Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation Opening the David L. Conlan Center; Will Treat the Area’s Most Complex Injuries and Illness

01.13.2023 Atrium Health News

Opening marks the first step in modernizing the health system’s flagship campus 

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 13, 2023 – Atrium Health is opening the David L. Conlan Center at Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation on Saturday, Jan. 14. Carolinas Rehabilitation is nationally known as a U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospital,” which specializes in innovative, personalized therapy for common to complex conditions due to injury or illness.

The new David L. Conlan Center replaces a structure constructed in 1950. When it opens, it will feature 72 patient rooms, private treatment spaces, a therapy garden and 16,000 square feet of inpatient and outpatient therapy space. The project broke ground in September 2020, marking the first step in the modernization of the Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center campus.

“We have been pioneers in rehabilitation throughout our 72 years serving the Charlotte region and beyond,” said Robert Larrison, enterprise group vice president for the Atrium Health Rehabilitation Network and president for Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation. “We have established a standard of excellence that is recognized as being among the best in the nation. The care we provide in the new David L. Conlan Center at Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation can be even better, ensuring the highest-quality care for our patients for decades to come.”

A generous $30 million gift from Howard C. “Smoky” Bissell, his wife Margaret and Bissell Ballantyne was given to Atrium Health to honor the life of David L. Conlan. Conlan was a longtime friend, colleague and trusted advisor of Bissell, as well as a partner of the Bissell family until his passing in August 2021.

“Excellence was honored by David in all he did,” said Smoky Bissell.  “For Margaret and me to be able to honor him with his name being associated with this state-of-the-art rehabilitation center is an opportunity we are excited to be able to be a part of.”

In addition to naming the David L. Conlan Center, the Bissell gift will be used to advance the reach, geography and efficacy of existing and future rehabilitation services and programs offered by Carolinas Rehabilitation, which currently encompasses five inpatient hospitals and 18 outpatient locations.

The new rehabilitation hospital will feature many unique services, such as certified programs for spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and cancer. Also, under the rehabilitation umbrella – The physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic treats patients with a variety of needs and offers an OB-GYN clinic for people who regularly use wheelchairs. The Adaptive Sports and Adventure Program is a one-of-a-kind resource for the region, offering new ways for people with mobility impairments to enjoy tennis, kayaking, rugby and more.

“I would like to thank our construction and trade partners who worked through unprecedented challenges over the past three years to get this project completed on time and on budget,” said Collin Lane, senior vice president of the facilities management group for Atrium Health. “This project is the first major step in the larger Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center campus modernization project and has set the stage for what is still to come in the years ahead.”

The existing Carolinas Rehabilitation building will be demolished in the weeks ahead, along with the Blythe parking deck adjacent to Carolinas Medical Center. In its place, Atrium Health has announced plans to construct a new 12-story bed tower with upgraded amenities. It is currently slated to open in 2027.

Carolinas Rehabilitation first opened in 1970 as a 34-bed hospital to help children with handicaps. The hospital was the first in the region to admit children of all races and backgrounds. In 1956, the hospital doubled in size and, in 1957, it began admitting adults and added outpatient services.

In 1961, the hospital began integrating medical staff, with the addition of Dr. Charles Warren Williams and Dr. Emery L. Rann. Later that year, it merged with The Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority. In 1963 a tunnel was added to connect it with Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center.

In 1975, Carolinas Rehabilitation became one of the first physical medicine and rehabilitation residency programs in the country.

In addition to being a U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospital,” Carolinas Rehabilitation is an American Hospitals Association Quest for Quality Award winner and a Newsweek “Best Rehabilitation Hospital” in North Carolina.

Carolinas Rehabilitation admits more than 3,600 patients with life altering injuries and diseases. The physician and therapy clinics have over 250,000 patient visits in all subspecialty areas. The hospital is an integral part of all Atrium Health world class service lines, including Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute, Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and the Atrium Health Neuroscience Institute.