Hospital system kills controversial 'Cheat Death' slogan

A North Carolina nonprofit healthcare system's controversial "Cheat Death" tagline appears to be dead in the water following community outcry, including from county commissioners who called a news conference Friday to denounce the slogan.

Gastonia, N.C.-based CaroMont Health announced the "Cheat Death" tagline for its new community wellness initiative Thursday, along with a name change for its flagship Gaston Memorial Hospital, now CaroMont Regional Medical Center. The hospital's previous slogan had been "In Love with Life," the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

CaroMont initially tried to counter the criticism by saying the tagline was being taken out of context, according to a statement from the health system.

"We are not saying we can stop death," CaroMont said Friday in the statement. "What we are saying is that if you take an active part in your own health--being more active, making better nutritional choices, stop smoking--you can live a longer, healthier and ultimately happier life."

But on Saturday, CaroMont CEO Randall L. Kelley emailed Gaston County commissioners saying the organization was "taking a step back" from the tagline, noting its goal to improve community health "cannot be sacrificed for a two-word-tagline," the Gaston Gazette reported.

The next day, CaroMont issued a second statement reiterating it was pulling the tagline.

"Our intent was never to offend or incite," CaroMont said in the statement. "We needed a way to get the issue of health care and the seriousness of the situation on the lips of every man, woman and child in the county," the health system said, adding the controversy "successfully accomplished that goal."

"Gaston County's a very conservative county. It didn't surprise me at all that it didn't go over well," county commissioner and hospital trustee Jason Williams told the Charlotte Observer. He said he has requested a Board of Trustees meeting to discuss a path forward, the newspaper reported.

To learn more:
- read the Charlotte Business Journal article (subscription required)
- here's CaroMont's original announcement and follow-up statement
- read the Gaston Gazette article
- check out the Charlotte Observer article