Wellstar Health System (wellstar.org) has long served as Atlanta’s premier healthcare provider. We caught up with president and CEO Candice L. Saunders about how Wellstar’s storied past informs its bright future.
Photo courtesy of Wellstar Health System
How did Wellstar come to be?
Wellstar’s roots date back to dirty laundry! In the late 1980s and 1990s, the idea of ‘managed care’ emerged, leading to hospitals and medical practices consolidating. Two friendly rivals in the suburbs of Cobb County—Kennestone Hospital and Cobb General Hospital—began discussing a merger and agreed to partner on a smaller scale first: laundry. Both had outdated laundry facilities and decided to share one renovated facility—a project that served as the foundation of what later became Wellstar.
How has Wellstar’s approach to providing care changed over the past two years?
The pandemic has created both immense challenge and immense opportunity. For example, it accelerated the adoption of virtual healthcare. The pandemic has also driven important collaboration, as seen through efforts such as team members redeploying to fight surges at key facilities. It has also highlighted the importance caring for and prioritizing the health and wellness of valued team members, leading Wellstar to amplify our resources and enhance our team’s well-being as people, whether that’s extra time off, access to counseling or onsite Wellness Rooms where team members can relax and recharge.
What is Wellstar’s healthcare philosophy?
Wellstar Health System’s culture has always been ‘people first.’ Enhancing the health and well-being of every person we serve is more than our mission, it’s who we are, and the pandemic has only amplified that ethos. Even in the most challenging of circumstances, we are guided by our commitment to caring for our people—our patients, our team members and our communities.
What makes Wellstar stand out from other healthcare options in Atlanta?
What sets Wellstar apart is our commitment to caring for people as individuals—a commitment that permeates throughout our entire organization. We say that we provide more than healthcare, we provide PeopleCare. That means listening to each person’s needs to tailor care to that person, understanding their story and supporting their whole-person well-being. On the community level, that means tailoring services, programs and partnerships based on the needs of each unique community we serve.
What can we expect to see from Wellstar in the future?
As we look to the future, we know that people are looking for healthcare that is more convenient and easier to access—when, where and how they want it. That’s why Wellstar is focused on how we can expand the ways we care for the people we serve by leveraging advanced digital tools and technologies. We want to partner with patients to empower them to live their healthiest lives. As an important first step, in May 2021, Wellstar launched Catalyst by Wellstar, a global digital health and innovation center that aims to transform healthcare by harnessing problems, solutions, investments and partnerships across industries.