Rod Harkelroad, CEO at Haywood Regional Medical Center, has seen a lot of things in the nearly four years he’s been at the helm, but experienced a first this week.

On Monday evening, a body was brought to the hospital via nontraditional means. After immediately beginning life-saving measures, hospital staff called the Haywood County Sheriff’s office.

Spokesperson Lindsey Regner said deputies responded and were able to learn two men and a woman brought the woman there and that the deceased person had overdosed.

The two men left, but the woman stayed with her deceased friend, Regner said.

“It was later found to have occurred on the reservation before she was left at the ER,” Regner said. “Cherokee Tribal responded to the hospital.”

Harkleroad said he has seen a body dropped off at other hospitals where he has worked, but never at Haywood.

“Medically, we have to try to bring them back to life,” he said. “The physician and emergency team does whatever is necessary as long as the doctor feels like there’s a chance.”

In addition to notifying law enforcement, a medical examiner is brought in because it is likely an autopsy will be necessary, he said.

Generally if the hospital receives deceased individuals, they are coming in through EMS, Harkleroad said.

“If they come in off the street or have been found dead at home, we treat them as we would if a person went down in our lobby,” he said.

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