Wellstar Kennestone Hospital Wins Best in Real Estate Award
Primary care for you and your family, close to home.
As the weather starts to warm and flowers bloom, spring is in the air – and so is pollen.
If you deal with frustrating symptoms like a stuffy nose, sneezing or watery eyes, you’re not alone. Each year, more than 50 million people in the United States have allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Wellstar knows every Achoo! can impact your daily life, making it difficult to enjoy outside activities with family and friends. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, you can use simple strategies to take control of your seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to certain environmental triggers, such as pollen from trees, grass or flowers. Your body’s reaction to these allergens can include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, red or itchy eyes, throat irritation and post-nasal drip.
By playing it smart and planning ahead, you can take steps to relieve your allergy symptoms. Follow the helpful tips below to say goodbye to seasonal allergies:
• Masks make a cool accessory. Wearing a mask can not only keep others safe from COVID-19, but also prevent you from breathing in pollen and other allergens.
• Try over-the-counter medications. Consult your Wellstar provider about common allergy remedies like antihistamines and nasal spray.
• Check the weather report. Avoid outside activities on days that are dry, windy or have a high pollen count of 1,000 or more.
• Don’t invite allergens inside. Keep windows and doors shut to prevent pollen from blowing into your home and contaminating surfaces.
• Stay on top of spring cleaning. Dust and vacuum often to remove potential allergens, such as dust, dander and pollen.
• Don’t forget your four-legged friends. Be sure to wash or brush your pets more often to remove loose fur and dander.
When at-home remedies aren’t enough, Wellstar Allergy & Immunology is ready to care for you. If your symptoms are severe, you may need specialized treatment for allergies or be dealing with a chronic condition, such as asthma.
At Wellstar, we diagnose and treat a full range of adult and pediatric allergy conditions. Our allergists will partner with you to create a personalized care plan, which may include allergy shots, prescription medication or other therapies.
Don’t sneeze or sniffle through another season. Wellstar provides the world-class, tailored allergy care you need at convenient locations across metro Atlanta.
Click the “Book Now” button at the top of any page to schedule an appointment.
Wellstar Kennestone Hospital Wins Best in Real Estate Award
Wellstar named Great Place to Work® & Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®
Wellstar Health System is recognized as one of the best companies to work for in the country for the fourth time; People-centric programs, benefits, and culture foster an inclusive, team-based workplace
Great Place to Work® and Fortune have honored Wellstar Health System, one of the largest and most integrated healthcare systems in Georgia, as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For®. This is Wellstar’s fourth time on this prestigious, national list. Wellstar is the only Georgia-based healthcare company included in the 2021 ranking; only two other companies headquartered in Georgia were included in this year’s list.
“In a year of immeasurable challenges, our Wellstar team members and caregivers have remained focused on our mission to enhance the health and well-being of everyone we serve,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “Earning the 100 Best Companies to Work For award is a testament to their bravery and unwavering commitment to providing people-centric care for millions of Georgians.”
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® award is based on analysis of survey responses from more than half a million current employees across the U.S. In that survey, 79% of Wellstar’s employees said Wellstar is a great place to work. By comparison, the average percentage of employees in the U.S. who say their company is a great place to work is only 59%.
"Offering the resources, support, and workplace culture team members need to be their best benefits everyone and everything we do,” said David Jones, executive vice president and chief human resources officer, Wellstar Health System. “We care for our employees so they can care for our community. We are grateful for the recognition from Fortune and, especially, for the all the people who make Wellstar a great place to work.”
Preventing Cancer with Wellstar’s Genetics Experts
While Wellstar’s expert cancer specialists are well-equipped to help their patients fight cancer, they’re also dedicated to stopping cancer before it starts.
Part of preventing cancer is knowing your risk and taking action early. Wellstar’s Genetic Risk Assessment Program helps patients determine whether they may be at higher risk for some cancers.
At Wellstar, our focus is PeopleCare: personalized healthcare tailored just for you. For cancer care, that means taking a close look at what makes you unique — your distinct genetic makeup that sets you apart. Genetic counselors use a compassionate approach to guide patients and their families so they can make informed healthcare decisions.
“We are the busiest genetic counseling program in Georgia,” said Dr. Michael Andrews, Wellstar’s chief cancer officer. “Cancer care now is very genetically-based, and the specialists in our program can look for certain abnormalities and adapt treatments based on what they find.”
Genetic mutations play a major role in about 5 to 10% of cancers. A patient with a family history of cancer who learns they have specific genetic mutations can partner with their provider to be more proactive, whether that involves screening, lifestyle changes or medical treatments. Taking a few proactive steps could prevent cancer, even if the patient’s genetics may put them at a higher risk.
Genetic testing can also benefit cancer patients and empower their whole families with important information. If a cancer patient learns they carry a mutation, it can help relatives decide if they could benefit from genetic testing. Also, people who have certain cancers and also have specific DNA sequences may benefit from targeted therapies.
Some possible signs of hereditary cancer include:
Some gene mutations can increase your cancer risk, so if your provider finds that you are affected, they may recommend increased screenings and other precautions to monitor your health.
Take charge of your health — and maybe help out a family member, too — by learning more about how your genetics could affect your cancer risk. Call (470) 793-7472 to book an appointment with a Wellstar genetic counselor. Both in-person and virtual visits are available. Learn more at wellstar.org/cancercare.
Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. National President and CEO, Members Get COVID-19 Vaccine at Wellstar
Wellstar and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., the largest African American women's organization in the world with more than 350,000 college-educated members, have united to reach vaccine-reticent populations in Georgia by sharing personal “My Why” stories and reasons for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Who: Beverly E. Smith, national president and CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., joined Wellstar team members in sharing a personal reflection about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. A recent poll found that Black voters in Georgia are less sure about vaccine safety than another racial or ethnic group, with 36 percent reporting that they are unsure if the vaccine is safe or not. The video aims to tackle these concerns and offer hope for the future as more Georgians become fully vaccinated. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. national president and CEO, Beverly E. Smith, joins Wellstar team members in sharing a personal reflection about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
When a patient has a stroke, every second matters. Each minute that ticks by could be the difference between a permanent stroke and a return to routine. So at North Fulton, Cindy’s care team assembled quickly to save her brainpower.
Wellstar Health System Partners with Morehouse School of Medicine's National COVID-19 Resiliency Network to Support and Informed At-Risk Populations
Responding to vital needs among vulnerable communities during the pandemic, Wellstar is the first Georgia-based health system to become a national partner in new initiative
Wellstar Health System has joined Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) of partners to further inform community-driven response, recovery, and resiliency strategies for addressing the impact of COVID-19 on communities.
In response to the needs of at-risk communities across the health system’s service areas, Wellstar has partnered with the MSM-NCRN and its 40 network partners across the U.S. to collaborate on offering COVID-19-related services to disproportionately impacted communities. As a not-for-profit system dedicated to providing “More than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” Wellstar is committed to addressing inequities that impact the health and well-being of people and communities through more than 450 community partnerships, Wellstar Community Health initiatives, and activities led by the Wellstar Center for Health Equity (WCHE).
One of the most critical barriers to health during the pandemic has been consumer access to reliable, science-based, culturally appropriate, and native language information resources, which the partnership will facilitate. Wellstar is the first Georgia-based health system to become a national partner in this important, new initiative.
“Wellstar is pleased to partner with Morehouse School of Medicine to provide vital information and resources for at-risk communities,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “The NCRN is a strong complement to the important work that our Wellstar Center for Health Equity is doing, and we are thankful for the collaboration.”
Morehouse School of Medicine’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network Builds Community Resiliency
The MSM-NCRN coordinates a strategic and structured national network of national, state/territorial/tribal and local public and community-based organizations that, together, will work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority and rural populations. The network helps to provide awareness of culturally appropriate health education information and linkage to care, helping organizations and families recover from pandemic difficulties. In addition to educational and informational resources in at least 10 languages to accommodate cultural competency, initiatives will include COVID-19 testing, vaccinations following phases directed by DPH, training opportunities for community leaders.
“Our national network connects individuals, families, community organizations and clinical providers to timely and relevant COVID-19 information and services in their neighborhood,” says Dominic Mack, MD, MBA, professor of family medicine and director of the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network in the National Center for Primary Care at MSM.
“Morehouse School of Medicine’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network is designed to not only provide structure to the resources that are on the ground-level fighting this pandemic but is an important resource for our partners in serving the underserved and getting people the healthcare they need,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD., MSM president and dean. “Organizations such as Wellstar here in Georgia, its Wellstar Center for Health Equity, and the partnerships we cultivate, are critically important to the mission of health equity and in fighting and defeating COVID-19.”
Wellstar Center for Health Equity Addresses Health Inequities across Georgia
The WCHE addresses health inequities across Georgia to enhance the health and well-being of the people and communities served by Wellstar. Through partnerships such as the one with MSM-NCRN, the WCHE implements multi-disciplinary approaches to address deeply entrenched social disparities and healthcare gaps. Programs led by the WCHE over the past year include walk-up, pop-up COVID-19 family testing; distribution of masks and safety kits to at-risk communities; Congregational Health Network communications, collaboration, information, and support; Spanish-language educational information for Latinx communities; a technology-driven Community Transformation initiative for local non-profits; joint Webinars on health equity topics in collaboration with Partnership for Southern Equity, Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI), and Georgia Health Policy Center; and a series of “Mobile Market” free farmer’s market-style grocery shopping experiences for hundreds of families with Goodr.
The partnership between Wellstar and MSM-NCRN will extend the organizations’ reach and resources to enhance information access and drive positive impact.
The NCRN launch follows a $40 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to coordinate a strategic network focused on delivering COVID-19-related information to communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The launch of the NCRN occurs alongside the release of new digital technology accessible through the NCRN website. It provides location-based recommendations on where community members can get a COVID-19 test or receive a COVID-19 vaccine when distribution increases in the coming months.
ABOUT MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission—the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit www.msm.edu or call (404) 752-1500.
ValerieCare: Spine surgery success at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital
Valerie Orff was done with excruciating pain.
After suffering with severe back aches for 30 years, the Roswell resident had tried everything. Massage therapy, chiropractic care and even dry needling. But nothing provided permanent relief — until she went to Wellstar.
When Valerie’s pain, which had been steadily worsening over the past eight years, got to the point where she couldn’t play soccer with her grandchild, dance or sit on a motorcycle (one of her favorite past times), she told her primary care physician she needed a true solution. That’s when Wellstar stepped in.
Dr. Basheer Shakir, a neurosurgeon at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital, carefully and thoroughly examined Valerie and discovered what had been bringing her discomfort and slowing her down — a disc in her back was degenerating, and one of her vertebrae was moving back and forth on another one, instead of staying in place.
“This was causing back and leg pain that affected her daily activities and quality of life,” Dr. Shakir said.
Dr. Shakir knew Valerie was hesitant about getting surgery. But after spending time getting to know Valerie, and learning about her busy, active lifestyle, the two decided on a minimally invasive surgery that could quickly get her back to her routine.
Valerie’s Wellstar team was able to perform a fusion operation by accessing the disc through her side, without traumatizing the muscles in her back. This shortened her hospital stay, minimized her pain after surgery and accelerated her recovery.
Although she had initially been nervous about spine surgery, Valerie said Dr. Shakir listened to her concerns, presented all her options and explained everything in detail so she knew what to expect. In short, he treated her as much more than just a “neuro patient,” but as a person.
Now, 12 weeks after surgery, Valerie is pain-free for the first time in three decades.
“I put my faith and trust in him, and now I can’t even tell you how good it is to get up every day and go to bed with no back aches. I sleep through the night, go to the gym and lost 15 pounds,” she said.
Wellstar Hires Chief Information and Digital Officer to Head Healthcare Journey and Consumer Experience Innovation
Physician leader and digital healthcare strategist Hank Capps, MD, to drive next-generation healthcare delivery strategy for leading health system.
Wellstar has hired Hank Capps, MD, as executive vice president and chief information and digital officer. In his role, Dr. Capps will be responsible for advancing the system’s digital strategy to reimagine and enhance the consumer healthcare journey and experience, while evolving and optimizing the not-for-profit company’s operational technology-based platforms, processes, and partnerships.
Dr. Capps joins Wellstar after more than 18 years with Novant Health in North Carolina, where he held a series of clinical and administrative roles as an executive leader. His proven skills and expertise as an accomplished operator and digital healthcare strategist will further equip Wellstar to leverage advanced technology to transform healthcare with deeper patient engagement and consumer control.
“At Wellstar, we put people at the center of everything we do, and that includes our digital strategy,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “As both healthcare delivery and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, Wellstar is focused on how to accelerate and leverage the intersection of these two industries to improve patient care and outcomes. Dr. Capps is the experienced and visionary leader we need to define the path forward for our system and the communities we serve.”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented shift in the healthcare industry, resulting in consumer and provider demand for next-generation care and tools. Dr. Capps will head a team of technology and digital healthcare experts to identify gaps and opportunities in healthcare delivery and consumer engagement to create innovative, world-class solutions that fulfill this expectation.
“Wellstar’s industry leadership in healthcare excellence is grounded in continually and intentionally enhancing both the patient and provider experience,” said Dr. Capps. “The pandemic has impacted the dynamic of that consumer journey, accelerating technology adoption and exacerbating the need for creative solutions that enable access to quality care. I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Wellstar team as we leverage emerging technology and innovative thinking to transform the future of healthcare.”
Wellstar Center For Health Equity Virtual Town Hall To Address Community Questions About COVID-19 and Vaccines
The Wellstar Center for Health Equity will host a Virtual Town Hall this Thursday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. to address community questions about COVID-19 and vaccines. To register, visit wellstar.org/townhall
Marietta, Ga. (MARCH 2, 2021) — Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, is hosting a Wellstar Center for Health Equity Virtual Town Hall with its Congregational Health Network this week.
What: The event, held in collaboration with the Wellstar Congregational Health Network, Morehouse School of Medicine National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (MSM-NCRN), and Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI), will address pertinent questions about COVID-19 and vaccines with faith communities across Georgia. The 90-minute event will feature a panel of healthcare experts, including Wellstar and Morehouse School of Medicine physicians, who will address questions provided by the community in advance of and during the event, including the latest information and resources to combat COVID-19.
When: The Virtual Town Hall will be held via Zoom on Thursday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. and will offer participants the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from healthcare experts who are dedicated to community education and outreach. Faith leaders and congregation members are invited to register at wellstar.org/townhall.
Panel: The panel of experts will include Dr. Tabia Henry Akintobi, Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. Jeffrey Hines, Wellstar Center for Health Equity; and Dr. Zandraetta Tims-Cook, Wellstar Medical Group.
ABOUT WELLSTAR HEALTH SYSTEM
At Wellstar, people are at the center of everything we do. By listening actively to what people want, need and expect from their healthcare, Wellstar is able to provide “More than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” — at every age and stage. Nationally ranked and locally recognized for our personal, high-quality care, inclusive culture, and exceptional doctors and team members, Wellstar provides access to compassionate, high-quality care through our: 11 hospitals; 300+ medical office locations; 9 cancer centers; 74 rehabilitation centers; 3 hospice facilities; 1 retirement village; 29 imaging centers; 16 urgent care locations; and 5 health parks. As one of the largest and most integrated healthcare systems in Georgia, Wellstar is growing our services, footprint, capabilities, and ability to meet evolving patient needs. Our passion for people extends into the communities we serve. As a not-for-profit health system, we thoughtfully reinvest annually in prevention and wellness programs, as well as charity care for eligible patients. Our Wellstar Foundation also supports our mission to enhance the health and well-being of every person we serve with funding for equipment, services, and programs that provide more than healthcare.
Wellstar Health System and Sharecare Enter Partnership to Deliver Innovative, Personalized Health and Wellness Platform for Team Members and Consumers
Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, and Sharecare, the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place, announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on unique, market-leading innovations in personalized care delivery, population health, and consumer engagement.
“People are at the center of everything we do,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “Our partnership with Sharecare was forged to deliver an innovative experience that will engage and empower people in improving their health and wellness in unprecedented ways. Together, we are building on our vision for the healthcare system of the future that empowers the consumer.”
Wellstar will leverage Sharecare’s digital engagement platform and expertise to equip its team members with enhanced resources and health information to take control of their day-to-day well-being. Through this partnership, Wellstar also will become the first “Sharecare-enabled” health system in the country, utilizing Sharecare’s solutions to accelerate the transformation to value-based care and applying resulting insights to optimize, expand, and, ultimately, re-imagine the overall consumer healthcare experience.
Sharecare delivers each person a customized digital experience where they can easily access extensive information, engagement resources, and clinically validated tools to improve their individual health and well-being, no matter where they are in their health journey. In Summer 2021, Wellstar will roll out Sharecare’s award-winning virtual care platform to its 24,000 team members to help them manage their overall physical and mental well-being and navigate related employee benefits, all in one place. In addition to the comprehensive content and resources already available through Sharecare, the two organizations will focus on innovating incentives and rewards administration that tie to engagement and outcomes and capitalize on existing Wellstar workplace well-being strategies and programs, such as employee fitness centers and biometric screening programs.
“Our team members are dedicated to caring for Georgians each and every day,” said Saunders. “That’s why it’s important that we care for them with world-class solutions that equip them to be at their best.”
As the country’s first Sharecare-enabled health system, Wellstar will work with Sharecare to co-develop consumer-facing offerings—available in Georgia through Wellstar exclusively through 2023—to achieve better health outcomes. To accomplish this, Wellstar will integrate its electronic medical record system with the Sharecare platform and utilize the digital health company’s robust portfolio of provider solutions, data management tools, and artificial intelligence capabilities to better identify and close gaps in care. Once a condition or potential care gap is identified, Wellstar providers can “prescribe” patients with additional information, digital therapeutics, and clinical programs through the secure, unified Sharecare platform, where in turn people can access those resources, monitor their progress, and, ultimately, become more engaged in their overall health and well-being.
“In addition to supporting our client partners throughout the pandemic, we have also continued to innovate and make strategic acquisitions—the collective impact of which has yielded new strategic opportunities, including accelerating our ability to bring our vision for the Sharecare-enabled health system to life,” said Jeff Arnold, founder, chairman, and CEO of Sharecare. “The key, however, was finding the right health system partner—one who shared our commitment to not only compassionate, community-driven care but also digital innovation and optimizing patient-clinician encounters through data. As a Georgian, I take pride in the fact that the ideal partner to help us realize this vision is Wellstar.”
To support the definition and development of the consumer-facing offerings, Wellstar has made a $10 million strategic investment in Sharecare, joining several investors who also are customers. The firms will collaborate on platform deployment, integration, and content strategy to drive value for all audiences, with a focus on the consumerization of healthcare and evolving the consumer healthcare experience. As Sharecare’s newest strategic partner, Wellstar is joining the company’s already impressive roster of investors, whose reach extends from the living room to doctors’ exam rooms and into the workplace. Select Sharecare strategic partners include hospitals, healthcare investment firms, and health plans, in particular HCA, Trinity Health, the Heritage Healthcare Innovation Fund and CareFirst; media companies Discovery Communications, Harpo Productions, and Sony Pictures Television; high-growth technology investment firms such as Claritas Capital; noted institutional investment funds such as Wellington Management; and other major reputable corporations such as Aflac Corporate Ventures, Quest Diagnostics, Wells Fargo, and Swiss Re. The partnership between Sharecare and Wellstar is the first of its kind for the two organizations.
The closing date of the strategic investment from Wellstar preceded the February 12, 2021 announcement that Sharecare has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: FCAC), a special purpose acquisition company.
At Wellstar, people are at the center of everything we do. By listening actively to what people want, need and expect from their healthcare, Wellstar is able to provide “More than Healthcare. PeopleCare.”—at every age and stage. Nationally ranked and locally recognized for our personal, high-quality care, inclusive culture, and exceptional doctors and team members, Wellstar provides access to compassionate, high-quality care through our: 11 hospitals; 300+ medical office locations; 9 cancer centers; 74 rehabilitation centers; 3 hospice facilities; 1 retirement village; 29 imaging centers; 16 urgent care locations; and 5 health parks. As one of the largest and most integrated healthcare systems in Georgia, Wellstar is growing our services, footprint, capabilities, and ability to meet evolving patient needs. Our passion for people extends into the communities we serve. As a not-for-profit health system, we thoughtfully reinvest annually in prevention and wellness programs, as well as charity care for eligible patients. Our Wellstar Foundation also supports our mission to enhance the health and well-being of every person we serve with funding for equipment, services, and programs that provide more than healthcare.
Sharecare is the leading digital health company that helps people—no matter where they are in their health journey—unify and manage all their health in one place. Our comprehensive and data-driven virtual health platform is designed to help people, providers, employers, health plans, government organizations, and communities optimize individual and population-wide well-being by driving positive behavior change. Driven by our philosophy that we are all together better, at Sharecare, we are committed to supporting each individual through the lens of their personal health and making high-quality care more accessible and affordable for everyone. To learn more, visit sharecare.com.
Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp. is a newly incorporated blank check company whose business purpose is to effect a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses or entities. While the Company may pursue on initial business combination opportunity in any industry or sector, it intends to focus on business in the media, digital media/consumer technology, mobile gaming, interactive entertainment, health wellness/lifestyle and related industries which capitalize on its management team's expertise. The Company's management team is led by Alan G. Mnuchin, the founder and chief executive officer of Ariliam Group. The Company has formed an investment partnership with Eagle Equity Partners, which is a founding investor in the Company's sponsor. For more information about Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp., please visit falconequityinvestors.com.
In connection with the proposed business combination, FCAC has filed a registration statement on Form S-4 (the "Registration Statement") with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), which includes a proxy statement/prospectus, and certain other related documents, to be used at the meeting of FCAC stockholders to approve the proposed business combination. Investors and security holders of FCAC are urged to read the proxy statement/prospectus, any amendments thereto and other relevant documents that will be filed with the SEC carefully and in their entirety when they become available because they will contain important information about Sharecare, FCAC and the proposed business combination. The definitive proxy statement/prospectus will be mailed to stockholders of FCAC as of a record date to be established for voting on the proposed business combination. Investors and security holders will also be able to obtain copies of the Registration Statement and other documents containing important information about the business combination and the parties to the business combination once such documents are filed with the SEC, without charge, at the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov, or by directing a request to: Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp., 660 Madison Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10065, Attention: Saif Rahman, Chief Financial Oﬃcer.
FCAC and its directors and executive oﬃcers, under SEC rules, may be deemed participants in the solicitation of proxies from FCAC's stockholders with respect to the proposed business combination. A list of the names of those directors and executive oﬃcers and a description of their interests in FCAC is contained in the final prospectus for FCAC's initial public oﬀering, which was filed with the SEC on September 23, 2020, and is available free of charge at the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov, or by directing a request to Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp., 660 Madison Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10065, Attention: Saif Rahman, Chief Financial Oﬃcer. Additional information regarding the interests of such participants will be set forth in the proxy statement/prospectus for the proposed business combination when available. Each of Sharecare and its directors, executive oﬃcers and other members of its management and employees, under SEC rules, may also be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of FCAC in connection with the proposed business combination. A list of the names of such directors and executive oﬃcers and information regarding their interests in the business combination will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus for the proposed business combination when available.
Wellstar: PeopleCare Online
At Wellstar, people are at the center of everything we do, from compassionate medical care in hundreds of locations across Georgia to your online experience of accessing that care. That's why we've redesigned our website with you in mind.
Our new website is crafted to enhance your healthcare experience and features a clean, modern layout that will make it even easier for you to access physicians, make appointments, find services and locations nearby, and so much more.
The new and improved wellstar.org is part of the ongoing evolution of the Wellstar brand and yet another example of PeopleCare. We want to make sure that you get the information and resources you need as quickly as possible.
The updated, mobile-friendly online presence will help you find critical resources in just a few taps. You can easily locate helpful features like “Find a Doctor” and “Pay Your Bill” directly on the homepage. If you are visiting another page on the website, simply click the “For Patients and Families” tab on the top left of the menu bar.
Some key resources on Wellstar's new website include:
Get the most up-to-date information from our health experts by heading to the COVID-19 Resource Center. You'll receive the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccine, testing and other helpful tips like how to care for a sick loved one and managing your mental health during the pandemic.
In addition to the user-friendly design and up-to-date information, our new modern platform provides enhanced stability and security. That means you can always feel safe when browsing our website or paying your bill online.
This launch is just the beginning for wellstar.org, as we continue to address the ever-changing healthcare needs of the community. We hope you like our new digital home!
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com.
John Petrick loves the simple things in life. He revels in time spent with family, reeling in a big catch and feeling the crisp wind in his face during a morning bike ride.
However, for a man that enjoys such simple pleasures, John’s heart health is quite complicated. For a long time, his well-being felt like a puzzle that no one could quite figure out.
John’s complex heart issues first began over two decades ago, when he nearly died after his heart suddenly went into an abnormal rhythm.
After the life-threatening heart episode, specialists in California diagnosed him with ventricular tachycardia (VT), a severe heart condition in which abnormal electrical signals cause the heart to beat faster. Then later, he was also diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular and rapid heart rhythm that can cause heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
From defibrillators to heart surgeries, John and his Californian care team worked hard to manage the ups and downs of his heart conditions. But after spending years in the Golden State, John was ready to take on a new adventure: moving over 2,000 miles away to Georgia.
“The decision to move to Georgia was difficult because of my heart conditions,” John shared. “I needed a doctor who would really take the time to sort everything out.”
Luckily, it wasn’t long before John was connected with an entire team of Wellstar heart experts delivering comprehensive care all within the same health system.
Before being referred for specialty care by his Wellstar primary care provider, John briefly received heart care from another health system in Georgia. However, he had some reservations about his treatment.
“Honestly, it wasn’t the level of care – especially in terms of empathy – that I was used to,” he admitted. “And that’s a scary situation when you have a condition like mine.”
That was never a problem at Wellstar. As soon as he met with Wellstar Health System Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Dr. Narendra Kanuru, John knew the physician was in his corner.
“I could tell Dr. Kanuru really took the time to study my case,” John said, remembering his first visit with the specialist. “He recited my medical history from the last 20 years, without having to look at any papers.”
Since then, they have developed a great healthcare partnership, always keeping an open line of communication.
“I feel so comfortable expressing any fears or apprehensions about my conditions or treatment with Dr. Kanuru. He’s always very receptive,” John shared. “His level of empathy, professional expertise and ability to communicate and understand me is just as valuable as his technical, medical skills.”
Along with Dr. Kanuru’s expertise, Wellstar Cardiologist Dr. David Caras provides an essential complement to John’s cardiovascular care. While a cardiac electrophysiologist hones in on the functional and rhythmic areas of the heart, a cardiologist offers a broad spectrum of heart care.
While each focusing on their areas of expertise, the two heart specialists collaborate to create the best treatment plan for John, and adjust it along the way.
“Dr. Kanuru and Dr. Caras work together as a team,” John said. “It’s truly remarkable and beautiful. Often, I’ll go to see one of the doctors and they’ll mention a conversation they had about me with the other recently.”
If “adventure” were a gene, John Petrick surely passed it on to his daughter, Janin.
The father-daughter duo has always wanted to experience everything life has to offer. Together, the pair has survived an avalanche in the Alaskan wilderness, spent the night stranded on a cliff and even made a cross-country move from California to Georgia.
But one thing they never expected to have in common was a rare heart condition.
Instead of putting their shared adventures on pause, John and Janin teamed up with Wellstar in different ways to manage their heart conditions. With an entire team of heart specialists working seamlessly together, the pair found the expert, specialized cardiac care they needed – and it never skipped a beat.
For more than two decades, John managed the ups and downs of atrial fibrillation (Afib) and ventricular tachycardia (VT) with specialists in California. But after moving cross-country to Georgia, he had to start over from scratch.
With such complex heart conditions and a more recent diagnosis of congestive heart failure, John knew he couldn’t trust his care to just anyone. At Wellstar, he soon found an expansive, multidisciplinary team – including cardiologists, electrophysiologists and surgeons.
Similarly, Wellstar would also end up helping John’s daughter, Janin, following her treatment for a severe heart episode – one that was strikingly similar to her father’s. After several spells of faintness, Janin was equipped with a Holter monitor, a wearable device that records heart rhythms.
“After just 18 hours, I got a call from my doctor’s office. My electrophysiologist was gravely concerned about the readings,” Janin recalled. “Apparently, the night before, my heart had completely stopped for five seconds. And, at that very moment, I was in a dangerous arrhythmia.”
Just like her father, Janin was diagnosed with VT and an atrioventricular block, which occurs when the electrical signals traveling from the upper chambers of the heart to the lowers chambers is blocked.
She soon got a defibrillator implanted to help keep her heart in regular rhythm. As Janin started to get back on track after the surgery, her doctor felt more answers could be uncovered. At her electrophysiologist’s suggestion, she participated in genetic testing.
At Wellstar, John underwent the same genetic testing to see if any clues about their heart conditions could be uncovered in their DNA. With just a simple blood draw, the Wellstar Genetics team can get an inside look at the hereditary markers for certain genetic conditions.
After sharing so many adventures and similar personality traits, it was no surprise when the results revealed the same exact abnormality in both of their genes.
However, the genetic discovery – playfully nicknamed the “Janin Genome” by John and his daughter – was a first for the heart specialists. While genetic tests for other heart conditions like cardiac disease may be more commonplace, testing for arrhythmic heart disorders like VT is rare.
“When we got the results, they told us, ‘We've never seen this before – such an identical test result, regarding the same gene and the same anomaly affecting heart rhythm,’” John said. “The doctors concluded there may be a genetic connection to our heart problems, and it was worth paying attention to and exploring further.”
The Petricks are now in the process of getting the genetic testing done for the whole family, so all of their loved ones can take charge of their own wellness.
“After we had our testing, it was a starting point for our family,” Janin said, explaining how the genetic testing had a positive ripple effect for her family members. “We encouraged every single one of our blood relatives to go through genetic testing.”
Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & the COVID-19 Vaccine
As you prepare to welcome a new little one to your family, you are faced with so many decisions about childbirth and parenting, which have been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this exciting but possibly stressful time, your Wellstar provider can guide you through these difficult choices, taking into account your personal medical history and your unique pregnancy situation.
Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines against COVID-19, many patients have questions about how getting the vaccine could affect pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As vaccine supplies become more plentiful and eligibility expands to more age groups, OB/GYN experts recommend that vaccines be offered to those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Here is their guidance for new mothers considering the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women are more likely than people who are not pregnant to experience severe illness, be admitted to the ICU and need to use a ventilator for breathing. There is also a higher risk of death from COVID-19.
Don’t worry about the vaccines altering you or your baby’s genetic material—that’s not how the mRNA vaccines currently available work. The CDC and ACOG agree that the vaccine cannot cause any genetic changes in you or your baby because they do not enter the nucleus of cells, where DNA is housed. The vaccines trigger a protein response in your body that helps build immunity. For more information on how the vaccines work, check out Wellstar’s COVID-19 Community Toolkit.
The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine confirms these vaccines cannot give you or your baby COVID-19. The vaccines currently available contain mRNA, not any form of the COVID-19 virus.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and ACOG both recommend that those trying to become pregnant or considering a future pregnancy still get vaccinated. You will not have to delay or avoid pregnancy after getting both doses of the vaccine. There is also no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because you got the vaccine.
ACOG recommends that COVID-19 vaccines be offered to lactating women. The Association of Breastfeeding Medicine agrees and says there is no need to avoid starting or to stop breastfeeding if you get the shot.
If you have any questions about the vaccine’s effect on pregnancy or fertility, a discussion with your women’s health provider could help you make an informed decision together. A phone call or virtual visit with your caregiver is a safe and easy way to get more answers about the COVID-19 vaccine.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the foremost professional membership organization for obstetricians and gynecologists. It is comprised of over 60,000 members (board-certified OBGYNs) spanning the entire career lifecycle.
Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) is the professional society made up of OBGYNs with advanced training and focus on high-risk pregnancies and conditions.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is the professional society made up of OBGYNs with advanced training and focus on infertility.
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) is a global community of medical doctors with diverse backgrounds and specialties creating a network of experts and advocates to drive breastfeeding medicine forward.
Vital Valentines: Celebrating Our Healthcare Heroes
You may be wondering why Valentine’s Day has become such a big deal for a healthcare system like Wellstar. It’s because we aren’t sending our heartfelt thanks and virtual hugs to just anyone. This year, we believe our healthcare heroes deserve all the love and appreciation.
At Wellstar, people are at the heart of everything we do. Our mission is to enhance the health and well-being of every person we serve, and nothing would be possible without the continued commitment of our team members.
Whether they are fighting the virus on the frontlines or working behind the scenes to keep our facilities sparkling clean, each and every team member plays a vital role at Wellstar Health System.
From February 10-14th, we want to honor Wellstar healthcare heroes as “Vital Valentines”—those dedicated to delivering world-class care to Georgia. Our team members always put the health and safety of our patients and communities first, even through the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of backing down from the challenges over the past year, our team members have rolled up their sleeves, taken on new responsibilities and shown fearless leadership to continue the life-saving work we do every day.
Please join us in celebrating the selfless commitment of Wellstar’s “Vital Valentines” as we continue to move forward into a new era of hope and healing.
Have you had a standout experience with a Wellstar team member? Tell us how our team has gone above and beyond. Simply write a sweet social post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #WellstarHealthSystem and #VitalValentine.
For more feel-good stories about our “Vital Valentines,” follow Wellstar Health System on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Wellstar Primary Care Providers: Partners in Your Care
Are you getting the most out of your healthcare experience? If you don’t have an established Wellstar primary care provider (PCP), you could be missing out on some major benefits.
Some people visit a different doctor each time they need a check-up or just whenever they feel sick. Similarly, many patients use the walk-in convenient of urgent care as a substitute for primary care. However, in both of these cases, it can be difficult for you to build a lasting health partnership and leave your care feeling incomplete.
Having a designated Wellstar primary care physician – and specialty medicine providers within the same health system – give you an entire team of health experts that are invested in you and your well-being.
The main role of a primary care provider is to keep you healthy at every age and stage of life. To keep you feeling your best, these experts are trained to:
As you get older, your healthcare needs will change. That’s why many people keep the same Wellstar primary care provider for years, even decades.
Your physician can help you stay ahead of health issues and deliver tailored care for your unique needs, as they change over time. These experts are your first defense against many preventable diseases and catch major illnesses earlier, so you have the best possible outcome.
Ready to find the right Wellstar primary care provider for you? We make it easy to get expert, comprehensive primary care at many convenient locations across metro Atlanta and West Georgia. To find a location near you, simply click “Book Now” at the top of any page.
High-Tech Cancer Care at Wellstar
At Wellstar, we treat more than patients. We treat people—friends, family, neighbors—who are wholly unique. That’s why our cancer specialists never use a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to your care.
As soon as you are diagnosed with cancer, we provide expert and tailored care that can make all the difference in your treatment and recovery. Our multidisciplinary oncology teams rely on the latest research, innovative treatments and world-class technology to target tumors with precision.
No matter your diagnosis or stage of disease, our cancer experts can create the best and most effective treatment plan for you.
Our dedicated oncology team includes board-certified oncology physicians and surgeons, nurse navigators, registered dietitians and genetic specialists, who are ready to fight alongside you at the first signs of cancer.
Whether you live in the metro Atlanta or West Georgia area, Wellstar makes it easy to find expert care. We have specialized cancer treatment centers close to home, including the newly-renovated Enoch Callaway Cancer Center at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center and Specialty Teams and Treatment (STAT) Clinics at Wellstar Cobb Hospital, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Wellstar North Fulton Hospital.
Here, patients get a customized care plan for their unique cancer diagnosis quickly, instead of waiting weeks or months for treatment.
At the STAT Clinics, each patient has a face-to-face meeting with their oncology team on one day, at one appointment. This multidisciplinary approach helps you get the right treatment for your unique diagnosis as soon as possible.
Wellstar offers a wide range of advanced and minimally-invasive treatment options, such as:
As part of the Mayo Clinic Care network, your trusted Wellstar doctors can combine their understanding of your unique medical needs with Mayo Clinic expertise so that you get exactly the care you need, close to home.
Whether you have just been diagnosed with cancer or are looking for a second opinion, Wellstar’s expert oncology team can help you get back to life faster.
Comprehensive Cancer Care at Wellstar
Wellstar believes not one cancer diagnosis is ever the same.
That’s because each and every person is unique, from their body, genetic makeup, medical history and lifestyle. No matter your cancer diagnosis or stage of disease, our oncology experts create a care plan that is custom-fit for you.
From metro Atlanta to West Georgia, our comprehensive cancer network provides patients with world-class technology, leading expertise and multidisciplinary care through every stage of their cancer treatment.
Wellstar health experts aim to catch cancer early, so you can have the best outcome possible. An annual visit with your primary care provider (PCP) can help you stay ahead of many major diseases, including cancer.
During a wellness exam, our PCPs use preventative health screenings—such as mammograms, colonoscopies and prostate exams—to spot cancer or other potential diseases faster, often before symptoms even appear. Screenings for lung cancer are also available, often ordered for those who have a history of smoking or may have been exposed to carcinogens.
That means we can save more patients’ lives like Frank Ryan, who defeated cancer twice, and Phyliss Davis, who beat breast cancer after being diagnosed during a routine mammogram.
If your family has a history of cancer, a genetic risk assessment can help determine the possibility of you developing the disease and the likelihood of passing the genes to children.
Wellstar invests in state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat cancer quickly and effectively. Our patients have access to a wide range of minimally-invasive and cutting-edge cancer treatments, including intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) and CyberKnife robotic surgery.
