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Emory University and WellStar Health System to begin design work on new, unified health system

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Vince Dollard

The Executive Committee of the Emory University Board of Trustees and the WellStar Health System Board of Trustees have each approved a resolution to begin the design process for a new, unified health system.  The new health system would be formed by combining Emory Healthcare, an entity owned by Emory University, and WellStar Health System into a new system.  The goal is to provide world-class healthcare to patients through the integration of education, discovery, and healthcare delivery.

The strategic intent is to combine the best of academic medicine and community-based care into a healthcare system that will create innovative, accessible and cost-effective delivery models and be a leader locally, across the state and nationally.  During the anticipated year-long design phase, leaders at the two organizations will finalize all elements of the new health system’s structure, including the name of the new health system, corporate office location, governance, structure and other details. The new health system will continue to be not-for-profit, reinvesting back into the communities it serves. 

“While both Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System are strong and thriving, by coming together we can do something truly unique that neither could do alone.  As a result, we expect to be even more effective in pursuing our mission,” says Michael Mandl, Emory Healthcare president and CEO. “We intend to realize even higher excellence in patient care delivery through geographically dispersed access points, a large population for coordinated care, and expanded platforms for, and investments in, our signature programs, medical education and health sciences research.”

Both Emory and WellStar are in strong positions despite national trends that have resulted in uncertainty within the healthcare industry, including changing government regulations and reimbursement rates.  To ensure that both health systems can continue to provide world-class healthcare, the new health system will create synergies that lead to increased efficiencies and availability of coordinated and value based continuum of care for patients.

“Instead of being reactive to our environment, we are being proactive to position our system and community for success in the future,” said Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar Health System.  “The new health system will be a leader nationally for the level of care it provides and its innovative strategies for addressing the challenges and opportunities of today’s healthcare landscape.  Joining Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System will put metro Atlanta at the center of designing new healthcare delivery systems in the United States and be another magnet for innovation.”

Since announcing discussions, WellStar and Emory have been actively communicating with physicians, team members, communities and stakeholders in an effort to answer questions and receive comments.  That information has been valuable in guiding future discussions between Emory and WellStar.  During the design phase, Emory and WellStar will continue to communicate and seek feedback.  Community members and patients can submit questions or feedback to or

“Providing world-class patient care is at the heart of everything we do,” said Gary Miller, chair of WellStar Board of Trustees.  “We are creating a new health system that is rooted in our community.  As not-for-profits, WellStar and Emory will continue to listen to our patients and communities as we look to build a new, innovative health system that can take care of our community long-term.”

“The Emory University Board of Trustees sees this initiative as an opportunity to develop a new and innovative system by advancing world class healthcare, research, and education,” says John Morgan, chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees. “While patients throughout Metro Atlanta will realize the benefits, all of Georgia and beyond will benefit from the innovative delivery models this system will introduce.”

The boards of Emory University and WellStar Health System will review and consider approval of the elements of the new system at appropriate times along the design phase.  The new system would have its own board of directors, with 50 percent of its members to be appointed by Emory and 50 percent to be appointed by WellStar.  During the design phase, Emory and WellStar will continue to communicate with communities, patients, physicians, nurses, and team members.

About Emory Healthcare

Emory Healthcare, with more than 16,000 employees, is the largest and most comprehensive health system in Georgia. It includes: Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Rehabilitation Hospital in Partnership with Select Medical, Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates and the Emory Healthcare Network. System-wide, it has 1,830 licensed patient beds.

Emory Healthcare is the only health system in Georgia with two Magnet-designated hospitals, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Emory University Hospital, for nursing excellence.

Emory Healthcare's core purpose: "To serve humanity by improving health through integration of education, discovery and health care." For more information, visit

About WellStar Health System

WellStar Health System is the largest not-for-profit health system in Georgia and serves a population of more than 1.4 million residents in five counties. The vision of WellStar is to deliver world-class healthcare. A national leader in the transformation of healthcare delivery, WellStar launched the Center for Health Transformation and has partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute leading to far-reaching effects on healthcare both locally and nationally. WellStar is regularly listed as a top employer nationally—most recently on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list. WellStar includes WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center (anchored by WellStar Kennestone Hospital) and WellStar Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Windy Hill hospitals; WellStar Medical Group; Urgent Care Centers; Health Parks; Pediatric Center; Health Place; Homecare; Hospice; Atherton Place; Paulding Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; and the WellStar Foundation. For more information, call 770-956-STAR or visit

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