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Helipad project moving forward as part of the changing face of Floyd Medical Center

The addition of a helipad to Floyd Medical Center may be the first noticeable change to the hospital as it transitions to what will eventually be Atrium Health Floyd.

The elevated helipad will be constructed at the updated Emergency Care Center entrance off Second Avenue. The landing pad will have direct elevator access to the emergency department’s trauma bays as well as allow ambulances to pass and park beneath.

Some of the prep work for the $4 million helipad project began this week, David Early, vice president of support services and operations, said.

Floyd Medical Center 

This image shows the location for the Floyd Medical Center helipad located along Second Avenue.

The addition will eliminate the 1.5- mile drive to the current location on Riverside Parkway and cut minutes off the time between a patient’s arrival and treatment.

“In a trauma situation, every second counts,” Early said. “If you think of the life of this helipad — 30 to 40 to 50 years — think of all the lives that will be saved.”


Floyd began as the first designated trauma center in Georgia in 1981, Floyd Medical Center CEO Kurt Stuenkel said, and since then they’ve constantly been working to improve their standards.

Within the last decade, the American College of Surgeons issued guidelines for Level I and II trauma centers in the United States. Floyd, as a Level II trauma center for the region, has made it a priority to adhere to those guidelines and as part of the process developed a plan for a readily accessible helipad.

Kurt Stuenkel

The hospital is the only Level II Trauma Center in Georgia EMS Region 1, which covers 16 counties as well as providing service to four Alabama counties.

In addition, Stuenkel said they’ve made new arrangements with Harbin Clinic to have available surgeons and specialized trauma surgeons dedicated 100% of the time to Floyd.

“For any trauma patient that shows up, we will have a trauma surgeon ready to go,” he said.

They’ve also brought in Dr. Chad Beck, an orthopaedic traumatologist. Beck cares for patients with complex bone fractures that often occur in car wrecks or other traumatic injuries.

“He’s helped us lift the level of care,” Stuenkel said.


Later this year, Floyd will discontinue using its traditional bright green and move to the Atrium Health teal as it also takes on the new Atrium Health Floyd name. Floyd’s other properties, Polk Medical Center as well as Cherokee Medical Center in Alabama, will do the same.

“We’ll do an unveiling of the brand later this year,” Floyd Public Relations Manager Dan Bevels said.

But for now, with the incredible volume of COVID-19 patients coming in to the hospital’s emergency room as part of a surge in cases of the highly infectious Delta variant, Stuenkel looks back at what he feels have been good decisions.

One of those decisions was to create a dedicated entrance for the Family Birth Center.


Medical professionals and community leaders cut the ribbon to the new Family Birth Center at Floyd Medical Center.

Expectant mothers used to enter the maternity ward through the Emergency Room, and with the current number of COVID-19 patients being treated in the ER, the situation would have been untenable, Stuenkel said.

Now they enter and leave, with their newborn, through that dedicated area.

“We’ve gotten a lot of great comments from delivery staff and moms,” Stuenkel said.

Other renovations have been noticeable on the hospital’s campus, from pressure washing the facade of the building to installing tinted windows along a walkway to the parking deck.


As part of determining best practices there has been a continuing investment in the hospital system’s abilities to provide care to the region.

been very exciting,” Stuenkel said. “We’re working with all of our colleagues within 40 hospitals and comparing notes for best practices.”

Ryan Smith, Floyd Medical Center, File 

Floyd Medical Center’s first robot-assisted surgery took place Nov. 4, 2020, using the groundbreaking da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

Floyd is investing in two new robotic-assisted surgical systems as part of a $3.9 million project. The hospital will add a DePuy Synthes VELYS Robotic-Assisted Solution, used for total knee replacement surgery, and a second da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

Floyd is also adding another catheterization laboratory, commonly referred to as a cath lab, to the three already at the hospital.

The addition will make four fully functioning examination areas with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the chambers and arteries of the heart.

