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Celebrate Better Health!

People from near and far enjoyed a day of health and fun at the Fall into Health Festival at the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Organized by Dr. Marie Campbell, DNP, FNP-BC, a wide range of partners contributed to the bring valuable services and gifts to all who attended.

Columbus Regional Healthcare System was a key sponsor of the event, providing food and beverages, as well as a wide range of screenings and information. Participants had their blood pressure checked, and their blood sugar evaluated, and had their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated, and learned about recognizing and getting rapid treatment for Strokes. Under the able direction of Stephanie Miller, Manager of Physician and Community Services, nursing students from Southeastern Community College performed much of the tests, supervised by the licensed professionals.

“COVID put many people behind on their health,” said Stephanie Miller, Manager of Physician and Community Services at Columbus Regional Healthcare. “Necessary annual screenings, such as mammograms, prostate screenings, and colonoscopies have been put off. Our goal is to reach the community where they are and remind them of these important screenings, and how important it is to see their primary healthcare provider.

“Heart Disease is the #1 cause of death in Columbus County,” Ms. Miller explained. “The more we can get out in the community and educate our neighbors on stroke prevention, blood pressure and healthy eating, the better. This Health Festival gave an opportunity to do just that, and it was an educational, great time!”

Another major partner was Novant Health, which flew in a medical transport helicopter—a flying ambulance—to the event, which guests could view and ask questions of the pilot and medical staff. The Tabor City ambulance was also on site to show how emergency services save lives on the ground.

Staff of the Columbus DREAM Center performed simple saliva testing for HIV and Hepatitis C with results in 15 minutes. Shauna Treadaway, Columbus Regional’s Education and Volunteer Coordinator taught CPR throughout the day in hourly sessions. Visitors practiced the vital skill of chest compressions to keep blood and oxygen pumping through an unconscious person until advanced medical support can arrive.

Lung health—and particularly the impact of inhaling smoke or particulates—was demonstrated with real animal lungs that were inflated and deflated to simulate breathing.

Pregnancy and Postpartum health—and the mobile clinics that support people’s mental and emotional health—were introduced by Coastal Horizons. The DREAM center also shared Powerful Parenting education for families with elementary aged children. The Columbus County Partnership for Children introduced vital information for children’s health, and child literacy was the focus of one table where books and coloring games were provided to young visitors who could sign up to receive free children’s books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.

Pediatrician Dr. Jugta Kahai, MD, of Southeast Pediatrics provided information about children’s health. Podiatrist Derek Pantiel, of InStride Summit Podiatry demonstrated and answered questions about foot issues and proper care.

Cancer treatment and prevention information was provided by Donayre Cancer Care Center and Atrium Health (Levine Cancer Institute), part of Columbus Regional’s system. Chronic care options, including Advanced Directives and Hospice care, were shared by Community Home Care & Hospice.

Even financial health was covered! Education on how to manage and increase finances (insurance, car loans, mortgages, savings, and estate planning) was provided by the State Employees Credit Union.

Preventing sexual violence and accessing protection or care was the focus of the Families First exhibit.

While serious topics were being shared throughout the location, celebration was taking place as well. The Kona Ice truck was sharing the flavorful and refreshing cups of shaved ice and delicious flavors. Face Painting transformed many visitors into their favorite characters. And at the center of it all, Coast Radio 97.3 DJ Sammy Figgs filled the air with great tunes that inspired lots of dancing and performances throughout the day’s events.

The event culminated with a raffle of five brand-new bicycles, donated by Ms. Wanda Campbell Clay of Campbell Tree Farms, and several prizes of gift certificates, food, and other valuable items. Both adults and children were delighted to receive their new bikes, a terrific way to stay fit and have fun.

Vince Spaulding, Project Leader of the George Henry White Center remarked, “Bladen and Columbus counties are 100th and 97th in the state in health and other services. We built this center to try to change that, and this “Fall into Health Festival” is only the first of many programs we hope to bring to the hardworking residents of the area.”

The George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center is a project of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation (BESDF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to uplifting others through educational, literary, charitable and scientific activities. The GHW center is fully accessible to all people. To bring your program to the Center, use the website:

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