CHARLOTTE – Atrium Health CEO Eugene Woods said his hospital system’s merger with Wake Forest Baptist Health will not only lead to a new medical school but also a “Silicon Valley for healthcare innovation” from Winston-Salem to Charlotte.
Details of the new enterprise were announced Oct. 9.
“We are creating a nationally leading environment for clinicians, scientists, investors and visionaries to collaborate on breakthrough technologies and cures,” Woods said. “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.”
Citing an independent economic analysis, Atrium Health said the immediate direct and indirect annual economic and employment impact from the combined enterprise exceeds $32 billion and 180,000 jobs.
Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, said the merger elevates North Carolina as a national destination for medical care.
“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,” Freischlag said.
Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine will become the academic core of Atrium Health, building a second campus of the medical school in Charlotte, which is the largest U.S. city without a four-year medical school.
“As the only entity with two exceptional 4-year medical school locations in our region, we will become one of the largest educators of physicians and other medical professionals in the state – immediately educating over 3,500 total students across more than 100 specialized programs each year – while reducing the shortage of doctors in rural and under-served urban communities,” said Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest University.