Atrium Health Creates COVID-Safe Environment for First Motorsports Race in North Carolina

05.22.2020 Atrium Health News

CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 22, 2020 – As the world of professional sports considers how to resume operations, the burning question is: “Can we do it safely?” Atrium Health is answering that question with an emphatic “YES!” by working in partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway to create a COVID-Safe environment for four live competition NASCAR races, beginning Sunday, May 24, with the historic Coca-Cola 600. Additional NASCAR races will take place the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Atrium Health will deploy members of its Sports and Events Medicine team to provide screening for fevers and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for drivers, support team personnel, members of the media and others who will be working at the events. The process is designed to help prevent someone who is contagious from entering the facility while maintaining the highest standards of care for all race events. Due to coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, no spectators will be allowed at the races.  

“In many ways, North Carolina has been a model of success in combatting COVID-19 and the social distancing directives in our state have successfully slowed the spread,” said Brian Middleton, vice president of Atrium Health’s Musculoskeletal Institute, which is the system’s primary sports medicine provider. “As we look for ways to return to normalcy, having ‘race day’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway happen over Memorial Day weekend is a sign of hope and a sign of healing. At Atrium Health, we’re proud to be able to help create an environment that helps protect the health of all those taking part in this incredible event.” 

Sunday’s race also marks the debut of Atrium Health’s new, state-of-the-art MED-1 mobile hospital. MED-1 is a one-of-a-kind emergency room on wheels. Atrium Health already has a fully-functional hospital facility constructed in the infield of Charlotte Motor Speedway which is open and staffed during NASCAR events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, MED-1 will be onsite to maintain a COVID-Safe environment for anyone who may need treatment during the races. 

New, one-of-a-kind MED-1 mobile hospital gets its first deployment at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Coca-Cola 600

“When we talk about being COVID-Safe, it defines Atrium Health’s commitment to identify and isolate people who may potentially have COVID-19. That means housing and treating COVID-positive patients in separate areas, treating them with separate staff, all with the ultimate goal of protecting others from exposure,” said Katie Kaney, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Atrium Health, who oversees the system’s Mobile Medicine division. “Having MED-1 onsite will give us dual treatment facilities, enabling us to maintain appropriate social distancing between those seeking any type of treatment during a race and the capability of completely isolating someone who has an onset of symptoms, while still being able to provide them with whatever emergency care they may need.” 

“Providing these types of capabilities, Atrium Health is truly leading the way forward in terms of our ability to host our racing schedule,” said Greg Walter, executive vice president and general manager for Charlotte Motor Speedway. “In this pandemic environment, we are relying on their medical expertise and their trained medical staff to help guide us during this unprecedented time, because nothing is more important to us than protecting the health and safety of the drivers, team members and support staff taking part in our events.”  

Atrium Health owns a patent on the design and the new MED-1 is the second mobile hospital in Atrium Health’s fleet. It features innovative upgrades from the original MED-1, which is currently deployed to a hospital in Georgia to assist with additional emergency room capabilities. Each MED-1 mobile hospital consists of up to 14 acute care beds, a 2-bed operating room, digital X-ray capabilities, ultrasounds, an on-site lab, a pharmacy and other essential emergency department necessities.  

The MED-1 mobile hospital program was born at Atrium Health more than 20 years ago, with its invention, followed by its first-ever venture for Hurricane Katrina support in 2005. Use of a mobile hospital can be called into duty at any time by FEMA to assist in disaster response. It is frequently used to support medical needs at major civic and sporting venues, including the PGA, the World Equestrian Games and national political conventions, such as the 2012 Democratic National Convention, in Charlotte, and the upcoming 2020 Republican National Convention scheduled for later this summer. 

MED-1 is designed to deploy within 12 hours, can be fully operational within 45 minutes of arrival and is self-sustaining for 72-hours. For a full deployment, into a disaster zone for example, it may travel with a fleet of nearly a dozen vehicles including the emergency department, the supply truck, a satellite trailer and other support vehicles. It is typically staffed by Atrium Health teammates including physicians, nurses, medical technicians and support staff who provide expert patient care at a level that is expected in any emergency department.  

The Atrium Health Mobile Medicine team is also responsible for the MedCenter Air ambulance helicopter stationed on the infield during races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, providing immediate emergency transport capabilities to Atrium Health’s Carolina’s Medical Center, the region’s only Level I Trauma Center.  

Atrium Health is the official healthcare provider for Charlotte Motor Speedway. Throughout the pandemic, Atrium Health and the Charlotte Motor Speedway have partnered to protect the health of the communities they serve, including setting up a remote, drive-through Coronavirus Testing Center at the zMax Dragway on the speedway grounds. This provides convenient access to testing for patients who have been referred by their medical provider, with results typically returned in less than 24 hours by Atrium Health’s in-house laboratory. 

Learn more about Atrium Health's second MED-1. 

About Atrium Health: 

Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health is an integrated network not-for-profit healthcare system with over 70,000 teammates at nearly 40 hospitals and 900 care locations. With locations throughout the Carolinas as well as Georgia, Atrium Health is a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine. It provides top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care to patients, as well as specialized musculoskeletal programs and organ transplants. Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals in seven different specialties, it has also received the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality Prize. Its flagship hospital, Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center, is the region’s only Level I trauma center and is consistently rated among the nation’s best. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all. Last year alone, Atrium Health provided more than $2.07 billion in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.