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5 Things To Know: Atrium Health Announces Blockbuster Merger

...and four more stories from May 8-14, 2022

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Atrium Health
Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of Atrium Health)

Atrium Health Announces Advocate Aurora Merger

Atrium Health announced Wednesday that it will merge with Midwestern health-care company Advocate Aurora Health to create Advocate Health, doubling the size of each respective company to become the fifth largest health-care organization in the country. 

While local facilities will keep the Atrium Health branding, altogether Aurora will run 67 hospitals across six states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois and Wisconsin. The new organization, which will be headquartered in Charlotte, will serve 5.5 million patients, operate more than 1,000 sites of care, employ more than 7,600 physicians and nearly 150,000 teammates, and have combined annual revenues of more than $27 billion.

News of the merger came with a pledge to invest $2 billion in “disrupting the root causes of health inequities across both rural and urban underserved communities,” a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and a pledge to create more than 20,000 new jobs across the communities Advocate Health serves. 

“The world of health care as we know it is changing at warp speed — and it is rapidly becoming more digital, personalized, scientific and complex,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “This strategic combination will enable us to deepen our commitments to health equity; create more jobs and opportunities for our teammates and communities; launch new, game-changing innovations; and so much more. Together, we will manifest a new future that significantly elevates the care we provide to every hand we hold and every life we touch.”

A board of directors comprising an equal number of members from Advocate Aurora and Atrium will govern the enterprise. Edward J. Brown III, current chair of Atrium Health’s board of directors, will chair the newly formed board until December 31, 2023, when Michele Richardson, current chair of Advocate Aurora Health’s board, will assume leadership for a succeeding two-year term.

Current Advocate Aurora President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh will serve as co-CEO alongside Woods for the first 18 months, at which point Skogsbergh will retire and Woods will become sole CEO.


Voting to Begin on County’s Participatory Budgeting Projects

Beginning Monday, residents will be able to vote on funding for Mecklenburg County projects that were pitched by residents across the county. The voting is part of PB Meck — or Participatory Budgeting — which allows residents to determine how to best address the needs of their communities by turning ideas into actual project proposals and voting on which projects to fund, with winning projects being funded by the county.

Twelve Mile Creek Bridge Carolina Thread Trail, participatory budgeting
Twelve Mile Creek Greenway. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Since November 2021, community volunteers representing each county commission district have worked with residents to identify projects. Funding will be divided evenly among the districts. Residents across the county offered ideas, which were vetted by county staff to create the ballots. Winning proposals will be funded with the expectation that all projects will be completed within 18 months.

From May 16 to June 24, residents can cast their votes for a slate of projects in their district. They have the option to vote online or in person at a variety of locations. The website includes a tool to help residents confirm which district they live in.


Truck Driver Cited After Crashing into School Bus

New details surfaced Thursday about a school bus crash that injured 17 people on Wednesday morning. A police report released Thursday showed that CMPD issued a citation to the dump truck driver who started the wreck, as they believe he fell asleep at the wheel before crossing the center line, hitting a sedan then striking the school bus.

The scene of a collision between a dump truck, school bus and sedan on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of WCCB Charlotte)

All three vehicles in the wreck were destroyed. Sixteen people were taken to the hospital for injuries related to the crash, including 14 students who were on the bus, all of whom suffered minor injuries. All students have since been treated and released. The drivers of the dump truck and school bus both suffered minor injuries, while the sedan driver came out of the wreck relatively unscathed.

It’s believed the dump truck was going about 55 mph at the time of the collision, which occurred in a 35-mph zone. The truck driver was cited for driving left of center, according to a CMPD report. 


Gov. Cooper Releases Proposed State Budget

A proposed state spending plan that Gov. Roy Cooper released on Wednesday makes another push for Medicaid expansion while also recommending a $45 million investment into North Carolina’s health-care workforce, as reported by NC Health News

Cooper put forward a $29.3 billion budget, nearly $2.3 billion more than initially planned for in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly revised its Revenue Consensus Forecast upward earlier this week to show that collections over the past year totaled $4.2 billion more than predicted.

“Families have returned to their lives of work and school after tremendous challenges but find that they still struggle to find affordable health care and childcare,” Cooper stated in a release. “North Carolina is emerging from the pandemic stronger than before, and we will sustain that only if we invest in a strong foundation for our people: a quality education, good jobs and infrastructure, and access to affordable healthcare. Let’s use this historic opportunity to give families, businesses and communities the tools they need to thrive.”

Part of the budget’s plan to build safer communities includes funding evidence-based interventions and recidivism reduction programs. The budget would provide grants to fund body-worn cameras for local law enforcement ($10 million), gun locks for the public to be distributed by sheriffs’ offices ($1 million) and gun storage education. It also includes additional funding for equipment for state troopers and community corrections officers.


Unidentified Man Murdered in Enderly Park

Two men fell victim to gun violence in Charlotte this week, bringing the total number of homicides in the city in 2022 to 29. The first murder came just minutes into the week. 

 

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on Deep Rock Circle in the Granite Point Apartment Homes in southwest Charlotte’s Montclaire South neighborhood, where they found 29-year-old Maurice Paige Jr. suffering from a gunshot wound. Paige was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Then around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, police responded to a shooting call on Avalon Avenue in west Charlotte’s Enderly Park neighborhood, where they found 26-year-old Daquarius Malik Jackson suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 


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