A Medical Director committed to programs that improve community health
Dr. Velma Taormina is the Medical Director of the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctor of Medicine from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She completed residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where she was also an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Why Dr. Taormina was nominated:
- As the Medical Director of the Gaston County Health Department, Dr. Taormina is charged with treating the entire community as her patient. She does this with compassion, leadership and innovation.
- She oversees all of the county’s clinical services at multiple locations, including a high-risk maternity center that delivers over half the children born in Gaston County.
- Dr. Taormina’s work has increased youth access to reproductive health services and contributed greatly to a nearly 50% reduction in teen pregnancies since 2009.
- She oversees the Teen Wellness Program and is a member of the Core Partner Team for Gaston Youth Connected, a program that is reducing the incidence of teen pregnancy.
- She serves as the medical champion for a new STAR (Substance Treatment and Rehabilitation) program, targeting women who are using drugs during their pregnancy.
- She works closely with other practitioners and health departments to help them replicate her efforts across the county and state.
Rarely do you have a medical director who can champion public health issues, provide guidance and leadership to other local practitioners, mobilize community support, and still have time to manage the day-to-day medical services provided by our agency. Dr. T does all these things while continuing to treat all our clients with compassion and individualized care.”
In Dr. Taormina’s own words:
What does being a doctor mean to you?
As a doctor, I am in a unique position to work with people from all walks of life, hear their stories and find ways to help them. It gives me a voice in the community, enabling me to represent those who need a voice and can’t advocate for themselves.”
Can you tell us about your community involvement or volunteer work?
I work with community forums and a local Federally Qualified Health Center to marshal resources for community projects. There are two programs in particular that I am involved with. One is a program to reduce teen pregnancy in Gaston County and I serve as the clinical lead. This program has really produced successful results. The other program is dedicated to decreasing opioid drug-related deaths through a task force working with local law enforcement and other community partners.”
How would you use the award money?
I would contribute to two areas. One is our Teen Action Council. These teens represent all of our middle and high schools and they guide us on adolescent issues in our community. I would also contribute to a GED advocacy program that helps dropouts complete their high school education. In our community we push education hard, encouraging our teens to stay in school. I would target teens and mothers with opioid addictions to help them complete their education. We want to help break the cycle of poverty and help them get on a better path.”