Longtime Friend Honored with $30 Million Transformational Gift to Atrium Health

CHARLOTTE, N.C., October 20, 2021 – A treasured friend and grateful patient family has been honored with a transformational gift that includes support for the new Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation, slated to open in November 2022.

In recognition of the $30 million gift, the David L. Conlan Center will be named at Carolinas Rehabilitation. The late David Conlan was a 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. Smoky, his wife Margaret, and Bissell Ballantyne – the entity in which he partnered – made the donation to honor the life of Conlan, who was a patient at Atrium Health and benefited from rehabilitative medicine.

The David L. Conlan Center will anchor Carolinas Rehabilitation’s new flagship facility that will replace the current building constructed in the 1970s. Upon completion, this 150,000-square-foot specialized hospital will feature 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 Health’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 Bissell gift will be used to advance the reach, geography, and efficacy of existing and future rehabilitation services and programs offered by Carolinas Rehabilitation, which currently encompasses five inpatient hospitals and 18 outpatient locations. Nationally recognized by the American Hospital Association for its commitment to quality, Carolinas Rehabilitation will continue to emphasize quality of care, recruitment of the brightest talent, and patient experience – attributes that are especially meaningful to Smoky and Margaret Bissell.

“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.” These were qualities that David shared and were crucial to their team’s success.

It is not uncommon for the Bissell family to thoughtfully name gifts in honor of those who have had a major influence in their lives. Those names can be found on programs, buildings, and even on street signs in Ballantyne Corporate.

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

Given Margaret and Smoky Bissell’s passion for 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.

The Bissell family’s transformational gift supports Atrium Health’s goal to create exemplary facilities and support outstanding education, cornerstones of the comprehensive campaign for Atrium Health, launched earlier this year. “Smoky and Margaret have made a tremendous memorial gift that is both personal and transformative for this community,” said Hugh McColl, kick-off chair for the Giving Hope Campaign. “I hope this inspires others to step forward, honor loved ones, and express gratitude for the care they have received.”


About Atrium Health

Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Atrium Health is an integrated, nonprofit health system with nearly 70,000 teammates serving patients at 37 hospitals and more than 1,350 care locations. It provides care under the Wake Forest Baptist Health name in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, region and Atrium Health Navicent in Georgia. Atrium Health is renowned for its top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. A recognized leader in experiential medical education and groundbreaking research, Wake Forest School of Medicine is the academic core of the enterprise, including Wake Forest Innovations, which is advancing new medical technologies and biomedical discoveries. Atrium Health is also a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine, providing care close to home and in the home. Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for cancer treatment and in eight pediatric specialties, Atrium Health has also received the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality Prize and was the recipient of the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Equity Award for its efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, providing more than $2 billion per year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.