BALTIMORE — Ten years ago, St. Agnes Hospital created Red Dress Sunday, an innovative, faith-based health education program designed by the hospital to raise awareness of the devastating effects of heart disease among women.
On Sunday, February 9, 2014, St. Agnes Hospital is partnering with congregations across Baltimore to again offer Red Dress Sunday.
More than 130 local churches will participate in this year’s effort, giving thousands of women, who will dress in red to symbolize their commitment to obtain information and tools needed to understand and minimize their risks.
Bethel AME Church located at 1300 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore, is the official church for this year’s Red Dress Sunday activities. The event will include a VIP Reception from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; Sunday Service from 9:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; and a health fair from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Rev. Dr. Frank Madison Reid III is pastor.
United States Senator Ben Cardin and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will bring opening remarks. The keynote speakers include Shannon Winakur, MD, medical director of the Women’s Heart Center at St. Agnes Hospital; Carlos Ince MD, the hospital’s chief of cardiology; and Georgetta Thomas, a member of the congregation who has a personal story of success and inspiration to share with her fellow congregants.
Bethel’s Owings Mills location at 10989 Red Run Blvd #210 will also be hosting an event beginning with their 12:15 p.m. service.
“This is the tenth year for Red Dress Sunday,” said Dr. Winakur. “However, we still have a long way to go. Heart disease is still the number one killer in this country. In one survey, only 35 percent of African American women knew that heart disease was the number one killer. Most thought it was cancer. We are going to continue to do this, and reach out to women to help them realize they have to take care of their heart.”
Red Dress Sunday is among the programs and initiatives sponsored by St. Agnes Hospital to combat heart disease.
“We will continue to work until we knock out heart disease as the number one killer in this country,” said Dr. Winakur. “We encourage all congregations to wear red on February 9 to increase awareness.”
St. Agnes Hospital, which is located at 900 Caton Avenue in Baltimore, is also home to the Cardiovascular Institute, a state-of-the-art facility that provides comprehensive treatment.
Officials at St. Agnes believe that many women don’t recognize the threat of heart disease. “There are so many misconceptions about heart disease,” said Dr. Winakur. “Many women think that it’s a male or older male’s disease, and that just isn’t true.”
Georgia Chapman echoed that sentiment. In May 2012, she suffered a heart attack. According to Chapman, a steady diet of foods that included fried food and fast food, along with stress and a lack of exercise, played a major part in the heart attack.
“I want to make sure the message is getting out to women,” said Chapman. “Heart disease isn’t just a man’s disease any more. The roles of women have changed. Many women once stayed home and took care of the children and house, while the husband worked. Nowadays, we are taking care of the family, working two and three jobs and handling other responsibilities.”
Chapman, who was treated at St. Agnes added, “I know because it hit me. Women are having heart attacks due to everyday stress and bad eating habits. It’s killing us. Nowadays, if the woman gets sick, the whole house will fall. We have to take better care of ourselves.”
Chapman, 56, will be speaking at the Red Dress Sunday event at Mt. Olive Holy Evangelistic Church located at 3816 Edmondson Avenue in Baltimore where Bishop Raynor C. Wharton, Sr. serves as pastor.
“There is no excuse,” said Chapman. “I know what I am supposed to eat and what I am not supposed to eat. I also give my stress over to God. The heart is on the inside, and when it is gone, that’s it. Through this Red Dress event, I want to reach out to other women to stop heart disease. That’s my mission.”
For more information about St. Agnes’ Red Dress Sunday and other events and programs aimed at combating heart disease, visit www.stagnes.org.