At Wellstar, we understand no person with cancer is exactly alike. That’s why our multidisciplinary team of experts will develop the right treatment for you, considering your unique diagnosis as well as your medical history, health concerns, lifestyle and personal beliefs.
At select Wellstar locations, patients have access to our Specialty Teams and Treatment (STAT) Clinics. Here, people with cancer receive personalized, world-class care while being fast-tracked from diagnosis to treatment in record time.
As part of the Mayo Clinic Care network, your trusted Wellstar doctors can combine their understanding of your unique medical needs with Mayo Clinic expertise so that you get exactly the care you need, close to home.
Any time your doctor wants to confirm a treatment plan or request a second opinion, they can consult directly with Mayo Clinic's top specialists on your condition.
People with cancer can find support from the Wellstar oncology team, including nurse navigators, oncology registered dietitians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and financial counselors.
Cancer and certain treatments can often have physical, psychological or cognitive side effects that may impact your daily life. Cancer rehabilitation and integrated therapies—including acupuncture, yoga and meditation—can help you live your fullest, healthiest life by lessening the side effects of cancer and treatment.
Whether have recently been diagnosed with cancer or are entering remission, education and support are essential. Wellstar offers cancer-related support groups and educational opportunities, such as nutrition and fitness classes, to help you cope.
At Wellstar, you never have to brave cancer alone. Our dedicated oncology team will provide continued, compassionate care for every step of your diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Make Your Preventative Care a Priority
From a balancing a busy work schedule to running errands around town, it can be easy to keep putting off important wellness appointments. However, an annual visit with your Wellstar primary care provider is one of the best investments you can make in your health.
Just like building savings in a bank account, each preventative care appointment adds more value to your health. That’s because, instead of just getting treatment just when you feel sick or experience symptoms of a serious condition, preventative care helps you stay ahead of potential medical problems.
Taking the time to schedule an annual wellness exam can pay off in the long run.
At Wellstar, we preventative care is the key to living your fullest, healthiest life. During an annual exam, our primary care providers use preventative screenings to help catch major diseases early and prevent chronic conditions.
While different types of tests may be recommended based on your age, gender and medical history, common screenings include a:
Atypical results may indicate an increased risk of certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. Your primary care provider may order extra testing or refer you for follow-up care with a Wellstar specialist, such as a cardiologist, neurologist or oncologist.
Knowledge is power. Understanding the results of your wellness exams can help you take charge of your health and make informed decisions about your care.
The results of your health screenings may reveal certain personal risk factors. Some of your risk factors can’t be changed, such as your age, genetics or family medical history. Others are under your control and can be adjusted to help you live well, including eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and choosing not to smoke.
Understanding your test results and risk factors can help you become your own wellness advocate. Armed with knowledge about your health, you can often reduce the effects of a serious condition, improve your outcome or avoid certain health complications altogether.
Your wellness check-up is also a safe space to discuss your health goals and medical concerns. Whether you need help maintaining a healthy weight or managing a chronic condition, your Wellstar primary care provider will create a tailored care plan just for you, based on your unique health needs.
Don’t delay your annual exam. Schedule a visit today by clicking the ‘Book Appointment’ button at the top of any webpage.
Expert Stroke Care at Wellstar
No stroke is ever the same. That’s because people—their brains, their nervous systems, their genetics—are all different. At Wellstar Health System, we provide world-class stroke care for each and every patient when they need it most.
During a life-threatening stroke, parts of the brain may become damaged, causing long-term disability, permanent injury or even death. Our trained team understands how getting fast, expert stroke care can mean the difference between life, death or lasting damage.
From metro Atlanta to West Georgia, Wellstar has the largest Joint Commission stroke-certified network in Georgia, so you’ll receive high-quality care wherever you go. Count on our medical experts to treat your stroke as quickly and safely as possible.
If you have a complicated or complex case, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Wellstar North Fulton Hospital now offer the highest level of stroke treatment. Using a multidisciplinary approach, our cerebrovascular and neurocritical care team treats the most severe strokes effectively.
That means, no matter what Wellstar hospital you are in, you’ll always have access to expert care.
Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Wellstar North Fulton Hospital offer many state-of-the art treatments and technologies, including neurointerventional biplane suites. This imaging provides 3D views of blood vessels deep within the brain for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Four Wellstar hospitals are also primary stroke centers, including Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Wellstar Cobb Hospital, Wellstar North Fulton Hospital and Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital.
From diagnostic testing to life-saving emergency care to physical rehabilitation, Wellstar provides comprehensive stroke care so you can get back to life, faster.
Learning the warning signs of a stroke may help you save a life—even your own. Remember to BE FAST, and get help immediately if you notice symptoms below.
Creating Your PeopleCare Plan
At Wellstar, we deliver personalized care to every patient, every time. That’s because we know you are more than a number, diagnosis or medical chart. Our dedicated experts support you through every stage of your wellness journey, providing care that is as unique as you.
That’s what PeopleCare is all about.
Because we know preventative care plays a major role in staying healthy, our primary care providers (PCPs) will build a PeopleCare plan just for you.
Your PeopleCare plan is your unique blueprint for better health. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s. PCPs create tailored treatment plans for each patient, based on your health concerns, family medical history and results from routine wellness exams.
Using these building blocks, PCPs can form an action plan and often get ahead of major health problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. That’s exactly what happened for Nan Harman-Dempsey and Frank Ryan.
Wellness exams arm you with knowledge, so you can take control of your health.
No matter your age or medical history, it is recommended to get a medical check-up at least once a year. At your next doctor’s visit, make sure to “know your numbers” for:
For both men and women, basic wellness exams are an important step in staying healthy.
To schedule a primary care appointment, call (770) 956-STAR (7827) or click the “Book an Appointment” button at the top of the page.
As the matriarch of her family, Phyliss Davis has always taken care of everyone before herself. Between a busy schedule and devoting time to her granddaughter Wynter, Phyliss made a habit of putting her own health on the back-burner.
Hoping to check another job off her to-do list, she finally squeezed a routine wellness appointment onto her calendar. But when Phyliss’ medical chart showed no recent mammogram, her primary care physician grew concerned.
"When my doctor asked how long it had been since my last mammogram, I didn’t want to admit that I hadn’t had one in years," Phyliss said, remembering how the medical professional urged her to get a breast exam as soon as possible.
Because I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, I thought I didn’t have to worry.
Luckily, Phyliss came in at just the right time. Her mammogram caught a concerning lump that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. Following a biopsy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Throughout her cancer journey, the grandmother would learn the importance of taking care of her own health and body. And soon, she would truly understand the words her mother told her as a child: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
It seems "defeat" just isn't in John Cashen's vocabulary. A survivor in more ways than one, John has overcome not only a catastrophic natural disaster, but also fought cancer with unyielding resilience.
In 2005, as flood waters from Hurricane Katrina rose and threatened his New Orleans home, John took an axe to his attic's ceiling, climbed atop his roof and tied himself to his chimney so he wouldn't be swept away. Days later, no help had arrived, so John untied himself and swam to an overpass where he was rescued by a helicopter. He joined the rest of his family in Georgia.
Since then, John has become a proud citizen of LaGrange. A master of everything Mardi Gras, John runs a local krewe and is a natural at building parade floats from the foundation up. But when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019, he summoned his fighting spirit, squared his shoulders, and faced his cancer journey head on.
Wellstar Recognized as Cancer Treatment Leader
Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, announced that the Wellstar Cancer Network was recently recognized nationally as a cancer treatment leader. Honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and designated as a Care Continuum Center of Excellence by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, the Wellstar Cancer Network continues to pioneer innovative cancer treatments and technologies to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients.
“Wellstar Health System is dedicated to providing patients with the highest quality of compassionate and personalized care,” said Dr. Michael Andrews, Chief Cancer Officer of the Wellstar Cancer Network. “We are extremely proud of the Wellstar Cancer Network and our team of highly skilled physicians, nurses and oncology support services who excel at treating the spectrum of cancer illnesses with the most advanced, patient-centric technologies and treatments. We are focused on enhancing the health and well-being of everyone we serve, with a commitment to delivering world-class cancer care.”
Wellstar earned an Outstanding Achievement Award for the third consecutive cycle from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). The highest honor in the United States awarded to a cancer program, the Wellstar Cancer Network was recognized for achieving excellence in providing care to cancer patients. Award recipients must have received commendation ratings in all seven commendation standards and receive a compliance rating for each of the 27 remaining cancer program standards.
Don't Forget Your Flu Shot
At Wellstar, we believe prevention is the best way to protect yourself from a potential flu infection. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to get a flu shot every year.
In the wake of the pandemic, we know it may be confusing to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19. If you are unsure if you are experiencing flu or COVID-19 symptoms, please see the comparison section below.
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both viral respiratory illnesses and share many common signs and symptoms. Both illnesses are contagious and can be spread through person-to-person contact, although COVID-19 can spread to other people more easily and quickly than the flu.
Since the flu and COVID-19 have many similar symptoms and traits, it may be difficult to determine which respiratory illness you may be experiencing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are key differences between the two illnesses:
*Note: Not everyone with the flu will have a fever. Children under the age of 5 may also be at higher risk of contracting the flu.
Seasonal flu shots are widely available to the public. As the supply and availability for authorized COVID-19 vaccines increases, you can choose to be vaccinated to protect your health and other community members. Compared to the flu, people with COVID-19 may often:
Diagnostic testing may be the best way to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19 or may have had a past infection of the virus.
For more information about COVID-19 testing, click here.
Compared to COVID-19 and even the flu, people with common colds usually experience milder than the other infections. Typically, colds do not result in serious health problems or complications, such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.
People with colds are more likely to have stuffy or runny noses. In general, experiencing fever, chills and headaches are uncommon.
For more detailed information, call (770) 956-STAR (7827) or visit our COVID-19 resource page.
Belinda Momon has been making music her whole life, encouraging elementary students to build good character, serving as band director, playing percussion and traveling with her church choir. There’s little that can stop this lifelong teacher and Douglas resident.
When Belinda was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she could fight it with the same passion she always applied to music. And her victory over the disease became her most important composition.
It all began as a pact between two sisters. After losing their mother to cancer, Belinda and her sister vowed to get mammograms every year. In 2017, everything looked normal until Belinda found a lump.
It was a Friday evening, and Belinda wasted no time and saw her physician.
At Wellstar Douglas Hospital’s Imaging Center, the new mammogram confirmed she had cancer, underscoring the importance of paying attention to your body and discussing any changes with your doctor.
“My sister battled with breast cancer twice. She said ‘if I can get through this, you can get through this,’” Belinda remembers. “I felt encouraged.”
Belinda, who had just wrapped up her 30th year teaching, now had to draw up the same courage she had always instilled in her students.
“There’s so much life that I still need to live,” she said. “I’m not allowing breast cancer to stop me.”
As Belinda started her cancer journey, she met Diane Austin, a nurse navigator at Douglas Hospital who survived breast cancer herself. Diane helped her make connections and appointments with cancer specialists.
The connection with the nurse navigator was immediate. As a cancer survivor herself, Diane understood what it meant to face cancer and all the uncertainty surrounding it.
“When I came across the nurse navigator position at Wellstar Douglas Hospital, it sprung off the page,” she recalled. “I immediately thought ‘this is something I can identify with.’ I just felt like I was called to do this job.”
At Wellstar, this personal connection is at the core of every physician, nurse and team member, extending beyond the walls of our hospitals.
“Sometimes, we have a patient who has to have a biopsy and is going to it alone. We’ll go there with them,” she said. “I think about my patients when I go home. I make sure I call back and keep up with them to let them know I am still here for them if they need me.”
Belinda began chemotherapy treatment to shrink the tumor before surgery. She went to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital for a mastectomy—a full removal of the breast tissue and lymph nodes. Here, all her previous exams were readily available thanks to Wellstar’s electronic medical record, allowing for a seamless transition between facilities.
In the months following her surgery, Belinda underwent a daily schedule of radiation on the Wellstar Cobb Hospital campus in Austell. The treatment drained her energy, but not her determination to live life to the fullest.
Llen Ryan has been the rock of her family’s household for more than 50 years, from raising children alongside her husband Frank and watching her grandchildren grow up.
When she started feeling constant back pain six years ago, she knew she wouldn’t give up her independence and exercise routine without a fight. The thought of stopping her daily walks around Kennesaw Mountain bothered her as much as the physical pain itself.
“I couldn’t walk. I was on the couch for a long time, months, because that would help ease the pain somewhat,” Llen said, expressing her frustration with the debilitating back pain. “I couldn’t stand using a cane or a walker anymore.”
