Wake Forest Baptist Health, Atrium Health to Create Medical School in Charlotte
Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem have signed a memorandum of understanding with Atrium Health to create a medical school campus in Charlotte.
The organizations have agreed to start a period of exclusive negotiations, with the goal of entering into a final agreement later this year. It would create North Carolina’s sixth medical school.
Charlotte-based Atrium Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system with nearly 14 million patient interactions each year across 42 hospitals and more than 900 care locations. It has 62,000 employees and $10 million in annual revenue.
Wake Forest Baptist Health is a nationally ranked academic medical center and regional healthcare system with 2.2 million patient interactions each year across seven hospitals and more than 400 care locations, and 16,500 employees.
“Phenomenal things can happen”
“Phenomenal things can happen when like-minded partners, committed to the same transformative vision, come together in new ways to better serve our patients and communities,” said Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health, announcing the potential partnership.
He added, “Just imagine the powerful possibilities to advance modern medicine by linking breakthrough science directly with our patients in a way that significantly enhances their cognitive and physical functioning – and allows them to live independently for longer. This is just one of the unlimited opportunities we see ahead. We can truly transform healthcare throughout North Carolina and far beyond – one patient at a time and one community at a time.”
Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine said, “It’s incredible to think about the impact we can make, together, advancing patient-centered research, a next-generation curriculum and active population health analytics across our combined footprint. We can create amazing outcomes that embrace true change – most importantly enhancing, extending and saving the lives of countless people.”
According to the announcement, a combined organization would:
- Bring together Atrium Health’s clinical programs in cancer, children’s, heart and musculoskeletal areas, along with Wake Forest Baptist Health’s clinical leadership and research in aging, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurosciences and regenerative medicine;
- Transform health for communities served through innovative data and evidence-driven public health programs, value-based care models to improve social determinants of health, and next-generation primary-care experiences that seek to dramatically improve and maintain health and well-being;
- Invest in a proposed Translational Research and Population Health Center in Winston-Salem, to accelerate the best possible practices for patients, while improving quality and making care more affordable for all, including drawing from the experience and track record of CHESS, the organizations’ population health services company.
- Educate nearly 3,200 total healthcare learners – including students, residents and fellows across more than 100 specialized training programs each year;
- Attract top medical education faculty to enhance innovative teaching methods and create new models of care, adding to the already 1,650 full- and part-time faculty positions at Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health; and
- Offer the largest post-graduate fellowship program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the nation, as well as critical experience for medical student education through an integrated academic healthcare system.
“This is an exciting prospect that will have positive state and national impacts in addition to benefiting the Charlotte and Winston-Salem communities,” said Nathan Hatch, Ph.D., president of Wake Forest University. “By strengthening medical education in Winston-Salem and bringing a medical school to Charlotte, we will open many doors for future health care leaders and also play a nationally leading role in research.”
It would fuel new scientific discoveries
Together, these innovative organizations would have the ability to fuel new scientific discoveries through the advancement of large-scale research within the settings where patients are already receiving care.
- It could coordinate many large and groundbreaking multi-site clinical research collaborations across the U.S., affecting millions of lives, including the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), the Search for Diabetes in Youth (SEARCH) and POINTER, a U.S. study to protect brain health through lifestyle intervention.
The combined organization would also care for more than 340,000 patients struggling with cardiovascular disease, and nearly 1.4 million North Carolinians in rural areas of the state. Combining each organization’s research and clinical strengths would result in national rankings by U.S. News & World Report in seven adult specialties and six pediatric specialties.
"We have been envisioning bringing a four-year school of medicine to the Charlotte area for decades, and to witness the possibility of this becoming a reality is truly incredible," Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles told the Charlotte Business Journal.
More information about the proposed next-generation academic health system can be found at www.BestCareforAll.org.