This past year proved memorable due to advances in technology, large donations, new leaders and the opening of several clinics across the region. Here are 13 notable milestones in local health care.
Hospital join forces
CHARLOTTE – Carolinas HealthCare System and UNC HealthCare announced plans in August to create one of the leading non-profit health care systems in the nation.
They signed a letter of intent to join their clinical, medical education and research resources.
The new organization will deliver care to people in North Carolina by creating a comprehensive network of primary, specialty and on-demand care.
They’ll focus on four strategic areas: increasing access and affordability, advancing clinical care expertise, growing its academic enterprise and contributing to the region’s economy.
Health systems merge patient records
Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health announced a partnership in June to merge critical patient information, giving providers access to records for patients who see providers at both health systems.
The partnership allows physicians and clinicians to see relevant portions of patients’ electronic medical records regardless of where they receive care. The partnership is a significant step toward reducing readmissions, duplicative work, tests and procedures.
“Sharing records and connecting systems is the next step in the journey to value-based, personalized care for our patients and communities,” said Craig Richardville, chief information and analytics officer for Carolinas HealthCare System.
Systems become familiar with Alexa
Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health allowed patients to use Amazon’s electronic assistant Alexa to locate nearby urgent care and emergency room locations.
“Technology is changing the way we view the world and interact with one another,” said Dave Garrett, senior vice president and chief information officer of Novant Health. “We have continued to invest in emerging technology for our patients and Amazon Alexa is another example of that.”
Mecklenburg hires new health director
Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio announced June 6 that Dr. Marcus Plescia had resigned as public health director, effective Aug. 4.
The resignation came after the health department failed to notify dozens of women about abnormal Pap smear results and a Charlotte Observer story about county health employees unhappy with leadership.
The county hired Alma Harris to replace Plescia. She has served as health director for Wake and Buncombe counties.
“I am confident we can identify and implement the changes necessary to better serve our customers and restore public trust,” Harris said.
Joyner becomes Union County health director
Dennis Joyner joined Union County as division director for public health on Dec. 11.
Joyner served as Stanley County’s health director since 2005. He was the director of the Carolinas Community Health Institute, a health assessment and planning initiative of Carolinas HealthCare System.
His career has focused on various community health initiatives. In all of the career positions, Joyner has been involved in community health planning, program development, community health assessment, grant writing and project management.
He became president of the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors in January.
Novant Health pledges $1.4 million donation
Some 3,660 Novant Health team members pledged $1.4 million to community partners and regional foundations in 2017 through its giving campaign.
The campaign allowed members across markets in a four-state area to join together Sept. 4 to Oct. 29 to make a difference where they work and live. Contributions increased by nearly 30 percent from 2016.
“This team member giving campaign demonstrates to our communities that our mission and our organization matter, and that our team members are invested in the work we do and the work of our community partners,” said Kim Henderson, chief of staff to the CEO.
Partnership leads to new health academy
Union County Public Schools celebrated the opening of the Health Sciences Academy in October at Monroe Middle School.
The academy was made possible through a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System. CHS-Union provided a full-time STEM specialist to help with the curriculum.
Sixth-graders get exposed to neuroscience, seventh graders to sports medicine and eighth-graders to bioengineering. Even Spanish students learn healthcare terms.
Wide range of clinics open
Several unique clinics and services opened throughout the Charlotte region in 2017.
OrthoCarolina opened an orthopedic office in SouthPark area, while Novant Health Providence OB/GYN launched a satellite clinic across from SouthPark mall.
Novant Health Bariatric Solutions introduced a new location in Ballantyne, while Novant Health Rheumatololgy and Arthritis – Ballantyne opened, too.
Novant Health Carmel OB/GYN spawned a satellite clinic in the Arboretum.
Novant Health Charlotte Colon & Rectal Surgery launched a satellite location in Matthews, while OrthoCarolina opened a wellness center in the town. Novant Health Psychiatric Recovery and Counseling brought a substance abuse intensive outpatient program to Matthews.
Novant Health Orthopedic & Sports Medicine opened inside the Mint Hill Medical Office Building, while Novant Health added urgent care through Novant Health Lakeside Family Physicians – Mint Hill.
Novant Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine opened in Monroe.
Gordon’s foundation gives $2M to children’s hospital
The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation established a $2 million endowed chair in support of academic and research efforts at Levine Children’s Hospital, Carolinas HealthCare System announced in October.
The funds created the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer and Blood Disorders. Dr. Javier Oesterheld, specialty medical director at Levine, was named the first chair.
“Gifts like these are remarkable and help our pediatric cancer program thrive as one of the best in the country,” said Gene Woods, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System.
Michael Jordan dishes $7M to Novant Health
Novant Health and Michael Jordan in October announced a $7 million gift to open two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics in Charlotte in at-risk and underserved communities.
The medical clinics, expected to open in late 2020, will provide primary and preventative care to people with little or no health care.
“I am proud to partner with Novant Health to bring critical health services to underserved areas of Charlotte and the thousands of North Carolinians with limited access to health care,” Jordan said.
Operation Walk Carolinas helps Cuban people
A medical team of providers from OrthoCarolina, Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health performed 51 hip and knee replacements in May in Havana, Cuba.
The collaboration, dubbed Operation Walk Carolinas, featured 40 medical providers, including surgeons, internists, physical therapists, nurses and scrub techs. They hope to provide free surgical treatment to patients in developing countries.
The group is heading to do the same thing in March in San Pedro Sula.
Mattei Foundation gives $1M
Carolinas HealthCare System announced Nov. 9 a $1 million commitment from the Mattei Foundation to launch the Mattei Cardiovascular Innovation Fund.
The fund will support the latest in innovative medicine, research, cutting-edge technology and healthcare delivery at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.
The Cardiothoracic Surgery Intensive Care Unit within Sanger was named in honor of the Mattei family. The 14-bed unit provides 24-hour inpatient care to adult and geriatric patients requiring intensive care and recovery from cardiac procedures.
Readers pick their favorites
Readers of Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly, Union County Weekly and South Charlotte Weekly voted for their favorite health-related companies in Charlotte Media Group’s Best of the Weekly awards.
• Best Assisted Living – Blessed Assurance Adult Day Care in Matthews
• Best Chiropractor – Carolinas Chiropractic and Spinal Rehab in Waxhaw
• Best Day Spa – Skin Therapy of Charlotte
• Best Dentist – Ruocco Dental in Waxhaw
• Best Dermatologist – Dr. James Seward of Dermatology Care of Charlotte
• Best Eye Care Provider – Blink Eyecare and Eyewear of Charlotte
• Best General Practitioner – Gwen Perkins of Circle Medical Associates in Monroe
• Best Gym – Anytime Fitness
• Best Hair Salon – Bella Und Guy Salon in Matthews
• Best Hospital – Novant Health Matthews Medical Center
• Best Nail Salon – Echo Nail Spa in Monroe
• Best Veterinarian – Dr. Susan Bonilla, of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw.