Bringing the Best Care for All

Bringing the Best Care for All

We’re on a quest to revolutionize how people get and stay healthy.

Bringing access to care to more people. Making care more affordable. Improving health for all communities.

At Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University, that’s the unified vision we share as we seek to create a next-generation academic healthcare system and enrich the lives and communities of North Carolina and our region.

Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to create a world-class academic healthcare system focused on a singular and defining purpose: continuously improving health for every community we serve.

Here’s how we’ll make it happen.

Deliver the best care for all

From cancer and heart care to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, we’ll bring together the expertise of our top clinical programs across an array of specialties. We’ll accelerate the development of best practices and evidence-based programs that drive improved population health. And we’ll bring better care close to home for the nearly 6.8 million residents near our service areas.

Create a next-generation medical school

Together, we’ll build on the excellence of Wake Forest School of Medicine with a second state-of-the-art campus in Charlotte. We’ll redefine physician training with a cutting-edge curriculum that supports the future of care – attracting top faculty and educating more than 3,000 learners across 100 programs each year.

Power patient-centered research and innovation

Uniting our clinical and research strengths – which include more than $200 million in annual research funding and over 1,000 active clinical studies – we’ll coordinate groundbreaking clinical research collaborations to advance care around our nation’s most challenging healthcare needs. Together, we’ll fuel new scientific discoveries that transform health for people across our region and across the country.

Our leaders are united.

Julie Ann Freischlag.

Julie Ann Freischlag, MD CEO, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine

“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.”

Eugene A. Woods.

Eugene A. Woods
President and CEO
Atrium Health

“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.”

Nathan O. Hatch.

Nathan O. Hatch, PhD President
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.”

Don Flow

Don Flow
Chair
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Board of Directors

“The possibilities of this partnership enable us to significantly enhance our capacity to provide transformational health care for our communities. Together, we can help all in our communities by providing access to the very best health care available anywhere.”

Edward J. Brown III, Chair, Atrium Health Board of Commissioners

Edward J. Brown III
Chair
Atrium Health Board of Commissioners

“It’s a time to dream big about how we extend our mission of health, hope and healing to thousands more people, especially those who are among the most vulnerable. The best care for all is our common and unwavering commitment.”

Gerald F. Roach

Gerald F. Roach
Chair
Wake Forest University Board of Trustees

“Wake Forest is proud to partner with Atrium Health to expand access to health care and research, and we are excited about the impact our efforts will have on the people we serve, educate and employ.”

Our community’s with us.

We’re not the only ones excited by the potential impact of this incredible vision. Hear what some of the brightest leaders across our region and nation have to say.

This announcement is bringing us closer to the future we’re all working toward – a consumer-centric, evidence-based care delivery system that produces better outcomes and powerful innovations. It’s an exciting opportunity to create a best-in-class care delivery model in Charlotte’s backyard that can enable large-scale improvement in the health of our community and across the nation.

Susan DeVore, President and CEO, Premier Inc.

I am very excited about the potential of combining one of the nation’s best healthcare systems with one of the best educational institutes in the nation to not only bring a four-year medical school to Charlotte, but to elevate the region’s reputation and create an important economic engine which will have a positive impact for so many people in our community.

George R. Dunlap, Chair, Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners

...The healthcare sector is such a critical part of our economy, and now has the opportunity to grow even more. The addition of a four-year medical school in Charlotte offers invaluable visibility, continued job growth, and the potential of attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs from across the country – with the added benefit of serving more people in our community.

Janet LaBar, CEO, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

[This] is a very positive strategic move to expand the base for training of medical students, to enhance research options and to potentially increase funding from national sources. … I applaud the Board and leadership for taking this bold step to position the medical school and medical center into the future.

Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth
Winston-Salem Journal, April 10, 2019

This announcement from Wake Forest Baptist Health, Atrium Health and Wake Forest University School of Medicine is a great example of the ways healthcare providers and others in our state are partnering to shape the future of healthcare delivery and meet the needs of the communities we serve through research, training and hands-on care.

Steve Lawler, President, North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA)

[Bringing] a medical school of the future to Charlotte is one of the realizations of our vision for this great city. We have been envisioning bringing a school of medicine to the Charlotte area for decades, and to witness the possibility of this becoming a reality is truly incredible.

Vi Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte
Charlotte Observer, April 10, 2019

It is just a great win for us between having a brand like Atrium [Health] and a brand like Wake Forest Baptist and a fine university in Wake Forest to say, 'We are going to have something special in Charlotte.’ Now we are running with the big boys; we are going to have a four-year medical school in Charlotte.

James Mitchell, Council Member, City of Charlotte
WSOC TV, April 10, 2019

I could see an experimental approach to combining academic medicine with community care and changing the way a patient is treated, almost like a center of excellence. ... Pairing a strong hospital system with an academic leader can move markets.

Neil Olderman, Partner, Healthcare Practice, Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP
Modern Healthcare, April 10, 2019

I could take you all across the country, and the strongest economic centers right now are the ones that have strong academic medical centers in their core. And that's why community leaders in Charlotte have been – and should be – advocating (for a school).

Paul Umbach, Founder and President, Healthcare Consulting Firm Tripp Umbach
WFAE, April 10, 2019

What people are saying.

Charla F.

Charla F.
-Charlotte, NC

“ ... the medical field doesn't get as much attention as I think it's deserving of – and this gives the opportunity for our city to be put on the map in a new way.”

