Novant Health declares war on preventable killers

MLK Health Fair first screening event
Jan. 17, 2014 @ 02:08 PM

It’s a 1-2-3 defensive punch. Novant Health has declared war on high blood pressure, prediabetes and obesity as part of a multi-year, systemwide community health initiative.

And it starts in Thomasville.

The first screening will be held at the MLK Health Fair set from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Jan. 20, at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, 207 Old Lexington Road.

Accordinging to the Center for Disease control, 8.9 percent of the population in Davidson County has diabetes.

“Most people with type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure,” said Marcy Shipwash, diabetes educator at Novant Health TMC.  “People with both conditions are often overweight or obese. Because these health disorders are inherently interconnected, we are resolved to confront them simultaneously.”

National statistics are alarming. One out of every three Americans age 20 and older has prediabetes. Additionally, one in three has hypertension and more than one-third of adults are considered obese.

“Since Jan. 1, Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center has seen 19 newly identified patients with diabetes who have been enrolled in its diabetes education program,” said Shipwash.

Since 2010, Novant Health systemwide has led a search and rescue mission to find patients with undetected diabetes who were admitted to hospitals for other reasons. To date,  more than 150,000 people have been screened  with 6,000 diagnosed with diabetes.

The health fair will allow Novant Health TMC to help people connect with a primary care physician for an appointment, provide information for free educational classes and for a new diabetes support group.

Other health fairs are scheduled in various communities served by Novant Health, which plans to screen 500,000 people in inpatient, outpatient and community settings to evaluate their risk factors. Novant Health officials expect more than 25,000 A1C blood tests and other screenings for those determined to be at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke to be performed.

Serious health implications can include organ and nerve damage, loss of limbs and blindness. Combined, these three health conditions account for approximately $266 billion in annual U.S. medical costs and contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year.

While proper detection and management can reverse these consequences, an overwhelming majority of adults with prediabetes and high blood pressure are unaware of their conditions.

“Every day we see the impact these significant but often preventable killers have on families,” said Carl S. Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health. “Prediabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are leading factors in two of the biggest killers in America: heart disease and stroke. By focusing on intensive screening and appropriate education efforts in our communities, we can encourage a new kind of epidemic: health and wellness.”

Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, family physician and senior vice president with Novant Health, encourages patients to ask their doctors to rule out prediabetes.

“A large percentage of consumers seek education and prevention options related to cancer, high cholesterol, or even back and joint pain,” said Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, family physician and senior vice president with Novant Health. “Yet, how many ask their doctor to rule out prediabetes, regularly check their blood pressure or take real action when their weight creeps up to obese levels?

“The answer is very few. Our message is simple but powerful: Small changes can really make a big difference.”


Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center offers a free support group for those touched by diabetes.

The support group will offer information on diabetes care, support and encouragement.

The first session will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the education classroom at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center, 207 Old Lexington Road.

This meeting will include a mini-talk on foot care presented by Dr. Cullen Reilly with Novant Health Pinnacle Orthopaedics.

Light refreshments will be served and registration is requested. Contact Marcy Shipwash, at 476-2880 or