touched by countless volunteers and organizations who serve the community. However, no person has inspired John more than his wife, Cassell, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Cassell was diagnosed with cancer following the birth of their fourth child. Her fight with breast cancer, coupled with the fear and anxiety that accompanies a life-threatening diagnosis, inspired John to focus on ensuring every individual has access to quality healthcare.

As part of his powerful story, John joined Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation’s board where he currently serves as Board Chair. His hope is that his three daughters and their generation will not have to face the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. John and his family are incredibly grateful for the wonderful care Cassell received at Novant Health. They realize that not everyone has access to the level of healthcare received, and many have no access at all.

John and his wife explain how important this initiative is to their family.

Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte

John Fitzhugh Dancing with the Stars Charlotte

John and Charlotte Ballet’s Elizabeth Truell.

In Charlotte Ballet’s seventh year of the Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte Gala on March 2, John is dancing to raise funds for Novant Health’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Center. This program provides critical mammography screenings and diagnostic services to underserved and uninsured individuals in Charlotte and the thousands of Carolinians with limited access to healthcare.

John’s positive impact to the early detection programs will yield increased breast health literacy and access to timely breast health care, which is directly associated with breast cancer survival rates.

Not only has he made incredible impact as a Board Chair—he has been a phenomenal friend and mentor to all. He brings exuberance and unstoppable energy, which touches everyone he meets.    

Cast your vote below and help John raise funds for this important cause.

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Novant Health’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Program

Funds raised through Dancing with the Stars will be used to improve access to timely breast healthcare and to reduce breast cancer mortality among low income, under/uninsured, and minority populations in our community. The American Cancer Society states that poverty, education deficiency, and lack of health insurance are associated with lower breast cancer survival rates.

In 2017 Novant Health’s Prevention and Early Detection Program Center provided 650 screening mammograms and 674 diagnostic procedures and diagnosed 26 breast cancers for women who were uninsured in Mecklenburg County. The screenings and subsequent treatment for these patients was completely covered through donations.

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A Private Space for Care, Comfort & Hope

Through a partnership with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation, John and Ginny Comly have chosen to honor their youngest daughter, Caroline Comly, with Caroline’s Corner, a private area on the pediatric floor of Hemby Children’s Hospital, where families can find a warm, peaceful place to rest, regroup and find hope. Additionally, the Comlys have chosen to show their gratitude for the pediatric critical care team by constructing a respite room within the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), a place of calm for clinicians on the frontlines of patient care to decompress and find new resolve.

Novant Health Fund Caroline's Corner

Please help Caroline’s legacy live on. Your gift ensures her impact will be felt by other children battling difficult odds and the adults who will hold their hands every step of the way.

Caroline’s Corner will bring care, comfort and hope to families with a hospitalized child. Plans are in place to create a spacious, private and peaceful retreat uniquely designed to meet the needs of pediatric patients’ families. The area will be constructed and furnished to make every day spent at the hospital a little more comfortable, enabling families to focus on their child’s healing and recovery.


Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center among six to receive $1.4M state grant for opioid support

Six North Carolina hospitals and health systems, including Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, will receive a grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services to staff emergency rooms with opioid-addiction peer support specialists. DHHS, which is partnering with the North Carolina Healthcare Association on the project, is funding the $1.37 million grant.

In 2016, roughly 42,249 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses, including at least 1,956 confirmed deaths in North Carolina. The state’s death toll marked a 24.7 percent increase from 2015’s confirmed total, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospitals and systems participating in the one-year program each will receive up to $180,000 in reimbursements in exchange for hiring at least two so-called “certified peer-support specialists.” To qualify, specialists will have been clean and in drug recovery for at least three years. They will be placed in the emergency departments to connect opioid-addicted patients with treatment and related support resources.

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex donate $1.2 million to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex donate $1.2 million to fund an emergency pediatric department and integrative medicine oncology clinic

Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, and his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, have made a $1.2 million gift to fund two health initiatives close to their hearts. The first will establish the Martin Truex Junior Foundation Pediatric Emergency Department at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. This will be the first pediatric emergency department for the Lake Norman area, one of the nation’s fastest growing markets.

