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Gaston leaders talk about hospital decisions

GASTONIA Gaston County commissioners called for a news conference late Friday in response to the name change of Gaston Memorial Hospital and a new community health slogan dubbed “Cheat Death.”

At an unveiling ceremony on Thursday, the new name of Gaston Memorial Hospital – CaroMont Regional Medical Center – was announced along with the “Cheat Death” tagline.

Commissioner Tracy Philbeck said citizens were irate about both.

“The commissioners had no input,” he said. “The community had no input. They are cramming this down our throats.”

Philbeck said CaroMont’s upper management “has this idea they can do what they want to do and don’t have to include the community.”

Three of the seven commissioners were present – Philbeck, Jason Williams and Chad Brown – along with about 100 people in front of the Gaston County Courthouse.

The private, nonprofit Gaston Memorial Hospital was established in 1946. The county owns the land and leases the buildings and property to CaroMont for $1 per year. County commissioners appoint 13 of the 14 members of the hospital board of trustees.

Philbeck said the news conference wasn’t called “to bash the hospital,” calling it the “jewel in the crown of Gaston County.”

But he said decisions coming from the hospital management are out of touch with the community and that the name change and new slogan are just the latest examples in a pattern.

Philbeck said he’s called and emailed management since yesterday’s announcement and “no one has replied.”

If commissioners and hospital management can’t sit down and work together, “all options are on the table,” Philbeck said. “We’ll do what we have to do to represent this county.”

Philbeck said hospital employees were among those who attended Friday’s news conference and that “they support us.”

DePriest: 704-868-7745
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