‘We’re here to help’

For Kip Clark, public safety plays a powerful role in a commitment to remarkable care

Kip Clark Receiving Alex Award

Kip Clark once delivered a baby in the front seat of a Honda Accord.

Clark is the director of operations for Novant Health public safety and emergency management, and when you work in public safety, Clark explained, stories like that are par for the course.   

“Just about every public safety officer will have these stories after they’ve been on the job for a week,” he said with a laugh.

And as with all good stories, they make a profound impact, on the officers and the individuals they are able to help.

On that day, a young couple had pulled into the parking deck at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center. The woman was pregnant and in labor, and the baby was coming too fast to make it inside the hospital.  

“I don’t remember how the call cracked over the radio, but we got out there, and their car was stopped in the middle of a lane on the second level of the parking deck. She was in the front passenger seat, and it was showtime,” he said.

The obstetrics team was paged out to the deck as Clark knelt down in front of the woman. When the OB team got there, they agreed Clark was in the perfect position. They didn’t want to move him, so in the end, it was Clark who eased the baby into the world.

“They handed me the umbilical cord clamps, and I cut the cord. I remember I made the joke that my wife had two babies in the hospital and I didn’t get to cut the cord with either one. Now I’m doing it in the parking deck,” Clark said. “That was a good day.”

Clark has seen a lot in his 28 years working in public safety at Novant Health. He started in 1992 at Presbyterian Medical Center, before it became part of the Novant Health system, and he has steadily worked his way up, from officer to instructor, supervisor to manager, and now serves as the director of public safety. In that time, he’s done everything from jump-starting cars to intervening with people who were attempting suicide. He’s seen violence and suffered it himself. He once told his children he had run into a tree limb to explain away the scrapes on his face.

“We’re the first responders for the hospital, and we protect those that provide the care and those receiving it,” Clark said. “We don’t say no. Instead, it’s, ‘What can I do to help you?’

Our public safety team members, communications specialists, switchboard operators and parking team all stand ready to help those in need.”

Sometimes, that commitment involves simple actions, like giving someone a ride to their car or a lift home. It also involves a deep commitment from leadership to ensure public safety is at the leading edge when it comes to training, processes and procedures.

Recently, as the social justice movement has swept the nation, that commitment has translated into an intense focus on diversity and inclusion.

“Last year, we wrote our own unconscious bias training curriculum for healthcare public safety and started teaching that to our leaders and now our officers. So we already had a strong foundation. Then, right from the onset of the social justice movement, we partnered with Tanya Blackmon, Novant Health executive vice president and chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer, and her team, to give our public safety team every tool in the toolbox when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” Clark said. “It’s all about recognizing how folks may view us, understanding the unconscious biases that we have and just having the conversation.”

For Clark, all of that is part of what it takes to provide remarkable care in all aspects of what Novant Health does.

“It’s about serving others,” Clark said. “With public safety, we’re here to help you. It’s that simple. How can we help you?”

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