Atrium, Wake Forest Baptist seal merger forming $11.5B system

Dive Brief:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health and nearby academic medical center Wake Forest Baptist Health have completed their merger, according to a Friday announcement. The new system expects $11.5 billion in combined net revenue, an Atrium spokesperson said.
  • The combined entity will employ 70,000 people at 42 hospitals and more than 1,500 care sites. It will serve patients in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, and also plans to open a new academic medical center in Charlotte.
  • Atrium said the signing means the new enterprise takes effect immediately, as will the integration process.

Dive Insight:

M&A activity in the sector does not seem significantly diminished from the pandemic, by some measures from Kaufman Hall on third-quarter activity. Deal activity in the third quarter was up from the prior, and on par with a year earlier. Those analysts hypothesized hard times could be bringing partners together to weather uncertainty.

And the pandemic does not seemed to have changed the trajectory of the Atrium-Wake Forest deal, first announced in April 2019.

For Atrium, it comes more than two years after an earlier attempt at a deal with UNC Health in North Carolina fell through.

Atrium CEO Eugene Woods will head the newly-combined non-profit health system, with a vision “to build a ‘Silicon Valley’ for healthcare innovation spanning from Winston-Salem to Charlotte,” he said in a release.

Wake Forest School of Medicine’s second campus in Charlotte will aim to strengthen the pipeline of medical professionals who serve rural and under-served urban areas and increase the number and diversity of healthcare professionals, Atrium said.

As part of the deal, Atrium also plans to construct a new critical care, emergency department and surgery tower at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, along with a new eye institute.

Woods will head the system alongside a 16-member board of directors.

Edward Brown, currently board chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMHA) will chair the board of the new enterprise. CMHA, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and Wake Forest University will each retain their own governing boards.

Julie Ann Freischlag will serve as chief academic officer for Atrium Health, in addition to her current role as CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine.