Campus News

March 21, 2011

Report From: Health Sciences

New health care strategies enhance mission delivery for WHSC

S. Wright Caughman is interim executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of Emory Healthcare.

To serve humanity by improving health is an inarguably noble mission. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center delivers on that promise through its research and education efforts, but our ability to do so is strongly dependent on a robust patient care platform. We can only fulfill our mission when we ensure that our patients can access our lifesaving programs and services when and where they need them.

Historically, the vast majority of our patients have come through referral from local and regional physicians and hospitals. They have sent their patients to us because of our excellence in providing highly specialized and complex care. However, the evolving economic and legislative environment is changing the traditional patient referral model and forcing us to reevaluate how we ensure our patients’ access to us and our access to them.

As a result of this careful consideration, several exciting developments are under way within our health care enterprise that have the potential to expand patient access and enhance our ability to serve humanity by improving health.

First, we will reinvest in our core campus facilities on Clifton Road and in Midtown. Over the past few years, we have achieved national recognition by investing in our education and research facilities, but the external environment has forced us to pause investment in our core health delivery facilities.

Now we have been approved by the board to begin exploration of options for a new tower on Clifton Road that will house a projected 210 beds, as well as operating/interventional suites.

We’re considering all options, including traffic flow, and will present our final recommendations to the board this spring. When we receive approval, we plan to move forward with all due haste. In the meantime, we will begin immediate renovations that are needed to bring our existing health care facilities to a level that will best serve our patients. 

While investing in our core campus facilities is an absolute necessity, it is not alone sufficient to ensure patient access. Thus, in addition, we are actively pursuing two additional strategies – adding inpatient facilities and expanding our physician base and related outpatient facilities. Both strategies will solidify patient access in targeted areas.

Two very recent successes in this strategy – our transition to sole ownership of Emory Johns Creek Hospital and our newly announced partnership with Saint Joseph’s Health System – will allow us to better serve our patients both in the North Georgia market and throughout the state by providing greater access to outstanding care. Our partnership with Saint Joseph’s will also contribute to our continuing goals to enhance and grow our physician network.

These strategies present an exciting new opportunity for the effective and efficient provision of high-quality health care for all the people who count on us. We are very excited about the future and look forward to enhancing our ability to provide compassionate, outstanding health care to our community – and to thereby ensure the fulfillment of our lifesaving and life-affirming missions across health care service, research and education.

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