That’s when she met Dr. Franklin Lin, a board-certified neurosurgeon and spine surgeon who helped her take the first steps toward better health.
“When I first met Llen, her chronic back pain had begun interfering with her everyday life. She was starting to have difficulty doing the activities she enjoyed,” Dr. Lin recalled.
“After evaluating her condition, it became clear she was suffering from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces between the spine,” Dr. Lin said, explaining how the condition can be caused by wear and tear over time. “Patients with spinal stenosis can often feel tingling, numbness and a ‘pinching’ sensation in the spine, which can be very painful.”
Looking at Zac DiGiorgio today, you wouldn't know he almost lost his life—twice.
Like any typical guy in his early 20’s, Zac was always on the move. He liked to keep himself busy and lead an active lifestyle.
So naturally, when his parents needed their shutters replaced, Zac was the first to volunteer. With a drill in hand, he climbed up the ladder to replace the old hardware and change out the shutters.
Moments later, everything changed in the blink of an eye.
A terrifying crash sounded from outside the home. Zac’s father, Chris DiGiorgio, rushed out the front door to see a parent’s worst nightmare: his 23-year-old son face down in the driveway, having a seizure.
After shouting to his wife to call 911, Chris was at his son’s side. He cradled Zac on the concrete driveway, trying to steady his body from the convulsions.
“I really didn't know what was happening,” Chris recalled. “I knew he was having a seizure, but I didn't know if he had any other injuries or anything else going on.”
But one thing was clear: Zac had plummeted to the ground from the top of the ladder, smacking the right side of his head hard on the concrete.
The severity of the fall triggered a seizure, often characterized by body spasms or unconsciousness. However, these episodes can also have cognitive and emotional effects, such as fear or anxiety.
In Zac’s case, he became extremely agitated. After waking from the initial seizure, he argued with his dad and fought against his hold. Even when the first responders arrived, he refused to get on the stretcher and instead walked himself to the ambulance.
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the ambulance raced towards Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. On the way, Zac complained of pain in his shoulder from a broken collar bone. But after experiencing another seizure on the short eight-minute drive, it was clear much more was going on inside his body.
After being admitted, it would be weeks before Zac awoke again in the hospital—with no memory of the accident.
September hasn't always been Ashley Irwin’s favorite month. Years ago, that time of year when the leaves changed into bright, warm colors held some of the darkest moments of her life.
In 2011, a 28-year-old Ashley was battling a particularly bad bout of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory illness that can cause painful and often debilitating abdominal and bowel issues.
After the intense flare-up, Ashley was settling in at home again with the assistance of her mother. She was determined to regain her independence and get back on track.
But it wasn’t long before the sharp sensation of a migraine hit her full force. Pushing through the pain, she tried to check her email for any new messages, though it was nearly impossible to type in her username and password.
“As I sat in front of the computer, I couldn’t even remember my last name to log in to my email account—no matter how hard I tried,” Ashley recalled the terrifying moment.
Almost immediately, Ashley’s mother noticed her confusion, and stepped in to assess the situation and double-check her daughter’s cognitive abilities.
“My mom asked me, ‘Who am I? What’s my name?’ In my head, I knew she was my mother, but I just couldn’t connect the dots and express it,” Ashley said, describing her confusion and difficulty thinking. “At that moment, I couldn’t tell you her name or her relationship to me.”
Worried, the mother and daughter rushed to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital’s Emergency Department for immediate medical treatment. After being evaluated, it was clear that Ashley was dealing with much more than just a bad headache—she was having a stroke.
Make Well Happen
At Wellstar, we know not one person’s life has gone untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across Georgia—and throughout the world—many have had to learn how to navigate a state of “new normal” as well as deal with complicated and confusing emotions. But through every challenge and triumph, we’ve all been in this together.
However, hearing the same news reports and safety information over and over can become tiresome. It’s possible to forget what our community has been working towards… but now is not the time to tune out.
Wellness is a two-way street, and it’s up to all of us to make well happen.
That’s because just as much as saving lives and fighting illness happens every day at our Wellstar healthcare facilities, staying well starts with you. When you focus on the wellness of your world—yourself, family and friends—you have a profound impact on people everywhere.
When you join the movement to make well happen, you become a wellness warrior.
As you dedicate yourself to doing your part, Wellstar continues to keep the people and communities we serve safe every day. We have been working hard to make well happen, across all of our hospitals, health parks, urgent care centers and hundreds of medical offices.
As we fight on the frontlines to keep Georgia well, we also look to you. You are a change-maker. When you do your part, we all work together to make well happen.
Cancer Care Close to Home
For years, Alpharetta attorney Nan Harman-Dempsey dealt with high-pressure situations in the courtroom. But after receiving the results from her biopsy, there was a new challenge on the docket: breast cancer.
Nan’s fiery personality wouldn’t let her back down from taking on this new opponent.
“I was never afraid even when I heard ‘cancer,’” Nan said of her diagnosis. “I’ve always been the type of person to look ahead and stay positive. With the Wellstar team behind me, I knew I was in good hands.”
For cancer patients like Nan, every minute counts. When Nan visited the Wellstar Specialty Teams and Treatment (STAT) Clinic, she started a treatment plan right away.
“We don’t want our patients or their families to be scared and waiting for answers,” added Dr. Laura Pearson, Wellstar breast surgeon. “That’s why we offer patients appointment times as soon as possible at the STAT Clinic.”
Even after treating thousands of patients with breast cancer, the Wellstar cancer team knows no person, situation or care plan is ever the same.
“Breast cancer treatment is very individualized,” explained Dr. Pearson. “Not one person gets the same treatment. Every patient in our cancer program has a care plan tailored to fit exactly what, where and how their cancer needs to be treated.”
This same principle would hold true for Nan, as she was selected to be the first Wellstar North Fulton Hospital patient to receive a new treatment called intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).
Nan Harman-Dempsey has never been afraid of a challenge.
After all, that’s what led her to become an attorney and start practicing law in the heart of Alpharetta. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was Wellstar who came to her defense.
For years, Nan put her time and energy into representing clients in the courtroom, always brushing off her annual exam. Before she knew it, nearly a decade had passed since her last mammogram. It was only due to her primary care physician’s persistence that Nan decided to schedule an appointment.
“My doctor had been begging me for a long time to get a mammogram,” Nan reflected. “I finally caved in and went. Turns out, I hadn’t had a mammogram in over eight years.”
Even after her mammogram, Nan wasn’t worried.
“The staff said, ‘We’ll see you next year’ as I was heading out,” Nan recounted, noting she was in and out of the appointment in record time. “I left without a second thought. It was back to business as usual for me.”
But the next day, Nan received a phone call requesting she return for follow-up testing. At her appointment, Nan studied the black and white images captured from the mammogram on the screen, perplexed.
“On my X-ray, there were four tiny white spots lined up like little soldiers,” Nan said, describing the intensity of the situation. “I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at, but that’s when the physician explained, ‘This is your body telling us to look further.’”
Following a biopsy, Nan was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Johnny “Bow” Matthews was preparing for bed when he felt a tightness in his chest he just couldn’t shake.
He tried to sleep, but chest pains wouldn’t let him drift off. He attempted to wake his wife, Deidra, but she wouldn’t budge.
The mother of two had been up and about all day, from preparing breakfast early in the morning to putting the kids in bed after dinner.
“I told her, ‘Hey, something’s wrong,’ but she was sleeping too deeply and wasn’t comprehending.”
Bow couldn’t afford to wait. As the pain and discomfort worsened, he dressed and drove to the emergency department at Wellstar Cobb Hospital.
Most people can’t wait to leave the hospital. Deidra and Bow Matthews, however, weren’t quite ready on their discharge day.
Deidra had just delivered Chase, a beautiful girl. Holding that tiny, fragile baby in their arms, both new parents felt nervous about what to do next. But the nursing staff at Wellstar Cobb Hospital surrounded them with unfailing support and helped the Matthews family gain more confidence in holding, feeding and swaddling their new bundle of joy.
Heart of the Band
As the tuba player in his band, Frank sets the bass tone for every other instrument, for every song.
“I enjoy being in the New Horizons Band at Kennesaw State University. There, I’m part of a community who loves and supports one another,” Frank said. “I love playing the tuba because I can visualize the people who played before me. And it constantly reminds me that being part of a community makes life worthwhile.” So, when his heart lost its pace, skipping beats and banging against his chest, he knew there was something wrong with the most important instrument in his body.
“I was working out on the elliptical at Wellstar Health Place, and the heart rate monitor on the machine was jumping to 200 beats per minute. I knew something was wrong,” Frank said. “I was already a patient of Dr. Paul Simonoff’s, so I called his office and he took me in right away.”
“Frank’s heart was racing,” said Dr. Simonoff. “He was also experiencing heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath. That’s when I discovered his heart was out of rhythm.” Dr. Simonoff diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation (AFib), which occurs when the upper chambers of the heart—known as atria—beat irregularly and fail to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body.
The symptoms of AFib are sporadic. You might notice a skipped heartbeat, and then feel a thud or thump, followed by your heart racing for an extended period. You might feel fluttering or jumping, mimicking the effects of a heart attack.
“Dr. Simonoff had to do other diagnoses and perform more tests before I could receive electrical cardioversion shock treatment,” Frank said. Electrical cardioversion shock treatment is a procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain types of abnormal heartbeats, Dr. Simonoff explained.
“It often takes only one shock to restore the heart to a regular rhythm,” Dr. Simonoff said, noting that the patient is under general anesthesia during the procedure. “They’re asleep and don’t feel a thing. They’ll wake up from the procedure and ask, ‘So, when are we getting started?,’ and it’s all done. Their heart is already back in rhythm.”
“I haven’t had a problem ever since then, and I’ve been taking my medication to prevent it from happening,” Frank announced. “It’s fully under control.” Dr. Simonoff sees these symptoms frequently and knew that the AFib Clinic at Kennestone Hospital could help Frank. This highly-specialized team provides a thorough clinical evaluation of patients with AFib.
To this day, this is still the only comprehensive and dedicated atrial fibrillation clinic in Georgia. Frank now manages his AFib with medication, regular exercise and checkups. “Frank is doing great,” Dr. Simonoff smiled. “I see him on regularly and his heart has remained a steady rhythm. Our goal is to have patients like Frank be as healthy as possible so they can get back to their lives.”
Thankfully, Frank resumed his place in the New Horizons Band without skipping a beat.
“I don't think we are thankful enough to our doctors or to people who work in healthcare. We are here because they're there,” said Frank. “We’re here because they've done their job and they're dedicated.”
COVID-19: Back to School
At Wellstar, we are here to support your children’s health and safety this school season.
In the wake of COVID-19, returning to school has posed new challenges. For many students, in-person education means scoring A’s while also learning how to stay safe. Some schools have opted for virtual learning, with parents taking on the dual role of caretaker and teacher.
Whether your child is attending school in-person or online, it’s important to teach them the proper steps to protect their health. That’s why Wellstar has created a simple, back-to-school song to make safety easy and fun.
It’s almost too cool for school. Check out the song here and you can even join in on the fun by sharing the video of your child’s rendition on social media.
COVID-19: Keeping Young Adults Safe
At Wellstar, we know many people—especially teens and young adults in their 20s and 30s—may be experiencing ‘COVID fatigue’ after months of the pandemic. However, COVID-19 cases across Georgia are continuing to rise.
During this time, protecting your health means protecting your personal freedom in the future. If you would like to hang out with friends or go on vacation when it’s safe, then it’s important to follow preventative health measures now.
If we all work together now, we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and get back to normal activities, safely.
Use these helpful tips to keep yourself and others in the community safe:
For more resources and information about how to protect your health during the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 resource page.
Wellstar Kennestone's New Emergency Department is Now Open
At Wellstar, not one patient, symptom or treatment plan is the same—even in an emergency. Now, the new, state-of-the-art emergency department (ED) at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center delivers quality and compassionate care to every patient, every time.
Located just north of metro Atlanta, this 263,000 sq. ft. medical facility is one of the largest and busiest EDs in the nation and:
Frank and Llen Care
When you first glance at Frank and Ellenora "Llen" Ryan, the word "fighter" likely isn't the top quality that pops into mind.
Between the two of them, they have defeated cancer twice, overcome debilitating spine pain and triumphed over a cardiology episode. Now, they’re fighting Parkinson’s disease with the same energy, confidence and heart.
COVID-19: Taking Care of Your Mental Health
In the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel anxiety or stress. Handling strong emotions is a normal response, according to Wellstar health experts.
“Things are changing very rapidly,” says Dr. Chirag Patel, Wellstar Medical Director of Population Health. “This virus is very new, and Wellstar has been preparing and taking care of the communities we serve. We also encourage people to take care of themselves physically and mentally.”
