CHARLOTTE, N.C., (News Release) – Atrium Health is working in partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway to create a COVID-Safe environment for four live competition NASCAR races, beginning Sunday, May 24, with the historic Coca-Cola 600. Additional NASCAR races will take place the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. Atrium Health will deploy members of its Sports and Events Medicine team to provide screening for fevers and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for drivers, support team personnel, members of the media, and others who will be working at the events. The process is designed to help prevent someone who is contagious from entering the facility while maintaining the highest standards of care for all race events. Due to coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, no spectators will be allowed at the races.
“In many ways, North Carolina has been a model of success in combatting COVID-19 and the social distancing directives in our state have successfully slowed the spread,” said Brian Middleton, vice president of Atrium Health’s Musculoskeletal Institute, which is the system’s primary sports medicine provider. “As we look for ways to return to normalcy, having ‘race day’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway happen over Memorial Day weekend is a sign of hope and a sign of healing. At Atrium Health, we’re proud to be able to help create an environment that helps protect the health of all those taking part in this incredible event.”
Sunday’s race also marks the debut of Atrium Health’s new, state-of-the-art MED-1 mobile hospital. MED-1 is a one-of-a-kind emergency room on wheels. Atrium Health already has a fully-functional hospital facility constructed in the infield of Charlotte Motor Speedway which is open and staffed during NASCAR events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, MED-1 will be onsite to maintain a COVID-Safe environment for anyone who may need treatment during the races.
“When we talk about being COVID-Safe, it defines Atrium Health’s commitment to identify and isolate people who may potentially have COVID-19. That means housing and treating COVID-positive patients in separate areas, treating them with separate staff, all with the ultimate goal of protecting others from exposure,” said Katie Kaney, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Atrium Health, who oversees the system’s Mobile Medicine division. “Having MED-1 onsite will give us dual treatment facilities, enabling us to maintain appropriate social distancing between those seeking any type of treatment during a race and the capability of completely isolating someone who has an onset of symptoms, while still being able to provide them with whatever emergency care they may need.”
“Providing these types of capabilities, Atrium Health is truly leading the way forward in terms of our ability to host our racing schedule,” said Greg Walter, executive vice president, and general manager for Charlotte Motor Speedway. “In this pandemic environment, we are relying on their medical expertise and their trained medical staff to help guide us during this unprecedented time, because nothing is more important to us than protecting the health and safety of the drivers, team members and support staff taking part in our events.”
The new MED-1 is the second mobile hospital in Atrium Health’s fleet, featuring innovative upgrades from the original. Each MED-1 mobile hospital consists of up to 14 acute care beds, a 2-bed operating room, digital X-ray capabilities, ultrasounds, an on-site lab, a pharmacy, and other essential emergency department necessities.
Throughout the pandemic, Atrium Health and the Charlotte Motor Speedway have partnered to protect the health of the communities they serve, including setting up a remote, drive-through Coronavirus Testing Center at the zMax Dragway on the speedway grounds. This provides convenient access to testing for patients who have been referred by their medical provider, with results typically returned in less than 24 hours by Atrium Health’s in-house laboratory.