“Cheat Death” may have a short life as a hospital slogan, at least at CaroMont Health in Gastonia.
The nonprofit company that operates Gastonia’s hospital as well as medical offices in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties is apparently backing off of its new tagline, which was roundly criticized after it was unveiled last week.
On Saturday night, Randall Kelley, the CEO and president of CaroMont, sent an email to members of the board of trustees announcing that the company would take another look at the slogan: “We will pause on the initiative long enough to consider a rallying cry that will unite us and put the attention where it needs to be – providing every man, woman and child in Gaston County the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives.”
Gaston County commissioner Jason Williams, who also serves on the hospital’s Board of Trustees, said he had asked for a special board meeting to look at how to move forward.
Williams said he wasn’t surprised at the negative reaction to the slogan.
“Gaston County’s a very conservative county. It didn’t surprise me at all that it didn’t go over well,” he said. “I think CaroMont thought they could frame it in a way that it would be accepted. I think it was well intentioned.”
The “Cheat Death” slogan was announced last week as Gaston Memorial Hospital became CaroMont Regional Medical Center. Along with the name change, the hospital also rolled out a new community health initiative.
At the time, Kelley said the edgy tagline was part of an approach that was needed in a county with a health ranking of 81st among North Carolina’s 100 counties.
“To put it bluntly, we have a health care crisis in Gaston County,” Kelley said at the time. “And to solve it we’re going to have to transition to an entirely new structure of delivering health care.”
Board member Donnie Loftis said Sunday he was glad the board will get another chance to look at the slogan.
“I agree with the step-back part,” he said. “This is a big thing for our community. I don’t think the community was involved as much as they wanted. I’m glad we’re backing away from that.”
The slogan had traveled quickly from T-shirts worn by the CaroMont staff to national news, including stories in the Washington Post and New York Times.
“People in the community and people that worked at CaroMont were embarrassed by it,” Williams said Sunday night. “It cheapened the mission.”