Timely preparation and a fortuitous meeting with Charlotte, N.C. police leadership, had Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center as ready as could be expected for the civil unrest and protests that rocked the city this month.
The hospital and medical offices of parent Novant Health in the city have not lost patient volumes or suffered employee absence because of the protests, said Paula Vincent, president of the medical center.
Charlotte has seen frequent protests since the Sept. 20 shooting death by Charlotte police of Keith Lamont Scott during an arrest attempt. A Charlotte police investigation found that Scott had a gun and had ignored police warnings for him to drop it.
Novant Health Presbyterian, the city's only Level 3 trauma center, has a command center in contact with Charlotte police and authorities to route physicians and employees around possible trouble spots, said Novant Health Public Safety Director Kip Clark.
Management is actively hearing employees' individual and collective safety concerns and angst caused by the shooting and unrest, said Tanya Blackmon, Novant Health's chief diversity and inclusion officer.
The hospital treated and released two police officers injured during violent protests that broke out the first two nights after the Scott shooting.
The system held an internal web chat Thursday for all employees moderated by Blackmon that allowed employees to share their concerns anonymously if they wished with management and each other. Novant Health CEO Carl Armato personally invited employees to participate in a memo.
“The recent fatal shooting of an African-American man in Charlotte and subsequent protests affect us all, even those outside of the greater Charlotte market. We want to ensure that Novant Health creates a safe space for you to connect with each other,” Armato wrote.
Charlotte-based Novant Health held a similar webcast after 49 people were murdered at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. In June. Blackmon said about 200 people logged into that webcast, but many of those participating were part of bigger groups of employees.
Vincent said Novant Health Presbyterian has beefed up emergency department staffing by about 25% since the troubles started in Charlotte, with increased numbers of physicians and staff on call. Clark said hospital security has doubled. Neither executive would give total headcounts.
In response to the Charlotte unrest, management also has asked chaplains to fan out and meet with employees and offered the system's employee assistance plan to any interested employee.
Blackmon said Novant Health has enhanced employee training on diversity and inclusion since she joined the system about a year ago.
She said she visited the system's 14 hospitals on a “listening tour” to hear how employees felt about diversity efforts at Novant Health. Since then, the system has continued one- and two-hour training sessions with employees to share results from the tour and stress inclusion, Blackmon said.
As part of community outreach, Blackmon and other executives from Novant Health met with the leadership of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, including Chief Kerr Putney, just days before the police shooting and protests, she said.
At the time, the parties talked about working together to take Novant Health's Community Care Cruiser, a 40-foot mobile medical office, into the community, Blackmon said.
When trouble started days later, “We had established a relationship,” she said.