May 18, 2024
Wellstar, Augusta College Well being System to type partnership

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital (FOX 5)

Marietta-based Wellstar Well being System and Augusta College Well being System introduced the 2 organizations have signed a letter of intent to “type an revolutionary new partnership.” Whereas the total particulars of how this partnership would work has not been publicized, they are saying it might assist broaden the college’s Medical Faculty of Georgia affiliation.

The announcement of the partnership, which has been within the works since 2019, was made Tuesday on the Augusta College Well being web site.

“AUHS, Augusta College and the Wellstar Well being System have a shared mission to unravel Georgia’s well being care challenges,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue stated. “By becoming a member of forces and dealing collectively, we are able to leverage Wellstar’s medical platform and modern methods to assist sufferers whereas offering extra alternatives for college kids to be taught, prepare and look after residents in native communities throughout Georgia.”

The partnership focuses on three key areas: increasing digital well being accessibility, growing pupil coaching and analysis, and innovating new care choices.

“By bringing Augusta College Well being System along with Wellstar Well being System and leveraging our respective strengths, we’d enhance the well being of the neighborhood, tackle social determinants of well being and increase entry to high quality look after all Georgians,” stated Candice L. Saunders, FACHE, president and chief government officer of Wellstar Well being System.

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital (FOX 5)

The partnership might open the door for a brand new educating campus at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, which might probably rocket the Medical Faculty of Georgia from the ninth-largest freshman class within the nation to the primary.

“With our total nation dealing with a doctor scarcity and our state usually rating about fortieth within the variety of physicians per capita, educating the following technology of physicians is extra vital than ever,” stated David Hess, MD, dean of the Medical Faculty of Georgia and government vice chairman of medical affairs and integration at Augusta College. “I’m excited in regards to the partnership with Wellstar, since it’ll allow our college students and residents to proceed to be taught from a number of the most extremely certified physicians and different well being care professionals within the state whereas permitting MCG to increase its contributions to bettering public well being in Georgia particularly in additional rural areas.”

The partnership can even take a look at under-served areas of the state and how one can improve medical protection to these areas.

Any deal is way from last although, and spokespersons on Tuesday stated they might not reply key questions, together with how a lot Wellstar may pay to take over the system’s hospitals.

It will be a part of a collection of hospital mergers in Georgia and nationwide, as standalone hospitals develop into massive sufficient methods to afford large investments in digital document methods — and still have the market energy to barter extra profitable cost agreements with insurers.

Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare took over a three-hospital system based mostly in Augusta earlier this yr, pledging to speculate greater than $1 billion in upgrades and expansions over the following 10 years. That nonprofit group was named College Hospital, though it wasn’t managed by Augusta College.

The announcement comes after Wellstar closed a number of key services in metro Atlanta this previous yr together with Atlanta Medical Middle, leaving just one Degree 1 grownup trauma heart in north Georgia. Wellstar stated it misplaced $122 million on the two hospitals in 2022. However critics stated Wellstar pulled out with out giving native officers an opportunity to avoid wasting the hospitals, eliminating considered one of solely two top-level trauma facilities within the Atlanta space. This decreased accessible medical look after poor and largely Black sufferers, and shifted burdens onto remaining hospitals, regardless of its obligation to supply care as a nonprofit system.

Gov. Brian Kemp despatched $130 million in federal pandemic funds to Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta’s publicly owned hospital, to assist offset the influence of the closure.

Wellstar runs 9 hospitals in suburban Atlanta, largely concentrated within the northwest suburbs. 

Augusta College Well being System runs the 478-bed Augusta College Medical Middle and the 154-bed Kids’s Hospital of Georgia, each in Augusta. It additionally has regulatory approval to construct a 100-bed hospital in Grovetown, within the rising Columbia County suburbs of Augusta. The system additionally runs the Georgia Most cancers Middle in Augusta, and Roosevelt Heat Springs Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospitals in Heat Springs.

The Board of Regents, which oversees Georgia’s 26 public universities and schools, must approve any last settlement between AU Well being Methods and Wellstar.

The Related Press contributed to this report