WellStar Health System

  • Location: Marietta, GA
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: October 2010

WellStar Health System (WHS) is the largest not-for-profit health system in Georgia with more than 12,000 employees and serves nearly 1.2 million people in the northwest metropolitan Atlanta area. It is one of 42 health systems in the United States accredited as a healthcare system by The Joint Commission.

The system is not unfamiliar with being recognized by Studer Group in the past. WellStar Douglas Outpatient Surgery Department (March 2009) and WellStar Windy Hill Hospital (June 2008) have both been acknowledged as past Fire Starter of the Month award recipients.

The System's major facilities include five acute care hospitals, containing an aggregate of 1,321 beds, five urgent care centers, a wellness center, an adult congregate living facility, a skilled-care nursing facility, a residential inpatient hospice and 10 satellite diagnostic imaging centers. In addition, WHS employs approximately 400 primary care providers, specialists and advanced practitioners, who form the WellStar Medical Group. The WellStar Medical Group operates 86 practice offices and is one of the largest non-academic medical groups in Georgia.

Since its formation in 1993, the vision, mission and strategic direction of the System has remained clear. The vision of the System is to deliver world-class healthcare. The mission of the System is to create and deliver high-quality hospital, physician and other related healthcare services that improve the health and well-being of the individuals and communities it serves.

Strategic areas of excellence include cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, oncology, pulmonary, surgery and procedures, and women's services. WellStar Kennestone and WellStar Cobb hospitals have Level III neonatal intensive-care units, along with catheterization labs, pediatric emergency services, wound care and wellness programs.

Our Commitment to Excellence:

People Pillar:

WellStar is committed to being a great place to work. In the four years that WellStar has been measuring employee engagement, overall performance has improved 55 percent. The System's participation rate is at 87 percent and the ratio of "engaged" employees to actively "disengaged" is 7.38 to 1. Both are well above the national average for healthcare organizations. In addition, in 2010, our physician engagement and satisfaction rate increased 18%tile points, year over year.

Our efforts have been recognized nationally. Working Mother magazine recently recognized WellStar as a top 10 company in the nation for its family-friendly benefits. It is the third consecutive year the System has been named one of Working Mother's 100 Best Companies. In addition, WellStar has been recognized by AARP as one of the best employers for workers over 50; has received the Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility; was selected as one of NAFE's Top Companies for Executive Women; was named to the Companies That Care Honor Roll; and has been recognized by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as one of America's Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces.

Customer Service Pillar:

WellStar continues to strive to provide the highest levels of service to patients at each of our facilities. We are realizing continuous gains in patient perception of care. Inpatient services have experienced an upward trend for the last three quarters of FY2010 and that continues in the first quarter of FY2011. In FY2010, outpatient service's rankings move from the 85 to 90%tile. Ambulatory Surgery moved from 83 to 87%tile and the Emergency Department continues to improve each quarter.

Safety and Quality Pillar:

Safety and quality are WellStar hallmarks and ingrained in our culture. In FY2010, WellStar exceeded its System quality goals by reducing the C.diff rates to 12.5 cases per 10,000 patient cases and recently reduced it further to 4.23 cases per 10,000 patient days. The System also far exceeded its goals on CORE measures.

The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) presented two Quality and Patient Safety Awards to WellStar for increasing patient vaccination rates and reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). WellStar Kennestone, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding hospitals were recognized by the Georgia Hospital Association for achieving 93 percent of Appropriate Care Measures and reaching its Presidential Level of the Quality Honor Roll. WellStar Kennestone Hospital also was recently granted accreditation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission.

Financial Pillar:

The FY2011 operating plan represents our continued commitment to our financial strength. While the overall economic condition continues to be uncertain and the ultimate impact of healthcare reform is yet to be determined, the System has again set its goal to obtain an operating margin of 6 percent, which was achieved and exceeded in FY2010. This margin will enable WellStar to reach long-term targets outlined in the strategic plan.

This level of financial performance has been achieved substantially through our nationally–recognized and award-winning Opportunities 2010 program. Since its inception in 2008, the program resulted in more than $90 million in annual, sustainable financial improvements, which have been implemented throughout WellStar.

Successful Growth Pillar:

Our strong financial position is allowing us to move forward with an aggressive growth strategy. Our five year capital plan includes a new patient tower at WellStar Kennestone Hospital; multi-service health parks in East Cobb and Acworth; a second medical office building and replacement hospital in Paulding County and a significant investment in information technology to include electronic medical records and continued integration of electronic charting and results reporting.

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