By Brandon Martin
Blue-Emu, NASCAR, and Martinsville Speedway partnered to help Sovah Health celebrate the Martinsville facility’s 50th anniversary following a parade for frontline healthcare workers on June 8.
The Martinsville Ford Mustang Pace Car led the caravan of NASCAR haulers down and around Hospital Drive for staff and patients to enjoy.
Following the parade, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell and Sovah Health-Martinsville CEO Dale Alward talked about the history of the building, formerly known as Memorial General Hospital, and the impact of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve been the heart of Martinsville-Henry County since June 1970,” Alward said. “It’s been a unified community effort from the get-go.”
Alward said healthcare in the area grew from the 50-bed Shackelford Hospital on Church Street, which served the community from 1920 until 1946. From there, the community hospital evolved into the 80-bed capacity Martinsville General Hospital that grew to 173 beds in 1964. In 2017, the hospital took its current form as Sovah Health after uniting with Danville Regional Medical Center.
Campbell said that Sovah Health is the official healthcare provider for the speedway and he thanked frontline healthcare workers in attendance.
“What makes up our business are a lot of people that you’d call brave,” Campbell said. “They are out there giving all they’ve got to put on a show for the fans, but today we honor you frontline workers who matched that bravery. You give everything you’ve got. You risk your health, your well-being but you are dedicated to giving all that you have to protect and to care for those that come through the doors of this hospital,” Campbell said.
Wallace, who has won seven times at Martinsville Speedway, attended the event as a representative for Blue Emu, a topical pain relief ointment company.
“This is one of my favorite tracks. I love this place very much,” Wallace said. “It’s not about me though, and it’s not about the speedway. It’s about you frontline workers who put yourself on the line and took care of everybody.”
Wallace also provided a commentary during the June 10 race.
“It feels strange not having fans at the track, but we will have to get through this particular race and then get everything back to operational, hopefully,” Wallace said.