The Weisiger Family and Novant Health: working together for 74 years to save and improve more lives in our community

The Weisiger family’s connection to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center began in 1941, the day Agnes Binder Weisiger was born at Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. The connection now spans across two generations, with Agnes, her husband Ed Sr., stepson Ed Jr., and his wife, Dr. Betsy Fleming, recently announcing a multi-million dollar gift towards the development of the multidisciplinary Heart & Vascular and Cancer outpatient facility.

This new comprehensive center, to be located on the corner of Hawthorne Lane and Fifth Street, will offer access to leading-edge treatments, centralize communication between patients and specialists, and decrease patient costs. Services and amenities will include the performance of clinical trials, a radiation and surgical oncology clinic, a congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation clinic, an infusion center, a team of nurse navigators, and a retail pharmacy.

Cancer and heart disease are the number one and number two killers in the country, and the Weisiger family immediately connected with the new Heart & Vascular and Cancer outpatient facility for personal reasons. Agnes is a breast cancer survivor, and her husband, Ed Sr., had an atrial fibrillation, a common but serious abnormal heart rhythm.

“When I found out Presbyterian was going to do this, I wanted to be there to support the new initiative. This facility will allow more people to receive proper care and health education. They don’t have to go to the ER first,” Agnes says.

At a youthful age of 15, Agnes’ first job began at Presbyterian Medical Center as a candy striper. From that moment, her compassion for others blossomed into a multi-decade nursing career. After graduating from Presbyterian School of Nursing in 1963, she dedicated endless hours at the intensive care and coronary care units. She then graduated from UNC Chapel Hill’s Family Nurse Practitioner School, passionately worked for the next thirty years at hospitals, area medical clinics, and did mission work in India. Agnes lives by her personal motto that “nurses are caring people.”

Like Agnes, Ed Sr. is always encouraged to solve an issue or uncover a need, and he provides unwavering support for Agnes’ tenacity. And as the next generation of philanthropists, Ed Jr. and his wife, Dr. Betsy Fleming, are equally community-minded. Ed Jr., President and CEO of Carolina CAT, believes that the Weisiger family’s contribution will provide healthy and positive outcomes for patients living with heart and cancer challenges.

In addition to the financial contribution, Ed Jr. supports the community by volunteering at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Woodberry Forest School, and The Carolina Thread Trail. Dr. Betsy Fleming, President of Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, believes her love and passion for the arts translates into understanding and caring for people. Particularly in women’s health and wellness, Dr. Fleming encourages others to address issues with courage.

Together, the Weisiger family champions finding solutions to health challenges, and the family name is recognized ubiquitously as a result of becoming grateful patients, with past sponsorships of the echocardiography lab, the Weisiger chapel, and the mobile mammography program.

After his atrial fibrillation scare, Ed Sr. became an advocate for others to receive heart screenings and sponsored the echocardiography lab. In addition, the Weisiger Chapel, located on the third floor by the Harris Hospice Unit was named in his honor. As a retired CEO for Carolina Tractor, Ed Sr. also served on the foundation’s board for many years.

Diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in the summer of 2011 which led to a bilateral mastectomy, Agnes received prompt and attentive care.  “After finding a lump on a Friday, I saw a physician on Monday, and began a treatment plan thereafter. The process was click, click, click, and very efficient at Presbyterian,” Agnes says.

She is now cancer-free. In honor of her cancer battle and in celebration of the remarkable treatment from Presbyterian, Agnes and Ed Sr. sponsored a mobile mammography unit in 2011 to provide breast cancer screenings, further raising breast cancer awareness to save lives.

“There are many people who can’t get to appointments due to work or family obligations. This unit will make the process easier for them,” says Agnes.

Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation is indebted to the Weisiger family, starting from the day Agnes was born here and her tenure of selfless work as a nurse practitioner, and now continuing to support us along with her family. The multi-generational Weisiger family embraces the new Heart & Vascular and Cancer outpatient facility with open arms, a poignant symbol of their 74-year connection to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.

And, with the dedication and true sense of compassion exhibited by the Weisiger family, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center is proud to announce the name of the new cancer center as the Edward I. and Agnes B. Weisiger Oncology Institute.  We are excited about the possibilities this facility will offer to those in and around our community dealing with the devastating effects of cancer.

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