According to the CDC, reactions during the outbreak can include:
Figuring out ways to cope with anxiety and stress can help you, your loved ones and your community. If stress begins to interfere with your daily life, reach out to your healthcare provider.
For more information, please see the CDC's website on managing stress in children, adults and medical caregivers.
COVID-19: Summer Safety
At Wellstar, we are committed to keeping you and your family safe every day. As we transition to the summer months, it’s important to continue health precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Despite more businesses and shared spaces—such as hiking trails, parks and pools—gradually reopening, the virus remains prevalent in Georgia. According to Wellstar health experts, the increased activity and contact with others could lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Although summer can be a relaxing time for us all, it’s not time to become lax with preventative health measures,” said Dr. Chirag Patel, Wellstar Medical Director of Population Health. “Unfortunately, many of our favorite summertime activities, such as visiting the beach or park, can bring large groups of people together and put you or your loved ones at a higher risk for infection.”
“While enjoying the sunshine and fresh air this summer, it’s important to use common sense when venturing into public spaces,” Dr. Patel explained. “People should continue taking extra safety precautions such as social distancing and frequent handwashing. If we’re not careful, the community could see a spike in COVID-19 cases.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrating summer may be a little different this year. However, it is still possible to protect your health and have fun this season.
Here is an easy way to remember how to stay safe:
Before you leave for an outing, don’t forget to take a personal summer safety “go” bag for each member of your family that includes:
For more resources and information about how to protect your health during the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 resource page.
Wellstar Kennestone Receives Georgia Oglethorpe Award for Organizational Excellence
Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, today announced Wellstar Kennestone Hospital was named the recipient of the prestigious Georgia Oglethorpe Award for 2020, Georgia’s highest level of recognition for organizational performance excellence. Presented by the Florida Sterling Council, the award recognizes organizations and businesses “that have successfully achieved performance excellence within their management and operations.” This award announcement falls on the 70th anniversary of the hospital—a significant milestone in community care.
Due to its high standard for excellence, the Georgia Oglethorpe Award represents one of the most significant levels of recognition an organization can receive. Recipients of the Georgia Oglethorpe Award are examples for excellence for other organizations.
This award is presented after rigorous evaluation to recognize organizations that have achieved management and operations performance excellence. Only 89 organizations have earned awards since 1992 from the Florida Sterling Council—the organization that orchestrates the Georgia Oglethorpe Award. The awards are “presented annually to high performing, role-model organizations, both private and public, that demonstrate superior management approaches and role model results,” according to the Florida Sterling Council.
Founded in 1950, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is a 633-bed hospital, anchoring the regional medical center located in Marietta, Georgia, and is part of the nationally recognized non-profit Wellstar Health System. The hospital serves hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and consistently demonstrates high performance levels across all metrics, including quality, safety, satisfaction, and operations.
Wellstar invests consistently in new innovations that help address vital healthcare needs, such as Georgia’s first CyberKnife®, TomoTherapy® and da Vinci® robotic surgical systems.
As one of only three Level II trauma centers in Metro Atlanta, and part of the state’s largest trauma network, Wellstar Kennestone operates the second busiest emergency department (ED) in Georgia and the eighth busiest ED in the U.S., caring for more than 138,000 patients per year. The new ED is slated to open late June 2020 and will be one of the top two largest and busiest EDs in the nation, serving up to 600 patients per day and 220,000 patients each year at full capacity, doubling the current trauma and emergency capacity. The 263,000-square-foot facility will include dedicated isolation and decontamination rooms that can be used for patients who present with infectious disease, behavioral health, or chemical contamination issues and multiple entrances for different levels of patient severity. Offering a dedicated pediatric ED and many industry-leading features and processes, the new ED dramatically enhances access for Georgians to vital healthcare needs and will be a model for best practices in emergency services, both for the region and nationally.
Today, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is honored to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The hospital was founded in 1950 to serve the needs of the rapidly growing Cobb County community, which had tripled in the ten years prior. The May 21, 1950 edition of the Marietta Daily Journal stated the facilities “are said to be among the best available in hospital circles in the Southeast”—a fact that stands true today. For the last 70 years, the hospital has been a pinnacle in the Marietta community and is a destination hospital for North Georgia and neighboring states.
“Every birthday that we celebrate not only signifies our maturity in age but also our advancement in serving our community,” said Mary Chatman, executive vice president of Wellstar Health System and president of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and Wellstar Windy Hill Hospital. “We, the more than 5,000 employees of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, are proud to be the healthcare choice for many patients, from the beginning of life, when we celebrate birth, to the end of life, when we demonstrate dignity.”
The hospital’s longest-tenured team member and unofficial historian, Joyce McMurrain, has worked at Kennestone for almost 55 years. Joyce began her career as a staff nurse in the maternity unit and has served in many roles. McMurrain is currently the nurse manager for professional practice and helps to guide rising senior nursing students. “One of my proudest accomplishments is helping Wellstar to re-shape and re-structure women's health services,” said McMurrain. “The hospital moved from a traditional maternity model to a modern family-centered approach that provides women greater access, support, decision-making in the delivery process, childbirth, and care.” She credits her longevity to her credo of believing that we are all connected and that service makes a significant difference in people's lives.
Chatman and McMurrain join Wellstar Kennestone Hospital team members in celebrating this significant milestone 70th anniversary, knowing that the hospital will continue to provide compassionate care for the communities it serves for years to come.
COVID-19: Caring for Children
Wellstar is committed to providing the best and safest care possible to children. Across our health parks, pediatric offices, pediatric emergency departments and dedicated pediatric center, we’ve put extra precautions in place to prevent the spread of infections such as COVID-19 so children can thrive.
When it comes to pediatric surgery, we are committed to providing safe care. Therefore, each child will receive a pre-op COVID-19 test, and we’ve developed this helpful resource for parents so they know what they and their child can expect.
We understand many children may be going through a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many may experience anxiety and stress—especially when they can’t visit a loved one in the hospital. Wellstar has created some talking points for parents to help them explain to children why they must not visit at this time.
Additionally, if parents are struggling to keep kids feeling connected during the pandemic, our pediatric experts have developed these great ideas for engaging kids at home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most COVID-19 cases in children are mild and mirror adult symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. However, some children—especially those with underlying medical conditions—may get severely ill from COVID-19 and may require hospitalization.
The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. While adults make up the majority of COVID-19 cases, children may be asymptomatic and may pass the virus to others. Children should not meet in groups and should have limited interaction with higher-risk individuals, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
If your children may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and keep your children at home and away from others as much as possible.
Just like adults, children may experience stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. While handling strong emotions is a normal response to the crisis, parents and caregivers can play a vital role in helping their children cope. With schools closed and more time at home, it’s important to keep your children healthy, feeling happy and engaged in school curriculum.
Wellstar Health System Chief Pediatric Officer Dr. Avril Beckford offered expert advice to parents during the outbreak.
“Throughout this challenging time, children rely on parents and caregivers to lead the way,” Dr. Beckford explained. “Be a good role model by practicing social distancing guidelines and preventative health practices, such as frequent handwashing. Explain to your children that the health recommendations are the best way to protect family, friends and vulnerable loved ones.”
In addition, the CDC shared several tips to keep children healthy physically and mentally:
For more information and parenting tips, please refer to the CDC’s article about helping children cope during COVID-19.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel stress or anxiety. Many adults are now playing the role of both parent and teacher. During this challenging time, parents should make time to unwind and take care of themselves.
“As a parent or caregiver, be sure to replenish your own physical and mental well-being.” Dr. Beckford said, stressing that parents should take time to recharge and relax. “Replenished parents are best equipped to be great parents.”
Small changes in your routine can make a big difference in your outlook. Set time aside to relax during your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Do activities that make you feel happy and at ease, such as going for a short walk, painting or deep breathing.
For more information and helpful coping tips, please visit our article about taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Finding ways to help you and your children cope with anxiety and stress can help everyone stay healthy and hopeful. If you notice stress beginning to interfere with your or your child’s daily life, please reach out to your healthcare provider.
COVID-19: Caring for Yourself & Others
Wellstar is committed to keeping our communities safe and healthy amid COVID-19 and beyond.
During a pandemic, it’s important to incorporate preventative measures into our daily lives. At this time, social distancing—the practice of reducing time spent in society and around others—is key.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The most commonly reported symptoms are:
Other symptoms can include:
“We are finding that 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild and can be handled at home,” says Dr. Danny Branstetter, Wellstar Infectious Disease Specialist. “It’s when symptoms worsen and become unmanageable that people will need clinical medical attention. You can also speak with your healthcare provider about potential outpatient treatment, especially if you are a high-risk individual.”
If symptoms get worse, call an emergency department, urgent care, primary care provider or your local health department ahead of time to receive guidance on coming in for testing and treatment.
The CDC advises that caregivers who have had close contact with a confirmed case or someone under investigation for COVID-19 should closely monitor their own health. If you develop symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away.
“It’s important to care for a loved one, but do it safely,” says Dr. Branstetter. “While symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the flu or common cold, we have to remember that this is a new virus and we are still learning about it. The highest levels of research are being conducted to combat this disease, so caregivers at home must exercise caution to protect themselves and others.”
Your healthcare provider and public health staff will evaluate whether you can be cared for at home. If it is determined that you can be isolated at home, you will be monitored by staff from your local or state health department. You should follow these steps until a healthcare provider or local or state health department says you can return to your normal activities.
For more information, visit the CDC.gov.
SeniorCare: How to Cope with COVID-19
Adults age 65 and older are at a higher risk of contracting severe illnesses, including coronavirus (COVID-19). That’s why it’s especially important for older adults to take preventative health measures during a pandemic. At this time, practicing social distancing—the act of reducing time spent in society and around others—can help seniors stay safe and healthy.
Under normal circumstances, older adults may experience loneliness and depression. But with the cancellation of many community events and disruption of everyday activities due to COVID-19, the senior population can feel even more isolated.
“Typically, when we reach retirement, we tend to form daily and weekly routines that become very important to us and ensure we are socializing with others and living a fulfilling life,” said Dr. Jeffrey L. Tharp, Wellstar Health System Chief of Primary Care and Medicine Service Line.
“Now that our elderly are practicing social distancing, they no longer have these outlets. This may lead to further downstream effects, such as exercise limitation, nutritional deficiencies and lack of compliance with medical appointments and treatments,” Dr. Tharp explained.
As stress and anxiety about the outbreak increases, seniors may also experience changes in sleep patterns and worsening signs of depression and dementia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several ways seniors can stay happy and healthy during this difficult time:
For more information, please visit our article about taking care of your mental health.
During this challenging time, friends and family can be an important support system for seniors. Even while social distancing to keep elderly loved ones safe, people can still find ways to connect with them.
Here are some easy ways to help older adults cope with the stress:
Finding ways to help elderly loved ones cope with anxiety and stress can help them stay healthy and hopeful. If you notice stress beginning to interfere with your loved one’s daily life, encourage them to reach out to their healthcare provider.
For more information, please visit the CDC’s website on keeping older adults safe both physically and mentally.
After working in construction for over 20 years, Brett Faucett knows all about the right building blocks. Piece by piece, a building comes together, but if one brick falls out of line, the whole system can crumble.
That’s why Brett knew something was wrong when the numbness started in his left arm. It came and went several times before he ended up behind the wheel of his car.
Sitting at an intersection, Brett was at a crossroads. He could turn right, attend his out-of-town business meeting, and ignore the sinking feeling inside. Or he could turn left and drive straight to the emergency department at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.
“It’s really hard when you plan on going to work and you know people are counting on you. It’s hard to make that left turn and listen to your body.”
Brett took a deep breath and turned the wheel toward the hospital, forever changing the course of his life.
Wellstar Expands Discussion To Identify A Long-Term, Sustainable Solution For Critical Healthcare In Atlanta Medical Center Communities
Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, today announced that the organization is expanding its discussion and engagement process for potential partners in working with the Atlanta Medical Center (AMC). The not-for-profit health system will seek interested partners to address a long-term, sustainable solution that meets the critical healthcare needs of the AMC communities.
Through a comprehensive review of the operating model at AMC, which is primarily reactive, acute care and emergency medicine, Wellstar determined that the care delivery model must be transformed to better meet community needs and reach long-tern sustainability. This transformation will be centered on three fundamental areas, including making additional investment in AMC physicians and team members, reimagining the development and implementation of a more proactive care model, and addressing the limitations of aging facilities. Wellstar plans to explore a variety of strategic options and will be inviting select organizations that meet its partnership criteria to submit proposals to further support Wellstar AMC.
“For the past four years, we’ve been on this journey with the Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center teams and physicians to understand the individual needs of the AMC communities, to extend our mission, and increase the standard of care, said Candice Saunders, FACHE, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “As an invested community partner, we believe these communities need a long-term, sustainable solution—one that works to improve overall health and well-being. Our priority is finding the right solution for the community and our current investments are not enough to fulfill these critical needs.”
Wellstar has made significant investments including hiring top talent, offering a broader set of services and updating aging facilities and infrastructure—over $126 million across both Wellstar AMC campuses. In just a few short years, the health system has vastly improved the quality of care provided at these facilities. Wellstar has also expanded primary care in Camp Creek, nine miles from Wellstar AMC’s south campus, and developed a family medicine and imaging center—Wellstar Primary Care which is scheduled to open on February 24, 2020. In fiscal year 2019, AMC provided more than $113 million in uncompensated care—second only to Grady Health System.
“At AMC, we are people taking care of people and are extremely proud of our progress in serving these communities. However, a long-term, sustainable solution will require a substantial, additional investment that we, as a not-for-profit, cannot fund alone while maintaining access to care for everyone we serve,” said Kem Mullins, executive vice president of Ambulatory and Business Development, Wellstar Health System. “As a result, we’re expanding our discussions to include others who believe there is a better, more sustainable way to meet the healthcare needs of our Atlanta communities.”
As the health system explores a variety of strategic options, it will be engaging with elected officials, community leaders, potential partners, and those who may be willing to invest in the right solution for serving the AMC communities. Wellstar acknowledged that how this process transpires in the months ahead remains unknown. It is committed to keeping everyone informed and will continue listening to everyone, including team members, physicians and the community, to inform the path forward.
Is AMC closing?
No, AMC is not closing. We believe the AMC communities need a long-term, sustainable solution—one that works to improve overall health and well-being. we want to be clear that our efforts to find a long-term solution will not affect AMC’s daily operations or our on-going commitment to AMC. We are here to support the AMC teams in the delivery of safe, high-quality, personalized care for everyone.
What will happen to my medical records? Can I still see my doctor?
Our efforts to find a long-term solution will not affect AMC’s daily operations.
Why is Wellstar seeking proposals and broader input?
We believe there is a better way to meet the short and long-term healthcare needs of our Atlanta communities and our priority is finding the right solution for the community.
How will the community be involved in this process?
We have decided to explore a variety of strategic options and will be inviting select organizations that meet our partnership criteria to submit proposals. We are also engaging with elected officials, community leaders, potential partners, and those who may be willing to invest in the right solution for serving the AMC communities.
Wellstar Primary Care Opens On Atlanta Beltline
Wellstar Health System announces the opening of its first integrated primary care office on the Atlanta BeltLine. Designed to provide easy accessibility to Atlantans who live, work, and play on and around the BeltLine, Wellstar Primary Care offers health care for all ages, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory services by appointment and on a walk-in basis. Having a highly accessible primary care facility in this vibrant area of Atlanta underscores Wellstar's commitment to understanding and investing in the present and future healthcare needs of patients, families and communities throughout the state.
"For the past four years, Wellstar has been focused on understanding and meeting the needs of this community. We have invested $4.3 million in Wellstar Primary Care on the Atlanta BeltLine, which will serve residents and visitors to that area, as well as surrounding neighborhoods, such as Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park," said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president of health parks development at Wellstar Health System. "The new Wellstar Primary Care practice will help reduce barriers to healthcare and is designed to provide convenient world-class, personalized care."
The 7,500 square foot facility features:
“We value Wellstar’s sponsorship and longstanding support of the Atlanta BeltLine, and we are thrilled that they are opening this location,” said Rob Brawner, Executive Director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership. “Having excellent primary care directly on the BeltLine - where many Atlantans work, live, and play - is reassuring and an asset to the entire community.”
Wellstar Primary Care is located on the ground floor of Edge on the BeltLine, a multi-use complex with apartments, restaurants and other retail, located on the Atlanta BeltLine between Edgewood and Dekalb avenues.
Dr. Randolph Taylor II will serve as the primary care physician at Wellstar Primary Care and Terrica Rumph, DNP, as nurse practitioner. The practice is now accepting appointments for primary care, imaging and lab.
The address for the new facility is 670 DeKalb Avenue SE, Suite 106, Atlanta, GA 30312. Patients can schedule appointments, and walk-ins will be accepted. The primary care practice will be open every day from 8 AM – 6 PM.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (470) 267-0570 for primary care and (678) 581-5900 for imaging.
Wellstar Reveals What Georgians Want from their Healthcare System... and it's Personal
The healthcare landscape and the needs of patients and communities, both throughout Georgia and across the country, are ever changing. Wellstar Health System—nationally ranked and locally recognized for its high-quality care, inclusive culture, and exceptional doctors and team members—actively listens to the people in the communities it serves to best understand and respond to what they want, need, and expect from their healthcare provider.
Actively and regularly listening ensures that Wellstar is evolving alongside its patients and communities, providing not only responsive care to emergent needs, but also ongoing, quality, and personalized care at every age and stage of life. Wellstar spent the last 18 months on a renewed listening journey, interviewing more than 8,000 Georgians, including team members, community partners, patients, and consumers, with the objective of informing strategy and taking action to best serve the healthcare needs of the people they serve.
“Enhancing the health and well-being of people requires pausing—and listening—to what consumers and communities tell us they want, need, and expect for their healthcare journey,” said Candice Saunders, FACHE, president and CEO of Wellstar Health System. “Much of what we hear and learn from our ongoing research is exactly what we strive to deliver to every patient, every time: compassionate, quality care. Over the last year and a half, we heard directly from people across the state that they want to feel valued as a unique person and in control of their healthcare decisions—in partnership with their providers. This insight not only validates our approach to patient care, it guided us to take action and renew our commitment to excellence with a personalized and integrated approach that is more than healthcare."
”Combining these research insights with patient feedback, as well as critical regional insights from its 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment with the Georgia Health Policy Center, Wellstar refined its mission, vision, and values and launched a new brand identity. Today, the not-for-profit announced the launch of its new system-wide brand campaign—“More Than Healthcare. PeopleCare.”
“Many people are asking ‘why now?’, and the answer is that our focus over the past few years has been fully integrating our healthcare service offerings across our entire system to ensure that our patients and communities have access to the care they need and deserve across the entire Wellstar footprint,” said Saunders. “Now, we want to make it clear to everyone we serve that being one of the largest and most integrated healthcare systems in Georgia equips us to provide a full spectrum of world-class health services from birth to end of life. This approach also applies to our team members. We are people taking care of people, and we want to ensure that everyone considers Wellstar a place where individuals can advance their careers and feel appreciated.”
Wellstar now has 11 hospitals; 250+ medical office locations; 9 cancer centers; 55 rehabilitation centers; 3 hospice facilities; 1 retirement village; 21 imaging centers; 15 urgent care locations; and 5 health parks. By doubling in size—growing its services, footprint and capabilities—Wellstar has grown its ability to meet the evolving healthcare needs of patients and communities across Georgia.
By taking the time to listen and understand the individual needs of the communities they serve throughout Georgia, Wellstar is recreating the standard for Georgia healthcare by:
“When you’re 39 years old, you never think you’ll be dealing with something like a heart attack,” said Brett Faucett, a husband and father of two, who drove himself to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital after his arm went numb in the shower. Upon arrival, he was rushed to the operating room for a 99-percent blocked artery. A few years later, it happened again, and he was treated at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center.
“When you’re in a situation like that, your world is flipped upside down. My family has a dad and a husband because of Wellstar—they saved my life,” said Faucett.
The new brand campaign “More Than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” is centered on real Wellstar patient stories that demonstrate the health system’s commitment to providing personal care that takes each person’s unique life story into account across the continuum of his or her personal healthcare journey – from inpatient to outpatient, pediatric to adult, birth to end of life. For more PeopleCare stories, visit wellstar.org/peoplecare.
Wellstar puts patients and communities in the driver’s seat by listening and providing an extensive choice of facilities and a wide breadth of services so that patients have access to all the options they need to make the best, most informed healthcare decisions. Each Wellstar hospital and healthcare facility offers an access point to a compassionate care team and a wide range of service lines that work in concert to provide personalized care for each patient’s needs.
“There’s no better time than the beginning of the year to reflect, refocus, and rebrand so that patients and communities know who we are and what we do,” said Dave Preston, senior vice president of Brand Experience and Communications at Wellstar. “Our new brand campaign, ‘More Than Healthcare. PeopleCare.’ features real-life patient stories that illustrate Wellstar’s commitment to providing high-quality, tailored care that meets their individual needs at every age and stage of life.”
Wellstar isn’t growing just for growth’s sake. The system has served one out of six Georgians, and patients in 148 out of 159 counties across the state. Wellstar is the only health system in Georgia with a network of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 trauma centers located in metro Atlanta to serve the most critical patients with a range of emergency care options. Today, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital operates the busiest emergency department in all of Georgia. The new emergency department will open this year, serving as a beacon for access to emergency care for Georgians. The 263,000 square foot building will connect directly to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and will hold 166 exam rooms. Upon its completion, it will be the second largest emergency department in the nation.
In addition to its new emergency department, the health system recently opened Wellstar Avalon Health Park, the fifth of its kind, giving patients in greater Atlanta easier access to a variety of high-quality, personalized healthcare services available at one convenient location. The Wellstar health park model gives patients access to primary care physicians and specialist appointments, outpatient procedures, urgent care, physical therapy and imaging in a single building.
The health priorities of the communities Wellstar serves are reflected in the 12 service lines that set the strategy of delivering effective, evidence-based care to their patients. All service lines are led by physician and nurse leaders who work with their team members to develop and deliver tailored care plans that tap the expertise of clinicians in an integrated and personalized manner, depending on specific patient needs.
Wellstar has been able to successfully evolve because of its unwavering commitment to listening to its patients. Truly personal, quality care means its patients have choices and access to the right care, at the right place, and at the right time.
Wellstar’s passion for people extends far beyond its system and into the communities it serves. The health system collaborates with more than 450 community partners to bring important initiatives into its service areas across Georgia.
Being a not-for-profit health system enables Wellstar to offer care when and where it matters most. In 2019, Wellstar provided more than $784 million in charity care, unreimbursed care, and community programs. In 2019, the Community Health Needs Assessment Wellstar conducted in partnership with the Georgia Health Policy Center identified six specific care gaps within the community: food insecurity, opioids and behavioral health, women’s health, cancer, suicide and access to primary care. To address and help fill these gaps, Wellstar convened a group of system-wide experts and community partners to provide services, equipment, prevention and wellness programs such as free mammograms, school health programs, hospital chapels, healing gardens, and more. For example, Wellstar partnered with local organizations to provide first books to every baby born in 2020 at Wellstar Kennestone and Wellstar Douglas Hospitals.
“We have been a partner with Wellstar Health System for more than 20 years,” said Dr. Dwight "Ike" Reighard, president/CEO MUST Ministries and senior pastor of Piedmont Church. “From supporting our 41 food pantries through food drives, including MUST in their annual Day of Service to address food inequities, and supporting the various health needs of our clients, to sponsoring programs like the annual Gobble Jog and the MUST annual Giving Gala, Wellstar has been a steadfast partner, helping us to be a beacon of hope and place of refuge for our neighbors in need with compassion and love. This wouldn’t be possible without community support from partners like Wellstar.
”By taking the time to actively listen, Wellstar’s knowledge has grown, its collaborations have grown, and its capacity to provide integrated, quality care where and when its patients need it most has grown. “More Than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” reflects Wellstar’s commitment to always listening and being there for patients in their hour of need and beyond; understanding the underlying factors that may affect their overall health; and creating processes, programs, and initiatives that promote the personalized care and well-being of every person they serve.
Wellstar is more than healthcare
Not one health journey is the same. That's because people—their health, their bodies, their stories—are all different.
At Wellstar, we know the most important factor in every health decision—you. That’s why we provide personalized care for everyone, whether that’s discussing with your primary care provider daily changes you can make to improve your wellness, navigating a difficult diagnosis with an effective treatment plan or emergency surgery to save your life.
We're here for everyone; for Frank and Llen Ryan, who have received comprehensive, multi-specialty care through all the ups and downs so they can live longer and stronger.
We're here alongside Johnny "Bow" Matthews, who improved his health through diet and exercise after having a heart attack, and for his wife Deidra who delivered two healthy babies. We lead the charge for a two-time heart attack survivor Brett Faucett and his whole family.
