Living Here Guide

In Charlotte, it’s a tale of two hospitals

Carolinas Medical Center.
Carolinas Medical Center. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s healthcare sector is a major local employer, thanks in no small part to two big and competitive providers: Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health. Combined, they own dozens of hospitals as well as hundreds of doctors’ practices and other facilities across the Charlotte metropolitan area and multiple states.

Carolinas HealthCare, based in Charlotte, is a public nonprofit and the largest hospital group in the region. Winston-Salem-based Novant, the region’s second-largest hospital group, is a private nonprofit.

For both systems, their Charlotte flagship hospitals sit just outside of uptown: Dilworth is home to Carolinas HealthCare’s Carolinas Medical Center, while Novant’s Presbyterian Medical Center is just about a mile away, in the Elizabeth neighborhood.

Charlotte Memorial Hospital, now called Carolinas Medical Center, opened on Oct. 7, 1940, at its current site after St. Peter’s Hospital closed at Sixth and Poplar streets. CMC offers the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, where accident victims often arrive via medical helicopter. Surgeons at CMC performed Charlotte’s first kidney transplant in 1970, followed by heart transplants in 1986.

Presbyterian originally opened in 1903 as a 20-bed hospital on North Church Street in uptown. Today, it has 7,000 employees and more than 700 physicians. This year, Presbyterian became the first hospital in the Charlotte area to earn the designation of comprehensive stroke center.

All told, Carolinas HealthCare has 18 hospitals in Charlotte and surrounding counties; Novant, six.

The two systems also account for tens of thousands of jobs across the region and are expanding their operations with major construction projects currently underway.

Novant is building Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. Projected costs of the new hospital, near the intersection of Interstate 485 and Albemarle Road, are $80 million. The 150,000-square-foot facility is expected to feature a roughly 16-bed emergency department, among other things.

Carolinas HealthCare has begun a $150 million expansion project for Levine Cancer Institute on Morehead Street. Expected to open in the fall of 2018, the project will include a seven-story, 260,000 square-foot building adjacent to the institute’s original six-story building.

Before that, the last major facilities Carolinas HealthCare opened in the Charlotte region were a 15-bed hospital in Anson County and Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Center in Davidson. Both opened in 2014.

The last hospital Novant built was Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, which opened in 2004. The roughly 91-bed community hospital’s services include emergency, maternity, surgery, pediatrics, cancer and outpatient care.

Carolinas HealthCare recently completed a transition in leadership, the first in 14 years. Michael Tarwater, who had been with the system for 35 years, retired at the end of June 2016 after serving as chief executive officer since 2002.

His successor is Gene Woods, who has more than 30 years of healthcare experience, most recently as chief operating officer of CHRISTUS Health in Irving, Texas, a nonprofit, Catholic system with more than 60 hospitals and long-term care facilities. Woods becomes the third CEO of Carolinas HealthCare.

Novant CEO Carl Armato succeeded Paul Wiles, who retired at the end of 2011. Armato was previously chief operating officer for Novant.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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