Investor News October 23, 2020

Atrium Health to invest $3.4B as part of Wake Forest Baptist combination

Atrium Health will invest $3.4 billion over 10 years in Wake Forest Baptist Health and the Winston-Salem area.

About $2.8 billion will go toward facilities, such as a new care tower at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with an updated emergency department, operating rooms and intensive-care units. Plans also call for an Eye Institute, targeting an aging population in North Carolina.

Funding will be available for virtual care, including behavioral health, and clinical care.

“As a combined enterprise, Atrium Health will be life-changing for the people of Winston-Salem and throughout North Carolina,” Gene Woods, CEO of Atrium Health, said in a statement. “Throughout the process of joining together Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health, we’ve worked hard to understand ways we can make a difference."

Executives were not immediately available for interviews.

Atrium said it is committing another $600 million to Wake Forest academics — including $150 million for an academic endowment for more education and research and a $70 million Academic Enrichment Fund.

Atrium and Wake Forest want to grow educational programs, biomedical research and clinical trials as part of their partnership. They also want to address disparities in health care and expand access in underserved areas.

The combination brings Charlotte another step closer to its own four-year medical school.

Atrium plans to open a second School of Medicine campus here, although leaders have not confirmed the location. The proposed campus will immediately support about 3,500 students each year in more than 100 specialized programs. It will also include an innovation center, building on the existing Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem.

About 30 to 40 third-year students from Wake Forest will start rotations in Charlotte in the spring. Atrium is phasing out its partnership with UNC Health in training third- and fourth-year students here.

Earlier this month, Atrium, Wake Forest Baptist and Wake Forest School of Medicine made their combination official, about a year and a half after first announcing those plans.

The deal is not considered an acquisition — the parties will remain intact and have separate boards, adding a combined board to govern the new enterprise. It will use the Atrium name.

“This commitment to grow our capabilities is part of what makes our strategic combination with Atrium Health so beneficial for our patients, our faculty and staff and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, chief academic officer at Atrium, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The combined entity includes 42 hospitals and more than 1,500 care locations. It employs more than 70,000 people.

The Atrium-Wake Forest deal's annual economic impact is expected to be $32.7 billion and about 183,500 jobs up front, increasing to $54 billion and 275,000 jobs by 2040, according to a recent Tripp Umbach study.

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Copyright:   – Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal