Hedgepeth starts recovery at Shepherd Center

Published 4:00 pm Friday, August 5, 2022

It had been 42 days since Melody Hedgepeth heard her husband, Carnie’s, voice. She was able to hear it after he was transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta Georgia on Thursday, July 28. 

Shepherd Center is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Their team of expert clinicians provide individualized patient recovery plans and compassionate care, whether a patient is recovering from a life-changing injury or stroke or other neuromuscular condition, according to their website. 

Carnie is receiving care from a team consisting of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neurotherapists and physicians, Melody said. 

Carnie is showing much progress in the eight days since he has been at the center, Melody said. He’s beginning to eat liquids and talk, even sing “Amazing Grace” with her as a way to calm his over-stimulated brain. She added that he talks about numbers often as if he is still trying to do his job as the Beaufort County emergency services director. 

Melody shared that as Carnie begins to improve, she’ll see signs of his former self before the accident. “We’re seeing Carnie again.” 

Carnie was in a vehicle, motorcycle accident  on Monday, June 20 in Greenville. Melody was taking care of a family member. She and Carnie planned to meet at the family member’s home before driving in separate cars to Arthur Christian Church to help with vacation Bible school. (Carnie is the senior pastor at the church.) Melody was delayed, but Carnie went ahead of her. As she got in her vehicle to drive to the church, she received a call from Chris Newkirk, operations chief of fire and emergency management. He asked her if she was sitting down when he delivered the news. Melody said she went into a shock-like state and could hardly move. When she could finally see Carnie, she said a sense of peace washed over her that rid her of the panic she felt before. She believes God protected her from seeing the accident. 

Carnie was transported to ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville where he remained for a month. Melody was always right beside and continues to be beside him in Georgia. She stays in his room during the day, but the center offers on-campus apartments for families of patients. She stays there at night. She shared that her children worried she may feel lonely because she is by herself; however, support from the local community keeps flowing in. Also, there is so much to do between reading supportive messages and tasks to complete, she doesn’t have time to think about much else. 

How long Carnie will be at Shepherd Center is dependent on how long his recovery will take. It could take up to six weeks before he reaches another stage of recovery which will require more time at Shepherd Center. 

People may ask why a terrible accident would happen to a pastor. Melody knows Carnie would say, “why not?” She knows he would say that he is like any other person. 

Melody said his accident and recovery has tested her faith in God. She knows Carnie would agree with her saying that if their story brings one person to salvation or strengthens another Christian’s faith, then it will have all been worth it. She believes God will carry them and care for them through Carnie’s recovery. 

Carnie and Melody Hedgepeth. Melody has not left her husband’s side during his recovery. (Photo courtesy of Melody Hedgepeth)