$30 million gift will support Atrium rehab center’s flagship facility

CHARLOTTE — A $30 million gift will support the new Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation and also honor the family of an Atrium patient.

A new facility will be named the David L. Conlan Center after a longtime longtime friend, colleague and trusted advisor of Charlotte developer and philanthropist Howard C. “Smoky” Bissell, as well as a partner of the Bissell family until his passing in August 2021.

The facility will anchor Carolina’s Rehabilitation, a flagship facility slated to open in November 2022. It will replace the current building that was built in the 1970s.

Bissell, his wife Margaret, and Bissell Ballantyne - the entity in which he partnered - made the donation to honor Conlan’s life. Conlan was a patient at Atrium Health and benefited from rehabilitative medicine.

Upon completion, the 150,000 square foot specialized hospital will have 70 private patient rooms, a 9,300-square-foot outpatient clinic, an outdoor therapy garden, an aquatic therapy program, and a center for independent living to help patients relearn activities for daily life.

The project broke ground in September 2020, marking the first step in the modernization of Atrium’s Carolinas Medical Center campus.

“We are humbled by Margaret and Smoky Bissell’s tremendous generosity, which will enable Atrium Health to further enhance our latest technology and programs to better serve patients and the surrounding communities,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “In a very poetic way, Margaret and Smoky are not only honoring one life, but impacting thousands through this memorial gift. The David Conlan name will forever be linked with a state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital, a place where wounds are healed, medical knowledge is advanced, and lives are rebuilt.”

In addition to naming the David L. Conlan Center, the gift will be used to advance the reach, geography, and effectiveness of existing and future rehabilitation services and programs offered by Carolinas Rehabilitation. Currently, Carolinas Rehabilitation encompasses five inpatient hospitals and 18 outpatient locations.

“We experienced, first-hand, the excellent, compassionate care that David received during his hospitalization at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center,” said Smoky Bissell. “Margaret and I are proud to honor him by supporting a facility that truly will reflect the world-class team caring for its patients – a team that grasps best practices, innovation, and attention to detail.”

Smoky Bissell has had a major influence on the growth of Atrium’s system, from leading the campaign to build Levine Children’s Hospital, to providing significant support for cancer programs, COVID-19 relief efforts, research, and education.

An additional portion of their gift will support educational opportunities at the new Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist School of Medicine in Charlotte as well as Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

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