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Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health complete merger

A second school of medicine campus will be built in Charlotte and a new critical care, ER and surgery tower will be constructed.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health, including Wake Forest School of Medicine, have merged as a single enterprise to be called Atrium Health. 

Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health, has been appointed president and CEO of the new enterprise. 

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based health system of 41 hospitals and more than 900 care locations will now encompass an academic health system totaling 42 hospitals and more than 1,500 care locations. It will have an annual net revenue of more than $11.5 billion, according to the health system. The enterprise has over 70,000 employees.

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More than 7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia will have access to care from the combined organization. 

Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, has been named the chief academic officer for Atrium Health, in addition to her current role. She is expected to focus on driving leading-edge, experiential medical education and training.

Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine will build a second campus of the school of medicine in Charlotte, which is currently the largest city in the U.S. without a four-year medical school, according to the health system. 

More than 3,500 students, residents and fellows are expected to be educated across more than 100 specialized training programs each year. The academic health system receives more than $300 million annually in external funding for research and supports over 3,500 clinical trials and research studies.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Woods is calling the integration a "Silicon Valley" for health innovation and economic development.

The immediate direct and indirect annual economic and employment impact from the combined enterprise is expected to exceed $32 billion and 180,000 jobs.

The Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem is one of nine innovation districts in the world recognized by the Global Institute on Innovation Districts. It will anchor the new high-tech corridor as it expands to Charlotte.

A new Eye Institute will be established in Winston-Salem's Innovation Quarter for Wake Forest Baptist's growing ophthalmology department.

A new critical care, emergency department and surgery tower will be constructed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

THE LARGER TREND

The strategic combination was first announced in April 2019, with a definitive agreement signed in October of last year following approval by each entity's governing board. The new enterprise will take effect immediately, as will the integration process.

ON THE RECORD

"As the healthcare field goes through the most transformative period in our lifetime, in addition to a new medical school, our vision is to build a 'Silicon Valley' for healthcare innovation spanning from Winston-Salem to Charlotte," Woods said. "We are creating a nationally-leading environment for clinicians, scientists, investors and visionaries to collaborate on breakthrough technologies and cures. Everything we do will be focused on life-changing care for all, in urban and rural communities alike. And we will create jobs that provide inclusive opportunities to enhance the economic vitality of our entire region."

"The impact of the strategic combination will be far-reaching, elevating North Carolina as a clear destination of choice to receive medical care for people all across the nation," Freischlag said. "Through our combined, nationally recognized clinical centers of excellence in multiple specialties, we will be able to expand our research in signature areas, such as cancer, cardiovascular, regenerative medicine and aging, and target bringing research breakthroughs to the community in less than half the time of the national average."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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