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Connections After 5 Event Expresses “Something to be Thankful For”

The notable "red" and "white" tablecloths from Thursday's event.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Pierce.

ROCKINGHAM – Blessings were bountiful during last night’s Connections After 5 event where local business leaders gathered together to give thanks and enjoy an evening of networking and fellowship.  

Hosted in partnership with FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Richmond, Thursday’s event was the latest in the Connections series organized by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce.

Upon arrival, guests were welcomed to a decadent Thanksgiving-style meal prepared by the hospital’s cafeteria. Not a side was spared, as the meal boasted all of the Thanksgiving favorites, including mashed potatoes, dressing, vegetables, rolls, turkey, and of course, pumpkin pie.

The most unique feature of the meal, however, was its arrangement.  Namely, its tablecloths.

As many guests may have noted, the buffet line was divided into two distinct sections, red and white.  Items on the white tablecloth were those made in a traditional Thanksgiving feast preparation, and included plenty of butter and gravy.  Items served on the red tablecloth, however, were healthier alternative options.

“We’re focusing as a healthcare system more and more on improving the health of the community,” said John Jackson, President of the Southern Region of FirstHealth of the Carolinas. “The red tablecloth is an idea that we have for people to take back to their church events and their family events.”  

Jackson went on to explain that the red tablecloth, utilized as a symbol of heart health, is to provide people with an opportunity to make a healthy choice.  As he explained, not every item that every person eats has to be healthy, but at least utilizing the red tablecloth concept will allow event attendees to make that choice for themselves.

As guests finished the final bites of their meal, Richmond County Chamber of Commerce President Emily Tucker took to the podium to provide all attendees with a warm welcome speech.  She went on to introduce all members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, who were recently selected for the upcoming term.

Membership Director, Seth Allen, was next to the podium, and took a few brief moments to share some of the exciting events that the Chamber and their member businesses have scheduled for the upcoming Christmas season.

The stage was then turned over to Jackson, who echoed Tucker’s comments about the joy and success of the Thanksgiving dinner event. Jackson then utilized his time at the mic to highlight some of the major successes of the FirstHealth of the Carolina’s Richmond Memorial Hospital. 

Although their successes have been numerous, Jackson focused the attendees’ attention on the remarkable reduction in waiting times for patient emergency visits.  He went on to explain that within the past few months, the average patient only waits an average of 11 minutes to be seen by a nurse, and 26 minutes to be seen by a doctor.  Additionally, the overall time from admission to discharge is now 2 hours and 15 minutes or less. 


Jackson next commented about FirstHealth’s recent transition to a new computerized record system which allows doctors and physicians to have a more organized and complete look at each patient’s medical history.  Information regarding the addition of more doctors and specialists in our area was also a major success highlighted by Jackson.

Upon the conclusion of Jackson’s speech, the microphone was once again returned to Tucker who shared a plethora of upcoming events and opportunities with the attendees, making the statement, “Nobody can say there’s nothing to do in Richmond County.  There’s proof right there that there’s a lot going on, and we encourage you to get out and support this community.”

The event, which is part of a longstanding tradition between the two organizations, is just a glimpse into the successful community partnership between these two organizations. 

“We have a very good relationship,” explained Jackson.  “We’re one of the largest employers and businesses in the community, and so it’s important for us to be part of it and make sure that we make the Chamber strong, which makes all of the businesses strong in the community.”

After nearly 20 years or hosting the annual Connections After 5 event, the seasonal celebration hasn’t lost its appeal. 

“It’s such a great chance to see people in the community,” Jackson commented. “To see such a large group of friends together, I have a ball and just really enjoy it.  And not many people like coming to a hospital, and so the fact that they like coming here and have so much fellowship, it’s just a lot of fun.

“I am glad they let me do this Thanksgiving one,” added Jackson, “because it kicks off the holiday season, and there’s nothing more fun than kicking off the holiday season with friends.”

To learn more about the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce or their Connections After 5 series, visit their website at www.richmondcountychamber.com.  For more information on FirstHealth’s red tablecloth initiative, contact Ellen Cooper at ecooper@firsthealth.org. 

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