Emory Report
June 12, 2006
Volume 58, Number 32


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June 12 , 2006
Transforming health and healing:
A vision for the 21st century

BY Dana Goldman

In an ambitious bid to “transform the face of health and healing in the 21st century,” Michael Johns, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, has announced a comprehensive multi-year plan to establish Emory’s eminence in patient-centered, research-driven, collaborative healthcare.

Speaking before a packed house at the WHSCAB Auditorium on Thursday, Johns remarked on the need for such a bold move by Emory. “Science is enabling—and society is requiring—that we transition from “reparative” medicine to preventative medicine and nursing, and to predictive and proactive public health,” he said.

Johns remarks capped a celebratory day for the University as the WHSCAB and University boards of trustees accepted the results of a nine-month feasibility study and authorized the preparation of architectural schematic design for new hospital and outpatient facilities.

“We must transition our hospitals and clinics, our research and our training, to the new integrated and collaborative models that will enable new forms of health and healing in this century. Our target,” said Johns, “is to lead the paradigm shift from a focus on disease to a focus on health.”

The plan is called Vision 2012: Transforming Health and Healing. It seeks to establish Emory as one of the top 10 centers in the United States for 21st century models of healthcare by the year 2012.

In addition to the new hospital and outpatient complex, Johns’ roadmap encompasses the construction of new academic buildings and the implementation of innovative university-wide healthcare initiatives.
A planned new 200,000-square-foot Rollins School of Public Health building will serve as the central home for projects and faculty currently spread out in seven buildings on Emory’s campus. The space will also facilitate Emory’s new Global Health Initiative, which will coordinate Emory’s campus-wide efforts to create and support international health programs.

An Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Initiative already underway will ultimately include a Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being. The center will develop models of good health, facilitate clinical research into health predictors, disease risk, and interventions, and offer clinical care.

The plan also calls for the establishment of Centers of Excellence that will, according to Johns, “become models of the types of integrated, patient-centered research and clinical care that we will pioneer.” Centers that have already been approved are in the areas of neurosciences, cardiovascular, transplant, lung and cancer, and will emphasize teams of inter-professional caregivers, interdisciplinary training, and a high level of information sharing. Other centers currently being considered include women’s health, healthy aging, and obesity and nutrition.

Johns also announced changes off of the main Emory campus. At the Yerkes Field Station in Lawrenceville, an additional facility will be built for animal housing, research laboratories, and administrative offices. At the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, research space for the School of Medicine will expand.

While focused on health sciences, the developments described by Johns support Emory’s Campus Master Plan announced last fall. The historic Emory University Hospital building is identified in the plan as a candidate for refurbishment as the University’s new main administration building, at the head of a new academic quadrangle mirroring and extending the current quad to the east.

“It could become a vital new academic and administrative center for the University campus, providing a significant new site for expanding and enhancing many university priorities,” said Johns. “There are many exciting possibilities there.”

In addition, academic fields that have not traditionally been associated with health sciences will contribute to an ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue about health and healing. “Integrating the humanistic disciplines, including anthropology, ethics, behavior, health policy, law, business and religion, is essential,” Johns explained.

“With our great strengths in these and related areas,” he continued, “Emory University is a perfect place to become not just the clinical and scientific leader, but also the thought leader in transforming health and healing.”