Carolinas Medical Center

News | 19 days ago

Charlotte Strong

In a tragedy, Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center became a center of hope and healing. When eight law enforcement officers were shot, the hospital received the most seriously injured. As a Level I trauma center, teammates are prepared to respond to mass casualty events. But as leaders told the Atrium Health Board of Commissioners, this was different. Law enforcement officers are like family.

On April 29, 2024, an armed suspect opened fire on law enforcement officers in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eight officers were shot – four of them died. In the hours, days and weeks that followed, the community came together in support of the law enforcement agencies, their officers and families.

It was a unifying moment for a tragic event that unified a city. 

For Atrium Health teammates who cared for injured officers and even those who were not directly involved in their care, the events that unfolded that day hit close to home. 

“The caregivers and the officers are like family and this hits them really hard,” said Eugene Woods, CEO of Advocate Health, hours after the tragedy. “We have committed to the families that even after they leave our walls that we will be there to support them.” 

As the area’s only Level I trauma center, Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center is where people with the most serious injuries are treated. In this case, law enforcement officers were transported there by other first responders on roads their colleagues had shut down to create a faster route to the hospital. 

Ken Haynes, President of the Southeast Region of Advocate Health, which encompasses the entire footprint of Atrium Health, spent that afternoon and evening at Carolinas Medical Center, supporting teammates, first responders and families. 

At the second quarter meeting of the Atrium Health Board of Commissioners on May 14, Haynes began his presentation to the board by honoring the fallen officers.

“I feel a tug at the heart of who we are as an organization to take a moment of reflection relative to what’s taken place in our community,” Haynes said. “We’re so connected to these individuals.” 

Haynes then invited Dr. Michael Gibbs, head of the emergency department at Carolinas Medical Center, to discuss the team’s readiness and responsiveness that day.

Gibbs explained that the teams at Carolinas Medical Center are prepared to handle traumatic events with multiple victims, but on this day, things were different.

“We often will have multiple shootings arrive at the same time,” Gibbs said, “but the fact that we had so many patients arrive within a half hour is uncommon. The response from all who were called to the bedside was heroic.

Gibbs reflected on the emotional procession that followed as first responders honored their own, in an escort from the hospital

Despite the tragedy of the event, the fact that we were able to be a part of such an incredible response by our community to do our best to save and protect these officers was really something quite amazing and like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Gibbs said. 

He also thanked the board for its support of Carolinas Medical Center. 

“This is why we’re here,” Gibbs said. “We’re prepared and ready. And the opportunity to respond on that particular afternoon was something that we see as an incredible privilege.”

Haynes echoed Gibbs’s thoughts, thanking Gibbs and teammates for their response on that tragic day while also extending a special thank you to our law enforcement community. 

“We’re proud to be able to be that piece of the puzzle but it was a tough day for our team,” Haynes said. “They’re resilient and we’re very proud.” 

In other updates, Haynes told the board how the pediatric emergency care team launched an enterprise level assessment to verify all of Advocate Health’s emergency departments are prepared to handle critically ill and injured children. 

Meanwhile, Haynes told the board The Pearl innovation district is on track to open Phase IA, which includes the Center for Education, Research Building and home of IRCAD North America and exterior plaza in June 2025. 

Haynes also gave updates on Advocate Health’s integration, including more than $88 million in net new synergies in the first quarter, bringing the total overall realized synergy for the integration to $356.2 million from more than 960 initiatives that have either been completed or are currently operational.