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Novant Health offers free A1C blood test

KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Council was impressed by Novant Health’s presentation on its Community Wellness Initiative. So much so that the mayor and the majority of council members and staff stuck around after their Monday night meeting to complete the free screening.

Through this initiative, Novant is offering a free blood test called A1C. This test screens for diabetes and pre-diabetes, according to Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, Novant’s senior vice president of physician services.

Garmon-Brown was introduced by Dari Caldwell, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and a Kannapolis native. Also attending was Greg Philpot, the hospital’s market support manager, who will work with churches and other organizations to set up testing sites.

Through testing of 150,000 patients in its hospitals, Novant found more than 6,000 new diabetes diagnoses, Garmon-Brown said. Additionally, some 15,000 corporate clients were tested, with 20 percent found to have pre-diabetes.

Garmon-Brown noted that in the U.S., some 26 million people have diabetes, but 7 million don’t know it. There are also 79 million people with pre-diabetes, 93 percent of whom are undiagnosed. Without intervention, these people will develop diabetes in two to 10 years, she said.

The screenings also include a blood pressure check and body mass index screening, because hypertension and obesity are top health concerns.

“That trio is deadly,” Garmon-Brown said of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

In 2014, Novant’s goal is to screen some 500,000 people, Garmon-Brown said. “We believe we can change the trajectory of what’s going on in health care.”

Garmon-Brown said that A1C is not a new test, but can help manage diabetes in patients who have been diagnosed, and reveal the disease in people who have not.

Because obesity rates are increasing, so are diabetes rates, especially among children.

“I never saw type 2 diabetes in children when I was in medical school,” said Garmon-Brown, who graduated in 1980. “This test is free, it takes five minutes, and we have found people who are seriously ill. This test helped them get the help they needed.”

Councilman Tom Kincaid admitted he’d just eaten a cookie, but Garmon-Brown said this was a non-fasting test so the results would not be affected. Councilman Darrell Jackson didn’t seem exactly thrilled with the idea of a blood test, but both men went through the screening.

In other business, City Council:

• Unanimously voted to table an ordinance to demolish a dilapidated structure at 209 Rice St. Jeff Wells, deputy planning director, said he had been contacted by a family member of the deceased property owner earlier in the day. That family member is a licensed contractor, he said. “We do have the opportunity to have something positive happen with this property.”

In responding to Councilman Ryan Dayvault’s question, Wells said that the family member would have to pay several years’ worth of back taxes on the property.

Council will again discuss the issue on Feb. 24.

• Unanimously voted to renew for 20 years the Concord/Kannapolis Annexation Agreement.

There is a high level of collaboration on numerous projects between the two municipalities, according to City Manager Mike Legg.

“There’s no reason not to adopt it,” he said. “There’s no sense of urgency, but it does make sense to adopt it. The city of Concord is in agreement. They have no issues at all.”

No one spoke during the public hearing.

• Unanimously approved Façade & Site Improvement Grant Guidelines.

At its Dec. 9 meeting, City Council allotted $20,000 for grants to be used along South Cannon Boulevard between I-85 and Dale Earnhardt Boulevard. Irene Sacks, director of business and community affairs, said that the money could be used for up to four grants for business owners in this area.

Meetings for property owners are set for 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at Hilbish Ford. Sacks noted that properties must be for-profit, commercial buildings. Responding to questions by Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas, Sacks said that she and her staff would consult with business owners before they apply for grants to ensure that they follow the guidelines.

• Unanimously voted to demolish a dilapidated structure at 2204 Centergrove Road.

Because the structure is a former business, it does not quality for Community Block Grant Funding. However, there is funding in the Code Enforcement Budget. Asbestos removal is estimated at $2,000, with demolition estimated at $4,000, for a total cost of $6,000.

• Recognized Sacks upon her completion of becoming a certified economic developer through the International Economic Development Council.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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