Hometown heroes and NASCAR adventures

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Michelle Fortune

Healthcare Umbrella

Dale Earnhardt once said, “The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car; it’s the one who refuses to lose.” While you may think NASCAR and healthcare don’t have much in common, this quote seems appropriate today for several reasons.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To begin with, there has been a race in healthcare to learn Covid-19 as quickly as possible, so we can win against this virus. Additionally, NASCAR is filled with skilled drivers who are considered by many to be heroes in their sport. Just as those drivers are respected and honored by spectators, people have always held nurses and doctors in high esteem. This pandemic has raised awareness of just how heroic their work truly is.

One of our own local healthcare heroes recently gained national recognition for his years of dedicated service. Dr. Jeff Viar, with Foothills Medical Associates, has been named by the National Rural Health Association as the 2020 National Rural Health Practitioner of the Year.

If the significance of this is lost to you, let me share that this is akin to winning the Daytona 500 in rural healthcare. It is awarded to only one practitioner in the nation who has demonstrated a level of care, skill, dedication and compassion that surpasses all others. The recipient’s commitment to quality and excellence exceeds expectations, and their impact is felt on a national scale. This is the first time in the history of this national award that a provider in North Carolina has received the honor. It’s time to wave the checkered flags and celebrate! I invite you to view a video about Dr. Viar’s story on our website at SaintLukesHospital.com.

One thing you will hear Dr. Viar say in the video, and we hear him repeat regularly at St. Luke’s, is that achievements aren’t made by one person. It takes a team.

In NASCAR, the pit crew may not be seen by the masses, but without them, the entire operation tanks. This is the same with successful healthcare services. For Dr. Viar, the entire staff at Foothills Medical Associates made this success possible!

Our healthcare team has many valuable participants who are not highly visible but are critical to our success. We are incredibly thankful for each of them and the role they fill. This is why we were so excited when Chad McKee, leader of our Materials Management and Environmental Services Department, was asked to be the grand marshal at the Memorial Day Alsco 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway!


Chad and his team at St. Luke’s have been masters at locating proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep our staff and patients safe during Covid-19. These committed professionals are also infection prevention experts and keep our environment clean, so patients can heal safely. This silent, busy crew makes a significant impact on our patient experience. As we don our face masks, shields and gowns, and walk the halls of our organization, the fruits of their labor are quietly on display.

When NASCAR decided not to allow spectators on-site at the race, Chad was asked to provide a grand marshal video that we filmed at St. Luke’s Hospital. In the video, Chad, along with coworkers Alyssa Jackson and Lori Rothell, shouted the “Driver’s, start your engines” command to officially start the race! If you missed this on Fox Sports 1, you can take a look at the St. Luke’s Hospital Facebook page to see what a great job the team did in representing both your locally owned independent hospital and all essential healthcare workers in North Carolina.

As we continue to deliver exceptional care that keeps our community safe and healthy, we encourage you to stay connected with us! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We hope you will continue cheering for your local healthcare system and the true hometown heroes that are part of our dedicated winning team. #StLukesNCStrong

Questions or comments? Contact Michelle at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org.