Atrium Health Together, we rise FOR ALL, bringing Health Equity, Social Justice and Change to Everyone

by Savoy Staff

By Eugene A. Woods, President & CEO, Atrium Health

In this lifetime, few have experienced a year quite like 2020. A year marked by a global pandemic, a social justice awakening and an economic downturn. Yet, despite the uncertainty and constant change, from the very beginning, at Atrium Health, we placed our focus on our people – patients, teammates and community members alike – who make up the very core of our mission: to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – FOR ALL.

And it’s their stories that make me truly proud of the work we have accomplished to support those in their greatest times of need and form the resilience required to shape the future of healthcare.

When I reflect upon our COVID-19 journey, I think of community members like Samuel, who was treated at one of our 65 coronavirus testing sites. Through hot spotting with our Geographic Information System, we were able to identify communities of color with high concentrations of cases and deploy mobile medical units to those areas. Yet, what makes Samuel’s story stand out, was that, upon arriving at our testing site, we learned that he was homeless. So, while awaiting his testing results, Atrium Health provided him temporary housing. One of our nursing teammates, Eileen, also gave Samuel clothes, donated by her husband, to keep him warm. Understanding that access to care is only part of the equation to eliminate healthcare disparities, through our roving testing model, we were able to close the testing gap for African Americans and Hispanics and address other social determinants, like housing and food insecurity.

We also established our Para Tu Salud campaign to ensure culturally responsive messaging about COVID-19 for our Hispanic neighbors. And by creating new partnerships with private and community organizations, we launched our 
Million Mask Initiative, and distributed over 2 million 
face masks throughout our region, including 
over 500,000 in underserved communities.

Amidst our commitment to addressing healthcare disparities and fostering a sense of community during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to acknowledge that vulnerable populations, such as the elderly in nursing homes, continue to face challenges. While our efforts have been significant in reaching communities of color and mitigating the impact of the virus, it is disheartening to recognize that some individuals, particularly the elderly, may experience nursing home abuse. Instances of mistreatment in care facilities demand our attention and advocacy for those who cannot speak for themselves.

If you or a loved one has concerns about nursing home abuse, seeking legal assistance is essential. A nursing home abuse lawyer can provide the support needed to navigate through these difficult situations. They possess the expertise to assess cases of neglect, physical or emotional abuse, and take appropriate legal action. At Atrium Health, we understand the importance of ensuring the well-being of all individuals, including those in nursing homes. If you believe that you have witnessed or experienced nursing home abuse, consider reaching out to a dedicated advocate for guidance. For more information on nursing home abuse and legal recourse, please visit In our ongoing commitment to fostering a healthier and more just society, addressing these issues is an integral part of our collective journey towards true equity and compassion.

And we did not stop there.

Several events in 2020 also brought forth issues of racial injustice that have long existed. And for me, personally, they evoked painful memories from discriminatory moments that I’ve experienced as a person of color. In fact, it’s why I selected healthcare as a career – to create solutions that reduce health disparities and structural injustice. So, as an organization, we engaged our 70,000 teammates in healing during a time of emotional unrest by elevating our Courageous Conversations program and inviting them to participate in meaningful dialogue. Not only were our teammates able to speak their truth, they found comfort, support and hope in their Atrium Health family. In fact, one of our teammates, Quinn, shared that, following the death of Georgia Floyd, she was too anxious to go to work and had to call out sick for three days. Yet, after participating in our Courageous Conversations, Quinn stated: “I felt proud, I felt validated, I felt heard… it gave me the energy I needed to keep going.”

We also paused to celebrate our differences and backgrounds by giving our teammates an opportunity to bring their whole selves to work through our Atrium Health Has Talent competition. During this virtual event, the unique personalities and talents of our teammates shined brightly, bringing smiles to faces and special moments of shared joy, despite being socially distant.

So, as we look to the future, we are now charting a path for accountability. We are shifting the landscape to allow us new opportunities to re-think, re-shape and re-form the ways we care. And we are building on the incredible work achieved in 2020 to touch every corner of the community and bring health equity, social justice and change to everyone. Because, at the end of the day, our neighbors, our communities, our state and our country are depending on organizations like ours and all eyes are on us. Together, we must rise FOR ALL.


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