Vijal S.

Vijal S.
-Charlotte, NC

“It sounds like a great idea. There's very limited medical schools in the area so having the name of Wake Forest and the name of Atrium [Health] sounds like a win-win.”

Rebecca U.

Rebecca U.
-Cornelius, NC

“It can increase jobs - all around - not just within the medical school, but to support that. It's just a golden opportunity for me, I think. It's a good idea.”

Jaylen R.

Jaylen R.
-Charlotte, NC

“I personally think that it’s a great move. I think it’ll be beneficial to a lot of upcoming people here in the city.”

Sally D.

Sally D.
-Davidson, NC

“We're already growing in a lot of ways - in having new restaurants, having new businesses - and I think the addition of a medical school would provide another outlet for people, especially having new students and bringing more youth into Charlotte.”

Dennis M.

Dennis M.
-Charlotte, NC

“I think it's great for the city. It's a great place to live for researchers. They want to be in a city that's an exciting city and Charlotte certainly is.”

What does our community think of a medical school in Charlotte? We asked. You responded.

Watch the announcement.

Learn more about our plans.

Want more details? Read the press release.

Frequently asked questions.

  • What does the relationship among Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University mean?

    The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signals the very beginning of in-depth discussions regarding the specific details of what our coming together could ultimately become. We look forward to those discussions and to ultimately reaching an agreement that benefits North Carolina and all of the communities our organizations serve.

  • Will Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University bring a school of medicine to Charlotte?

    Charlotte is one of the largest cities in the country without a top ranked Medical School. The city and surrounding area are forecasted to grow significantly in the coming decades and Wake Forest’s ability to extend its quality academic medical talents and services provides for an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen its practices. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signals the very beginning of in-depth discussions regarding the specific details of what our coming together could ultimately become. The goal is that upon signing a definitive agreement together, Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University will immediately convene a team to start the work of bringing a modern, innovative, cost-effective and sustainable top 20 school of medicine to the Charlotte area.

  • When did these discussions start?

    As our region’s population grows and the healthcare environment continues to change, Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health are continually looking for new and innovative ways to deliver on our missions. As such, we routinely explore opportunities with like-minded organizations – always with the best interest of our patients in mind. Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health have been trusted partners in certain business matters, including MedCost, our jointly- held health care management company. Some of these discussions led to where we currently are and how we can better, together, invest in the health and well-being of people throughout the region, as well as contribute ground-breaking research and innovation to the world.

  • How does this impact our mission and vision to serve the people of North Carolina and all who walk through our doors?

    Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health each have a history of significant impacts on the communities they serve and share a common commitment to improving health in North Carolina by enhancing quality and increasing access to healthcare. The combined, complementary resources and expertise of Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University will enhance affordability and access to services across a broad geographic spectrum by achieving economies of scale and operational efficiency.

  • Have you set a deadline for completing the negotiations?

    The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signals the very beginning of in-depth discussions regarding the specific details of what our coming together could ultimately become. Though there is no hard deadline, we are hoping to have a definitive agreement and be in a position to start the joint activities by the end of 2019. We are currently doing our due diligence and have a number of details to discuss. This is an extremely exciting development for North Carolina, but we want to make sure we get it right.

  • What will the new relationship be called?

    The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signals the very beginning of in-depth discussions regarding the specific details of what our coming together could ultimately become. These are part of the discussions that will now be taking place, and the organizations will work together to mutually agree on the naming and branding.

  • Why does Atrium Health want to become an academic medical center?

    Atrium Health is known as one of the most highly integrated not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation with nearly 14 million patient interactions each year across 42 hospitals and more than 900 care locations. Wake Forest Baptist Health is a nationally-ranked academic medical center and regional health care system with 2.2 million patient interactions each year across seven hospitals and more than 400 care locations. Together, these innovative organizations have an unprecedented opportunity to create a world-class healthcare system around a single mission, strategy and set of goals designed for one purpose – to continuously improve health for all communities they serve, from large cities to small rural communities, making care more accessible and affordable for the nearly 6.8 million residents near the systems’ respective service areas.

  • What will happen to the current leadership of Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University?

    The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signals the very beginning of in-depth discussions regarding the specific details of what our coming together could ultimately become. Gene Woods will continue to be the president and CEO of Atrium Health, Dr. Julie Freischlag will continue as the CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Dr. Nathan Hatch will remain president of Wake Forest University.

  • Do Atrium Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health have evidence showing your commitment to effective population health management?

    It would be our intent through our relationship to extend the very successful collaboration with CHESS (the population health services company historically majority owned by Wake Forest Baptist Health) to a larger geography. CHESS has had noteworthy success in accelerating change to lower healthcare costs measured by the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) – the amount of premium dollars spent on healthcare – from the high 80s to the low 70s reliably over the past three to four years, while maintaining and increasing quality as measured by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and insurance companies. The MLR success has been attained within academic medical centers, community-based hospitals and physician groups. This change translates to tens of millions of dollars savings annually to payers, and ultimately employers and patients/consumers.

    Wake Forest Baptist Health is already integrating this thinking into care models throughout their network. This is another example of how by working together we would be able to scale innovative ideas from across both systems that can benefit even more people and make care more affordable for all.

  • Where can I find more information?

    Please visit BestCareforAll.org to view the latest information and send any questions to BestCareForAll@atriumhealth.org.