Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — Women’s health took center stage at Catawba College on Thursday, as Rowan Regional Medical Center presented Ladies’ Night Out.
The event drew an estimated 300 women to learn about how to stay healthy while enjoying life.
Free massages, food samples and exercise demonstrations were among the attractions.
Hospital spokeswoman Falon Nye said the goal was to help women relax, enjoy themselves and learn about healthy living options.
“They have the opportunity to have multiple health screenings,” Nye said.
More than 50 of the hospital’s clinical staff, including physicians, volunteered for the event, Nye said.
Hospital President Dari Caldwell said she hopes the women who attended the event see the hospital and participating vendors as partners in healthy living.
Tasty treats were among the attractions.
Cauble Creek Winery had wine, as well as muscadine grape juice which is promoted as rich in antioxidants.
Other vendors were more focused on mental health, rather than physical fitness.
For Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, this means comfort food.
“Sometimes when you feel bad, you want something that feels like love,” Cohen said.
On the table in front of her were petite strawberry shortcakes, bread pudding and bon-bons.
Elsewhere, nurses and doctors stood by tables with information on reproductive health, cancer prevention and exercise.
David Bass, a respiratory therapist at Rowan Regional, had graphic displays of the effects of smoking to encourage women to quit.
“This is the ‘Jar of Tar,’ ” Bass said. He held up a glass jar filled with roughly a quart of sickly-looking brown syrup.
Bass said the jar represented the tar inhaled by a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day throughout the year.
Bass said many women are switching to “snus,” or spit-free smokeless tobacco, which some believe is healthier.
Not so, Bass said.
And he provided a visual aid to show the dangers of smokeless tobacco: a model of a human face with diseased gums and teeth.
The good news, he said, is it’s possible to quit. The hospital offers smoking cessation programs.
“We’d like to start the conversation,” Bass said.
Not all of the displays relied on “shock and awe” to get conversations started.
At the RRMC Family Maternity Center booth, clinical educator Connie Hoffner handed out packets of information for expectant mothers.
The hospital offers classes for new moms on breathing, nursing and infant CPR and safety.
There’s even a class for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters.
“We talk about how to be a helper to mom and dad,” Hoffner said.
Sandi Surratt, also a clinical educator, said she hopes more women will learn about the support the hospital provides for new mothers and families.
Other tables offered free screenings for stroke risk, blood pressure, and body mass index.
Those might provide some wake-up calls for women who need to take better care of themselves.
But overall, the atmosphere was positive and uplifting, with a focus on women coming together to learn more about how to live healthier lives.
Lynn Treece of China Grove said she enjoyed the event.
“Maybe it’ll be the first step,” she said, encouraging women to seek medical advice and resources when they’re needed.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.