For all

The newly formed Floyd-Polk Foundation resumes the work done by the Floyd Healthcare Foundation. With the integration into Atrium Health, the foundation was infused with approximately $140 million.

“What we especially want to do is create and identify projects that address disparities of care,” Stuenkel said.

Much of the money in the foundation will be reinvested. The earnings from that fund will go toward addressing healthcare disparities in the region, Stuenkel said, and the foundation alongside the More Heart Advisory Board has already made some headway.

The board was formed by Floyd in 2020 and is made up of leaders from minority communities in Floyd, Polk and Chattooga counties.

Ryan Smith, Floyd Medical Center, File 

Envision Center Director Greg Shropshire shows Shawana Sullivan how to use the blood pressure kiosk at the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority’s Frost and Barron high rise apartments.

In this case, they specifically targeted high blood pressure in minority and low-income populations.

Through the program, the board installed four blood pressure kiosks, so those who may not see a physician regularly can check their blood pressure.

Lovejoy Baptist Church is home to one of the machines in South Rome and the other three machines are at Wraps Styling Salon on Second Avenue, Frost and Barron Apartments on Fifth Avenue and One Door Polk on North Main Street in Cedartown. Another is planned for placement in Chattooga County.

“That’s been a really successful program,” Stuenkel said with a touch of pride. “We’re going to be doing lots of things like this going forward.”

Pandemic leads workers to quit for more pay, better work-life balance

After three years working as a regional director for a STEM workforce development company, John Ray wanted to do something different with his more than a decade of experience in education.

While working from his Detroit home during the pandemic, Ray decided to leave his job and start his own consulting business.

“I always taught students to grasp what they wanted. To go after their dreams, to take full advantage of their lives,” he said. “With COVID really being in this reflection period, I have been living out a lot of those items myself. I still had a lot of dreams and desires that I wanted to get into ... I wanted to make sure I was making the most of my time, my life.”

Ray is among the millions in the United States quitting their jobs in search of higher pay, more flexibility or a fresh start that allows them to pursue different professional goals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3.9 million voluntary separations in June.

Women with children younger than 18 are having a slower return to the workforce, said Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. Older Americans nearing retirement are also thinking about whether they want to return to work, she said.

Employment levels are low in the hospitality and the restaurant industries with former employees seeking work elsewhere, Corbin said.

“There’s high demand for workers now,” she said. “Those people who were traditionally in lower-paying jobs have more opportunities in higher-paying jobs. Those making $12 an hour previously can find opportunities making $15 to $18 an hour.”

In this tight labor market, sign-on bonuses are the norm, with employers competing for a smaller applicant pool, said Andrew Hunter, co-creator of global job search engine Adzuna.

“The easy way to attract talent back into the job market is with money, but that’s not the be-all and end-all,” he said. “We’re definitely seeing examples of pay being increased, but I think it’s important that employers balance that with understanding the needs of the job-seeker in 2021 and the perks and all of that that come with pay.”

Amazon is offering a $1,000 sign-up bonus for new hires at its newest fulfillment centers, said Jessica Pawl, an Amazon spokeswoman. There’s an extra $100 bonus for workers who report for their first day already vaccinated for COVID-19, she said.

The online retailer, which is not mandating vaccinations, also offers full-time, part-time and flex-time schedules. “Those are really all of the different schedule types that folks are interested in,” Pawl said.

The company starts pay at $15 an hour and provides other benefits, including healthcare and exclusive access to neighborhood health centers. It also pre-pays up to 95% of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields for employees who have been with the company at least a year.

At Churchill’s Food & Spirits in downtown Flint, Mich., executive chef Tyler Hardisty said it’s been a struggle to hire workers.

Hardisty said the few people applying for positions either don’t show up for interviews or, once hired, for work. The restaurant needs three cooks, eight servers and one or two bartenders.

He said things may change when Michigan stops paying $300 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits next month.

“We’re hoping that when that drops off, there’s going to be an influx of people looking for jobs,” he said.

Hardisty said that the restaurant opted not to offer a hiring bonus, which would come with such requirements as a waiting period and perfect attendance.