Lifesaving Wound Care Treatment in a Family Atmosphere
Two-time breast cancer survivor Heidi Bohlmann was accustomed to successfully facing health challenges. But when stomach pain brought the Roswell resident to Wellstar North Fulton Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED), she faced her ultimate challenge: a torn small intestine, which led to a life-threatening infection.
“I remember being in the ED, then waking up in a hospital room 11 days later with machines all around me,” said Bohlmann, 58. “My family from Wisconsin was there. No one was sure I would pull through.”
Bohlmann underwent surgery to repair her perforated bowel, which included creating a hole in her abdomen so the contents of her small intestine could empty into an external pouch. Called an ileostomy, the procedure allows the intestine to heal.
Wellstar Moving Forward with New Branding
Healthcare is always changing, always evolving. For over 25 years, we’ve made moving forward our mission, whether that’s investing in the most advanced treatments, bringing on only the best and brightest physicians, or giving back to the community we serve.
Now, Wellstar is offering the quality healthcare you’ve come to depend on with a fresh look and feel. Updating our visual identity is the next step in our journey of providing world-class healthcare to every person, every time.
Together, we are one health system over 24,000 members strong, from 11 hospitals, more than 250 medical offices, 9 cancer centers, 21 imaging centers, 5 health parks, and 15 urgent care centers. As the largest healthcare system in Georgia, Wellstar’s new branding represents all these moving parts seamlessly working together.
People are at the center of everything we do and every decision we make. We’re committed to pursuing better care for everyone, whether you’re just starting a family, fighting a chronic illness or staying healthy for retirement. To reflect this, the stylized, medical cross in our new logo embodies the human life cycle. Strong and steady, it moves with confidence and clear direction.
While our outward expression may be changing, we pride ourselves on delivering the same quality of care to you and your family. With our trademark purple, we continue our promise to be there for the biggest moments of your life. This color shows the respect and humility we have for serving the members of our community and staying attuned to the needs of others.
As always, we want to be the most valued and trusted partner in your health journey. In times of hardship, the community often turns to healthcare systems for shelter, care, and support. With the addition of a cool shade of blue to our color palette, it brings balance and new life to Wellstar. Deeply reassuring, this represents stability and calmness in moments of uncertainty.
At Wellstar, we know our patients come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. We provide personalized care for everyone, making an impact on the lives of real people every day.
We are Wellstar—and we are here every step of the way—for you.
MyChart Helps You Keep Track of Your Family’s Healthcare
The MyChart Patient Portal is easy to use, can be accessed from anywhere and puts all your health records—and your family’s health records—at your fingertips. Mary Hyde, a Radiation/Oncology Care Coordinator at Wellstar Paulding Hospital, is constantly using MyChart to manage all her family’s healthcare needs.
She reaches out to doctors, pays bills, makes appointments and tracks their medical history. Mary can even see lab reports, request prescription refills, and review doctor’s notes.
“I use MyChart two or three times a week at least, sometimes more! I love the text and email updates, and that it lets me know when there are test results and bills to be paid,” Mary said. “Well, I don't love getting the bills, but it is a nice feature.”
Every member of Mary’s immediate family uses MyChart. She has her records, as well as proxy access for her two boys, and her husband has his own account. One of their boys has special medical needs that they are monitoring closely, so MyChart is convenient.
“Being able to look in MyChart to monitor his weight and labs, and reference these without having to carry around a notebook to different specialists who may not be on Epic (or in the Wellstar system) has been very helpful,” Mary explained. “I can pull up MyChart via the app in the exam room to show the doctor his growth or illness, so we can treat him effectively. It's literally been a lifesaver at times.”
Thanks to MyChart, Mary was able to identify her son’s unusual weight pattern. Before his seventh birthday, she noticed he was becoming very skinny. She looked back at his MyChart and discovered he had not gained any weight since his 6-year check-up. Mary used this information to consult with their pediatrician and other specialists to determine the cause and work towards a solution.
“MyChart just makes sense. It is so user-friendly, easy to use and helpful when you need to reference a previous doctor visit or the last time you took an antibiotic,” Mary said. “Let's face it: we are all busy and need an app to help us remember stuff like this!”
If you haven’t already signed up for access to the MyChart Patient Portal, it’s free, easy and you can do it today at wellstar.org/mychart. Just fill in the information, click “Sign up, I Don’t Have a Code,” and you will receive an email with access information in the coming days.
Wellstar Paulding Hospital Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
The new Wellstar Paulding Hospital is turning five this September. It was our first opportunity to design a hospital from the ground up, and it became one of the first hospitals in the country to use a geothermal energy system, which uses the heat from below the Earth’s surface to heat and cool the facility.
Paulding Hospital features 112 private inpatient rooms, 40 emergency exam and pediatric emergency exam rooms, seven surgical suites, two GI-specific surgical suites, a bronchoscopy suite and decentralized nursing stations.
The hospital recently celebrated an extraordinary accomplishment when it received the coveted Florida Sterling Georgia Oglethorpe Award, which recognizes the hospital’s exceedingly high performance in patient safety, workforce engagement, and financial stewardship.
Over the years, Paulding kept expanding its list of services, bringing much-needed care close to home. One of these offerings is a state-of-the-art catheterization lab, where patients can get treatment for heart attacks and coronary artery disease. The lab opened in 2017, providing care to patients who previously had to travel to either Cobb or Douglas counties for this same life-saving treatment.
“Wellstar’s philosophy has been to deliver high-quality care to the community,” said Harvey Sacks, MD, who served as Paulding County’s sole cardiologist for several decades. “Bringing interventional cardiology here allows people to be treated near home, and makes it easier for their families to be with them at the hospital. Having family with the patient is an important part of healing.”
That same year Wellstar Paulding was also recognized for innovation and excellence in clinical care for patients with COPD and diabetes. The hospital won second place for its focus on diabetes care, which led to better controlling blood sugar for patients with diabetes while in the hospital. Wellstar Paulding Hospital also won third place for lowering readmission rates for patients with COPD.
New Emergency Equipment to Save Lives
Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital has begun replacing their emergency medical services (EMS) trucks with innovatively designed trucks to better serve residents in Spalding County. Easily recognizable, the first two of the bright red and white trucks with large purple lettering are now on the streets providing the latest in life-saving technologies for Spalding County, and backup emergency response care for Henry, Lamar, Butts and Pike counties.
The larger of the two EMS trucks is a tall, diesel-driven critical care vehicle equipped with advanced cardiac equipment. The truck also has the capacity to transport up to three patients at one time and is outfitted for neonatal transport. Additionally, it could be used to transport air flight crews to and from the scene and the hospital.
Both trucks feature innovative monitors and mobile hotspots to advance EMS’ use of telemedicine, linking the paramedic, physician and patient while en route to the hospital. Wellstar Spalding Regional EMS was the first to launch this webcam capacity in Georgia.
Each truck is also part of an Infectious Disease Transport Network, the only one between Atlanta and Macon. As members of this network, Wellstar Spalding Regional’s award-winning team of EMS paramedics and EMTs are specially trained and can turn either truck into an “isopod” isolation unit for emerging infectious diseases.
To reduce the number of paramedic back injuries caused by heavy lifting, the trucks incorporate new automated stretchers. These units provide support for emergency personnel by removing the need to lift a 75-pound stretcher along with the weight of the patient. This equipment is well-positioned to save EMS personnel from debilitating back injuries and lengthy rehabilitations, the number one cause of career ending disability in the EMS industry. Considered the safest in the industry, the stretchers also incorporate safety lockdowns from front to back, ensuring the patient is secure while in the truck.
Spalding Regional’s EMS paramedics and EMT’s provided input on the unique internal design to maximize efficiency and safety. For example, the trucks have been fitted with an automated lift to load and unload the large, extremely heavy, oxygen tanks that assist patients experiencing difficulty breathing. Jonathon Johnson, Director of Wellstar Spalding Regional’s EMS is proud of his team.
“Paramedics and EMT’s play a vital role in any system of care, often the first line of medical care for critical patients. This new equipment expands the safety for our patients and our personnel, and continues our long history of dedication and commitment to improvement of patient care in this community.”
Wellstar EMS is available 24/7 and responds to more than 16,500 calls annually with each truck in the fleet running between 200 and 250 hours each month. Each new truck costs the hospital between $150k and $180k. This first new critical care vehicle was purchased and outfitted through a gift from the Dundee Community Association to the Wellstar Foundation.
To keep up with the community’s high-demand, Spalding Regional has plans to replace seven additional trucks and add one more Critical Care truck to its fleet. Donations to the Foundation help. Every dollar designated to Spalding Regional funds much-needed projects that support the health and well-being of the local community. To make a tax-deductible donation, visit wellstar.org/give or call (770) 956-GIVE (4483).
Wellstar Paulding Improves Patient Safety
Wellstar Paulding Hospital’s ICU staff recently celebrated their success at improving patient safety by eliminating catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). They have been five years without a CAUTI in the ICU.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common types of healthcare-associated infections, accounting for more than 12 percent of infections reported by acute care hospitals, according to the CDC. Paulding’s ICU and infection control staff joined efforts to decrease the number of CAUTIs.
Some of the interventions were simple policy and process changes, while others required equipment changes. But it was the engagement of the front-line nursing staff that proved crucial to the efforts, which included:
Wellstar Paulding Hospital also celebrated another accomplishment recently. It won the Florida Sterling Georgia Oglethorpe Award, which recognizes the hospital’s exceedingly high performance in patient safety, workforce engagement, and financial stewardship.
Robotic Surgeries Get Patients Back to Their Lives Sooner
No one wants surgery. But when it’s necessary, it makes sense to choose the least invasive, most highly advanced type, if possible. And for a wide variety of surgeries, it is possible. At Wellstar North Fulton Hospital, a team of highly skilled robotic surgeons is using the most advanced technology available to help patients get back to their lives sooner than ever.
“Our team of robotic physicians has collectively performed more than 6,000 surgeries,” said Scott Miller, MD, North Fulton Hospital’s medical director of robotic surgery. “And our specially trained anesthesia team has also provided care to thousands of patients. At North Fulton, we offer the highest level of robotic surgery expertise.”
Robotic surgery specialties at North Fulton Hospital include colorectal, general, gynecologic (oncologic and benign), thoracic, trauma and urologic. And the surgeries are performed by clinical leaders. Dr. Miller, a urologist, was the first surgeon in Georgia to robotically remove a prostate. Named to Atlanta Magazine’s list of Top Doctors for 10 consecutive years, he has also been recognized for the past decade as a “National Top Doctor” by established research firm Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The list aims to identify the top one percent of specialists and sub-specialists in the US.
Dr. Miller explains that with robot-assisted surgery, the surgical system is operated by a physician sitting a few feet away from the patient. Using a high-powered camera, the surgeon guides the arms of the robot that holds surgical tools, which are inserted into the patient through small incisions. With robotic surgery, the surgeon’s movements are more precise, according to Dr. Miller.
“Robotics allow greater range of motion, and thanks to the magnified, three-dimensional image of the surgical field, we can see the patient’s anatomy in better detail,” he said. “It’s the difference between looking through a window and actually walking into a room.“
With the smaller incisions we make during robotic surgery, there’s less blood loss, less post-operative pain, less scarring, quicker recovery and a lower risk of complications,” adds Dr. Miller, who emphasizes another benefit unique to Wellstar North Fulton Hospital: personal, compassionate care.
“The surgeon you first meet with will be the physician who performs your surgery, and sees you postoperatively. We each personally care for our patients, from start to finish.”
Gregory Coffman, MD General, Trauma and Colorectal
Shelley Dunson-Allen, MD Obstetrics & Gynecology
Caroline Gibbons, MD Gynecology
Scott Miller, MD Urology
Ryan Mullins, MD Urology
Theolyn Price, MD Thoracic
Evelyn Reynolds, MD Gynecologic Oncology
Wellstar Is Now Official Health System Partner of Kennesaw State Athletics
Wellstar Health System has entered into a multi-year sponsorship agreement with The Kennesaw State University Department of Athletics. Wellstar’s investment will provide significant support to KSU’s Department of Athletics and its student-athletes.
Wellstar and Kennesaw State University have a long and active history of collaboration. On Jan. 7, Wellstar also announced that the Wellstar Medical Group will operate the university’s Student Health Services. With a new focus on the health of KSU students and our community, Wellstar is proud to become the “Official Health System Partner of Kennesaw State Athletics.” Through this relationship, we will further Wellstar’s vision—to deliver world-class healthcare, and our mission to improve community health.
In addition to becoming the “Official Heath System Partner of Kennesaw State Athletics,” the sponsorship includes sponsorship signage at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, KSU Convocation Center, Bailey Park and Stillwell Stadium, advertising in game programs, during television and radio broadcasts and on KSUOwls.com, the Department of Athletics’ official website.