Heart Education Center

A look inside the new Turrentine Heart Education Center
Greenville Health System opens Heart Education Center
Feb. 22, 2007

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Greenville, take heart – the $1.61 million William Newton and Elizabeth Horton Turrentine Heart Education Center officially opened for visitors on Thursday, Feb. 22.

The state-of-the-art center includes museum-quality interactive displays, a library, online research, health assessment programs, amphitheater and children’s area with age-appropriate information about heart disease. As one of only two hospital-affiliated heart education centers in the nation, it’s expected to attract upwards of 10,000 visitors per year, including students, the community at large, patients and their families.

The center is on the ground floor of Greenville Memorial Hospital’s Heart Institute, with its centerpiece 6-foot-tall heart visible from the hospital’s main thoroughfare.

“This is an extraordinary example of a community’s generosity and what can happen when a handful of individuals want to make a difference,” said Michael Riordan, president and CEO of Greenville Health System. The center is named for William Newton and Elizabeth Horton Turrentine, teachers whose unexpected acts of kindness left permanent imprints in the lives of those around them. What began as a way for the Turrentine family to honor Newt and Lit grew to a multi-faceted center thanks to an outpouring of additional support from other individuals and philanthropic foundations.

“This initiative will be an important tool in the prevention, early detection and rehabilitation essential to win the fight against heart disease. As such, it will be a leader in heart education for South Carolina and a model for community education for other healthcare systems,” said Riordan. The center, through its distance learning component with Greenville County Schools, could also help inspire a new generation of future healthcare specialists by offering rising juniors unique access to healthcare education, including the opportunity to see live procedures and surgeries.

Heart Education Center components include the following:

•    William Page Algary Amphitheater, named in honor of Greenville’s first full-time cardiologist. The Algary Amphitheatre will be used to hold daily educational classes for the community, school children and clinical staff. In addition, heart disease prevention and education classes will be held there through collaboration between Greenville County Schools and the Roper Mountain Science Center. The Algary Amphitheatre is made possible through the generosity of Dr. Algary’s colleagues, friends and patients.

•    Sam Hunt Library, named in honor of the Greenville banker and cardiac patient who spearheaded the creation of the GHS Life Center Heart & Conditioning Club. The GHS HeartLife Program, housed there, is now one of the largest in the country. The Hunt Library has a collection of more than 300 consumer education books, DVD’s and magazines, including many in Spanish. The library will give visitors access to heart education materials, resources and classes in a quiet, non-clinical environment. Once its holdings expand, visitors will be able to check out materials and, comparable to NetFlix, simply mail them to the library when done and even request additional material. The Hunt Library is made possible by the Sam H. Hunt Fund for Heart Disease Education.

•    Hollingsworth Media Center, named in honor of Greenville philanthropist John D. Hollingsworth Jr. It will give patients, families and the community access to the Internet, as well as the opportunity to receive a customized health plan after completing a computerized health assessment. The plan will include smart lifestyle choices designed to improve cardiovascular health. Some of the assessments are also provided in Spanish. The educational resources are made possible, in part, by the grant from the Hollingsworth Funds Inc, established by its namesake to impact and increase the health awareness of people of Greenville County.

•    Children’s Corner, sponsored by the GHS Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Corner, complete with child-sized furniture, will offer child-friendly explanations of heart disease, as well as a touch screen with interactive games.

•    Interactive displays, ranging from a six-foot-tall heart to displays showing a myriad of real-life experiences such as a catheter being fed from a leg into the heart. With the touch of a button or slide of a lever, visitors can hear the sounds of a heart at exercise or rest, or see how cholesterol chokes off an artery.   

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in South Carolina – and a disease which the Turrentines know too well. Both Newt and Lit died of heart disease, as did their own parents.

“There are numerous worthy causes to support in our community, but heart health and education are of particular interest to me. Our family has experienced the devastating effects of heart disease firsthand. What better way to support the Greenville Community than through the Turrentine Heart Education Center? Information and education about heart health will help everyone take the necessary steps to prevent the advancement of heart disease,” said Sam Turrentine.

Sons Sam and Bill, along with grandchildren Bill Turrentine III, Beth Turrentine Nuckolls, Eugenia Turrentine Waldrop, Sam Turrentine III, and their families, were the catalysts to the center’s creation.

“Our mother and her four brothers had all died from heart attacks or heart disease by the time they reached the age of 69. Heart disease is such a prevalent affliction, not only in our family, but with the population of South Carolina and the United States,” said Bill Turrentine. “What we learn as children sticks with us. Education about eating well, exercising and taking care of our heart is crucial in the prevention of heart disease. We hope the Turrentine Heart Education Center will promote heart healthy living in Greenville County and the surrounding communities.”

A $1 million endowment, now partially funded by Fred J. Collins, Charles and Pam Walters and the Daniel-Mickel Foundation, is included in the overall cost of the center and will help pay for costs associated with the daily operation of the room.

The center will initially open on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. Monday hours will run 12:30 – 5: 30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors or elementary school groups may schedule appointments by calling Lois Hollars at (864) 455-7737. For opportunities to volunteer in the room or for additional information, contact George F. Maynard, III at (864) 797-7730 or gmaynard@ghs.org.