“We’re just kind of offering ourselves and our experience ...” he said. “I’m a certified executive chef through the (American Culinary Federation), and we’re doing a lot of high-end cocktails and mixology-type things that a lot of places aren’t doing. We try to sell ourselves as being a good place to come to get some knowledge and experience.”

In the restaurant industry, Churchill’s isn’t alone in facing staffing challenges.

Laura Lawson, chief people officer for United Wholesale Mortgage, has noticed a lot of the Pontiac, Mich., company’s new employees coming from restaurants and other hospitality businesses.

“I think the top is the restaurant industry,” Lawson said. “People who were working at golf clubs, resorts, anything that falls under restaurant and hospitality ... insurance companies, health care, teachers, bus drivers. I know we had some medical workers, veterinarians. The stories are very unique, depending on where people come from.”

UWM hired 4,700 people from March 2020 through December 2020 and has about 9,000 employees.

Of the newer hires, about 60% resigned from other employers, while 40% came after being laid off, Lawson said.

The company recently called employees back to the office for in-person work, resulting in a loss of fewer than 200 employees who chose not to return, Lawson said. Overall, UWM has a 90% annual retention rate, she said.

For many workers, the pandemic was a time to reflect on their professional and personal lives.

“I think the primary driving factor behind the great resignation is many Americans are just taking pause for thought,” Hunter said. “There’s been a good opportunity to take a step back and think what are the priorities in my life during this pandemic and how do I want to spend my work-life balance. A lot of people are moving toward flexible working, greater rates of pay or they’re seeking to move (into a new) industry or sector entirely.”

Ray said he began to think about taking the leap to entrepreneurship after losing an aunt and uncle to COVID-19 and watching numerous friends and family catch the virus. “COVID kind of put a lot of things into perspective,” he said.

Ray resigned in April this year as regional director of SMASH, a national STEM workforce development company, and started The Kinfolk Group, also known as TKG Consulting. He consults for social impact organizations across the U.S., helping them improve their operations.

Ray said he traveled in his previous position, which he liked, but it was on a tight schedule. As operator of his own business, he can choose if and when he travels.

“That’s one of the biggest things I love about entrepreneurship is the freedom of my schedule that I have and that flexibility,” he said.

April Andis of Grand Blanc, Mich., left her job in an auto supplier plant to become an operations specialist for UWM in March of this year. The 43-year-old said she was looking for a less physically demanding job.

“Standing on my feet for eight hours a day on concrete is kind of what made me change careers,” she said. “It was getting too much for myself as far as my back and my legs.”

Andis said her job at UWM allows a better work-life balance for her, two grown sons and 14-year-old daughter: “We have our nights together when we get home.”

Consumer Confidential|
Consumer Confidential: Want to read a tech company's user agreements? Got 90 minutes to spare?

If you’re like most people, you don’t bother to read the user contracts and privacy policies that accompany all those “free” services you enjoy online — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest.

You should, but that’s not what today’s column is about.

Rather, let’s look at how Big Tech seems to go out of its way to prevent you from understanding what you’re agreeing to when you sign up for service.

Put another way, let’s examine how these companies often make it as hard as possible to know what personal data are being collected and how they’re being used, how extensively your online activities are being monitored, and what your legal rights may be (or may not be) in case of trouble.

“Businesses know their terms are unreadable by, and incomprehensible to, consumers,” said Lauren Willis, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University.

Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, told me it takes a “substantial” amount of time for anyone to traverse tech companies’ user agreements, let alone fully understand them.

“Certainly the lengths of these contracts deter many people from wading through them,” he said.

A recent study from Reboot Online Marketing, a London-based digital PR firm, tabulated how much time it would take the average person to read the terms of service and privacy policies of leading social media and e-commerce companies.

Reboot did this by feeding the contracts into an online tool called Words to Time. It estimates how long most people need to get through a certain number of words, using a conservative reading speed of 130 words per minute (the average for most adults is closer to 200 words per minute).

