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Freedom Award: HCA Healthcare–Grand Strand Medical Center earn top honor from Secretary of Defense

Three people standing next to a poster outside
At a Sept. 28, 2021, ceremony at the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion, HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center was recognized as a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Pictured (left to right): Mark Sims, chief executive officer at Grand Strand Medical Center; Sharon Gilmore, med-surg nursing director at Grand Strand Medical Center; Karina Banaduc, med-surg nurse and Army Reserve Sgt.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented HCA Healthcare and affiliate hospital Grand Strand Medical Center with a 2021 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in recognition of exemplary support for our National Guard and Reserve colleagues.

HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center, along with 14 other recipients, were selected from 3,382 nominations received from guardsmen and reservists highlighting how their civilian employers went far beyond what the federal law requires to support them.

Mark Sims, chief executive officer at HCA Healthcare’s Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, underscores just how important National Guard and Reserve members are to our workforce. “To be recognized nationally as an organization which supports our colleagues’ military service is an accomplishment our whole community should take pride in,” said Sims. “We are honored that the same men and women who have chosen to volunteer to serve our country also choose to care for patients close to home. Their extraordinary service is a true testament to our mission, ‘Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.’”

Recently, many HCA Healthcare colleagues bravely answered the call to serve on the frontlines of COVID-19, sacrificing time with their friends and families and facing unimaginable tragedies. These colleagues stepped up by fulfilling their duties to our country and exemplifying the spirit of our organization.

Female nurse wearing scrubs and a face mask.
Army Reserve Sgt. Karina Banaduc serves HCA Healthcare patients at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Army Reserve Sgt. Karina Banaduc, a med-surg unit nurse at Grand Strand Medical Center, nominated our organization for support provided to her while she deployed as a combat medic to assist with COVID-19 efforts in Newark, New Jersey.

“I am grateful to have been employed by Grand Strand Medical Center. My managers and supervisors are very understanding and effectively support my military obligations including drill, annual training, military schools and deployments,” said Banaduc. “When I had to leave halfway through orientation to help on a COVID-19 mission up north I was granted more orientation time when I returned. My journey has been a complicated one from the start, but I could always count on them for anything I needed.”

HCA Healthcare has a strong and longstanding connection to the United States armed forces, military veterans and their families. Our military colleagues have always been an important part of our story, with two of our founders – Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr. and Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr. – having served in the U.S. Army and Air Force.

Our organization has been nationally recognized as a military-friendly employer and military-spouse friendly employer, hiring more than 40,000 veterans, active-duty personnel and military spouses since 2012.

In 2020, HCA Healthcare received recognition from Military Times as one of the country’s best employers for veterans based on our military-connected employment programs, benefits and support efforts. HCA Healthcare’s support of the military community includes:

  • An internal mentoring program for veterans and military spouses, which has been successful in helping recently transitioned veterans navigate the civilian workforce.
  • A Veteran Colleague Network: employee-led, self-directed voluntary network facilitating connection, collaboration and celebration among colleagues.
  • Offering military leave and supplemental pay to eligible colleagues, and supporting those who want to continue to serve as active duty military while working at HCA Healthcare.
  • Partnering with the U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade to create the Patriot Partnership Program allowing the Army to provide specialized training for residency and fellowship programs nationwide.
  • Serving on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Veteran Employment and Military Spouse Employment Partnership Council.
  • Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the “Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign to help military spouses seeking meaningful 21st-century career opportunities.

HCA Healthcare has been nationally recognized as a military-friendly employer and military-spouse friendly employer for 10 years by VIQTORY. In 2015, our organization received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes – Lee Anderson Award for overall excellence in hiring and retaining veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses.

The award was presented to HCA Healthcare – Grand Strand Medical Center, with recognition events in South Carolina, where Grand Strand Medical Center is located, and in Tennessee, where HCA Healthcare is headquartered.

Group of men posing with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
HCA Healthcare was presented the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award on Aug. 13, 2021, in Brentwood, Tennessee. Pictured (left to right): Brigadier General Robert Krumm, US Army Reserve; Major General Tommy Baker, Deputy Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard; Major General Jeff Holmes, Tennessee Adjutant General; Terry Deas, HCA Healthcare AVP, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Kenneth Burke, HCA Healthcare Program Coordinator, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Ron Bogle, Tennessee ESGR National Chair; Retired Brigadier General Jim Mungenast, Tennessee ESGR State Chair; Colonel Jason Brock, Chief of Staff, Tennessee Air National Guard.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 186 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our approximately 275,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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