CHARLOTTE – Charlotte Hornets majority owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan got emotional and teared up while speaking to a crowd Oct. 17 outside the newly opened Novant Health clinic bearing his name.
The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Facility, located at 3149 Freedom Drive, is already a hub of activity as staff has treated over 300 patients since it opened three-and-a-half weeks ago.
With 12 patient rooms, the clinic has the power to serve community members that may be uninsured, underinsured or at high risk due to social and economic resources.
“Earlier this year, Novant Health was one of the first healthcare systems recognized for reducing healthcare disparities among Medicare and Medicaid recipients,” Chief Consumer Officer Jesse Cureton said. “We have a strong focus on health equity to ensure families, the community and team members receive high-quality care of services when they need it. In order to thrive, we must have access to affordable healthcare.”
The Michael Jordan Family Medical Facility will be a family physician’s office, but it will also offer more comprehensive care, including social support services and behavioral health.
“On the surface, it’s a primary care clinic,” said Dr. Michael Hoben, Novant Health’s senior executive physician. “Our doctors – Dr. Wilson, Dr. Barnes and Megan – will provide sick care, they’ll provide chronic care management and wellness care, immunization, diabetes and things like that. We know those are all great, but we also know building the space and creating more access isn’t enough to close the health equity gaps.”
Hoben stressed that not being able to have a steady place to stay, transportation or livable conditions makes it nearly impossible to stay healthy, something the new center hopes to address.
The grand opening touched close to home for Jordan, who donated $7 million toward the project in 2017.
“I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community, my mother, my brothers, my daughter, my grandson,” Jordan said as tears started to roll down his face. “We all represent the name Michael Jordan. You see my name, but you see a lot of people behind me being a community that matters.
“As you can see, this is a very emotional thing to me, to give back to a community that has supported me over the years.”
Jordan said Charlotte and North Carolina, in general, is his home, and as the place where he, his mother, daughter and brothers live is a special place. Therefore, giving back isn’t as much a financial commitment to him as it is a trigger of hope and change.
Hoben’s time at the podium included stats of some high-poverty areas within our state.
In those instances, 22% of adults didn’t have a regular source of healthcare, he said. Twenty percent couldn’t afford any healthcare in the first place. Even more alarming based on the lack of affordable healthcare in high-poverty areas, Hoben said, is that one in four residents have at least one chronic disease while one in five has two. Some have more, yet they lack the means to an end.
“A commitment to health equity is inspiring to create that positive change,” said Cureton, who proclaimed himself a proud West Charlotte High grad. “Health equality means reducing disparities on people, regardless of their background and their ability to pay.”
Cureton added that just 4% of the children that are born into poverty-stricken neighborhoods ever get the chance to get out of poverty. He considers himself one of the fortunate ones but thinks the new Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Facility will give others born in his position a chance to work their way out of poverty.
“With efforts like this, someone like me can have an opportunity,” Cureton said, before ending his speech by praising Jordan’s commitment both on the court and to the partnership between himself and Novant Health. Jordan said the partnership began through Novant Health advertising with the Hornets, but has morphed into friendships and the $7 million donation that what both parties said is just the start of things to come.
“Is there anyone who
exemplifies that better than Michael Jordan?,” Cureton asked. “He
doesn’t just seek out to set a goal and then go sit on the bench,
but he works at it tirelessly. And when he achieves a goal, he just
sets the bar higher. That’s how you become one of the
Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, said he is committed to this area and he’s committed to the partnership he’s developed with Novant Health. He vowed this is the tip of the iceberg with another Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Facility opening soon in north Charlotte.
“We are committed to this city, not from a financial, but from the heart of what this city and this state has given to me,” Jordan said. “I can only do this in gratitude. I can’t actually repay what you have given to me, but this is a start.”