As a baseline, this column runs about 1,000 words. According to Words to Time, the average person will finish reading it in less than eight minutes.

Reboot’s study found that most people will need between an hour and an hour and a half to get through the user contracts and privacy policies of some of the biggest names in the tech world.

“Some contracts have over 15,000 words!” said Florencia Marotta-Wurgler, a law professor at New York University. She added that many such documents contain language that’s “more complex than articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.”

The worst of the worst is the e-commerce platform Shopify. According to Reboot, the typical user will have to spend 77 minutes poring over the company’s contract, a.k.a. its terms of service.

The most time-consuming privacy policy, meanwhile, belongs to online payment processor PayPal. You’ll need to set aside 53 minutes to fully understand what the company does with your personal information, according to Reboot.

Reading PayPal’s privacy policy and its user contract will require 92 minutes. Shopify’s two documents will take 89 minutes to digest.

A Shopify spokesperson declined to comment on the record. No one at PayPal got back to me.

Other big-name sites aren’t much better. Reboot says Amazon’s contract and privacy policy require a total of 83 minutes to peruse, followed by WhatsApp (81 minutes), Twitter (81 minutes), Twitch (79.5 minutes) and Facebook (66 minutes).

To be sure, most companies need to convey complex legal concepts in their contracts. Lawyers — never a friend to clear, concise language — have a hand in drafting the documents.

“The need to be very comprehensive and cover their behinds with an air-tight agreement is instrumental,” observed Steve Tadelis, an economics professor at UC Berkeley.

I asked him whether some companies deliberately make their consumer contracts difficult to read and understand to deter people from looking too closely.

“Rarely if ever,” he replied. “Some bad actors may try to use these tactics. But for the most part, I think it’s done to avoid frivolous litigation and reduce business uncertainty.”

Others were less charitable.

“Do companies deliberately do this so that most consumers won’t read them?” asked Audrey Guskey, an associate professor of marketing at Duquesne University. “You bet they do.”

She cited a 2019 study by Pew Research Center showing that just 9% of U.S. adults said they always read a company’s privacy policy before agreeing to the terms and conditions.

Thirteen percent of adults said they often read privacy policies, 38% said they do so sometimes and 36% said they never read privacy policies.

Which is to say, most Americans seldom if ever read a company’s privacy policy before clicking the “I agree” box.

“When a company’s terms of service agreement and privacy policies are so complex they sound like an academic journal article, and take almost as long to read as a dissertation, consumers tend to forgo reading the policies and blindly agree to the terms,” Guskey told me.

As someone who has read hundreds of consumer contracts over the years, my sense is that most businesses aren’t being malicious in serving up hard-to-read documents.

But they aren’t striving to make their disclosures easily understood; nor are they focused on ensuring that key points are conveyed in a transparent fashion.

This is unfair. And it’s wrong. And it requires fixing.

Loyola’s Willis proposed having state legislatures mandate that all consumer contracts and privacy policies “be comprehensible to most consumers.”

That’s how they do it across the Atlantic. The European Union requires that all privacy policies be written “in clear and plain language.”

There’s also precedence for this in America. Monthly credit card statements grew so incomprehensible and unwieldy in their presentation of fees, Congress passed a law in 2009 requiring that bills be written so people can understand them.

Goldman at Santa Clara University observed that businesses may have to include boilerplate language in contracts. “In some cases, the legal concepts are so complicated, they’ll be hard to understand no matter how they’re stated,” he said.

Point taken. But that shouldn’t let companies off the hook.

If specific, difficult verbiage is required for legal purposes, businesses should also provide straightforward translations of what’s being conveyed — and what it means for consumers.

“Most people do not have the time, patience or understanding of policies to spend an hour reading through terms of service agreement and privacy policies,” said Guskey at Duquesne University.

You started reading this column about eight minutes ago, give or take. Hopefully you didn’t have to work too hard, and hopefully you learned a thing or two.

Pay attention, Silicon Valley. This is how it’s done.