The second part of the gift will establish the SherryStrong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. Diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2014, Pollex suffered a recurrence in 2017 that required surgery to remove her spleen. In February, she completed her final round of chemotherapy. Throughout her treatment, she used the best of conventional medical care with carefully selected complementary, integrative therapies to help optimize her health. It is her hope that the new clinic will enable others to do the same.

Pollex and Truex said their contributions to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation will provide healthy and positive outcomes for adults and children living with cancer complications.


Making patients’ experiences remarkable

As we celebrate National Healthcare Week (which is the name for National Hospital Week here at Novant Health), here are a few stories we are honored to share that illustrate our team members’ compassion and commitment to teamwork and personal excellence:

  • Mom Heather Haaland reached out to tell us about a connection she felt with an emergency department nurse at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. While at home one night, one of her sons, 2-year-old Brooks, lost his balance and hit his head on a side table. Heather rushed him to the emergency room, where registered nurse Bobby Thames – also a mom who raised a son, now grown – reassured Heather that mishaps will happen. Bobby’s kind words made Heather feel at ease, and not judged.

“She was super sweet,” Heather said about Bobby. “When your kid gets hurt or upset or sad, you feel like you failed as a mom. It was comforting to hear from her.”


  • A team at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center showed a commitment to patients that extends all the way to the parking lot. A patient called to share how he was so ill he couldn’t get out of the car. Someone came and carried him from the vehicle. Once inside, the man said the remarkable level of care continued. The demonstration of teamwork and compassion was especially important to this patient, who works in the region during the week and doesn’t have family members nearby to help.

  • Novant Health Sleep Medicine and Sleep Center locations in the greater Charlotte market hosted a birthday party for kids at Safe Alliance shelter, a shelter for women and families who are victims of domestic violence. Team members donated to provide treat bags, crafts, cookies, cupcakes and more.


  • Certified nursing assistant Darlene Jackson has worked at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center since 1980. She describes her job this way: I am whatever you need me to be.I’m your help to the bathroom. If you are having a hard day, I’m your shoulder to lean or cry on. A wife of a patient sent Darlene roses because she took such good care of her husband. Darlene is a 2018 Mark winner, our program launched last year to recognize team members’ passion in serving our organization and our patients.


  • We heard from one of our own nurse team members about the importance of a key nursing care imperative: bedside reporting, which includes the patient and family in conversations during the handoff of care between nurses. Our team member’s mother was hospitalized at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center. The family member was right there when it came time for discussions on upcoming treatment or how mom fared during the night. “I have never been more impressed with the care my mother received on that floor,” said our nurse. “I have addressed my care to reflect the warmth we felt and received.”

If you would like to share your own remarkable story, please click here


A long-standing connection

The Weisiger family’s relationship with Novant Health spans 75 years and counting

Edward I. and Agnes B. Weisiger Cancer Institute Rendering

The Weisiger family’s story at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center started with the birth of Agnes Binder Weisiger in 1941 and has spanned two generations. The family legacy will now live on for many decades as one of our newest buildings will now carry the Weisiger name.

The family recently announced a gift toward the development of the Edward I. and Agnes B. Weisiger Cancer Institute, an outpatient facility currently under construction. The Cancer Institute will be co-located with the John M. and Claudia W. Belk Heart and Vascular Institute.

Heart disease and cancer are the No. 1 and No. 2 killers in the country. The Weisiger family immediately connected with both the new heart and vascular center as well as the cancer outpatient facility for personal reasons. Agnes is a breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Ed Sr., had atrial fibrillation, a common but serious abnormal heart rhythm.

Diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in the summer of 2011, Agnes received her care at Presbyterian Medical Center. In honor of her cancer battle and in celebration of the remarkable treatment received while a patient at Novant Health, Agnes along with Ed Sr. sponsored the community’s first two mobile mammography units. To further their support, they will fund an overhaul of the breast center located adjacent to the hospital.

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center is indebted to the Weisiger family, starting from the day Agnes was born here to her tenure of selfless work as a nurse practitioner, and now her family’s remarkable support of the Cancer Institute.