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By Addison May, MD, MBA, FACS

Addison MayAfter 17 years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, I joined Atrium Health because of the tremendous potential to influence care for critically ill and injured surgical patients across the region.

As soon as I arrived here, I was amazed by the way our team collaborates to treat complex patients, incorporates advanced technology, and uses our data infrastructure to accelerate integration and improve outcomes. My goal is to build on this foundation by uncovering new ways to integrate locations, standardize care and expand our footprint so we can help even more patients get back to happy, healthy lives.

Here are 5 ways we’re elevating care:

1. Seamless Collaboration
The best care isn’t just fast and technologically advanced – it’s agile and collaborative. That’s why it’s so thrilling and gratifying to see how our team works together at every level.

This starts with EMS providers who rapidly, effectively stabilize and transport patients to our Level I trauma center. Then, our team of providers, including acute care surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, trauma nurses, radiologists and anesthesiologists, collaborate to rapidly identify injuries, stabilize the patient and provide complex treatment. This teamwork continues through in-hospital recovery and rehabilitation, giving patients the best chance to get back on their feet.

2. Bringing Surgical Intensivists into the Virtual ICU
Atrium Health’s virtual ICU system provides “eyes and ears” to support critical care management in ICUs throughout the region. We’re raising the bar even higher by pioneering the introduction of acute care surgeons in the virtual ICU system.

This enhances communication with local surgeons and allows consultative input from surgical intensivists. It also enables faster recognition of clinical setbacks and earlier definitive therapy to improve outcomes. What’s more, this approach will enable us to boost the capabilities of smaller hospitals, so they can provide care to patients closer to their homes and families.

3. Using Data Science to Advance the Value of Care
We’re using advanced data systems to take on one of medicine’s biggest challenges: increasing the value of care.

Electronic medical records capture every test, drug and procedure for every patient. We analyze this data to identify approaches that lead to better outcomes at lower costs. This helps us find the most cost-effective treatment strategies and fuels a treatment-analysis-improvement cycle that constantly yields better, more affordable care.

4. Cutting-Edge Technologies and Techniques
When it comes to caring for critically ill and injured surgical patients, the pace of change accelerates each year. To maintain excellence, we embrace innovative technologies and techniques including:

  • Advanced ventilator strategies and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to support the sickest patients during critical illness.
  • Bedside ultrasound, transesophageal echocardiography and bedside surgical intervention. These enable us to more effectively manage, diagnose and treat critically ill patients without transporting them from the ICU.
  • Minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopic abdominal exploration and repair in trauma, lysis of adhesions in small bowel obstruction, and thoracoscopic intervention for acute chest conditions. These procedures accelerate recovery and reduce long-term complications.

5. Amazing Recoveries
Not long ago, a patient came to us after a car accident, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury and other life-threatening issues. Our remarkable team helped her get back to being a normal mom. Stories like this inspired us to launch our Great Saves Program, which uses “before and after” stories to remind patients, family members and providers that amazing recoveries are possible.

To learn more about how our program is elevating care, contact Dr. Addison May at

About Dr. May

Addison May, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCM, is chief of acute care surgery at Atrium Health. Dr. May was previously Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s director of surgical critical care and program director for its acute care surgery fellowship program. He has authored over 200 publications; leads research on critical illness, surgical infections and trauma; and was awarded the Barry Shapiro Memorial Award for Excellence in Critical Care by the American College of Critical Care. He currently serves as president of the Surgical Infection Society and has been an associate editor for the journal Surgical Infections since 2014.