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AU Health System merges with Wellstar, changes name to Wellstar MCG Health

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 05, 2023
Business Affairs
AU Health System merges with Wellstar. (Photo courtesy of Augusta University Health System)
Augusta University Health System has officially merged with Wellstar Health System in a partnership that provides it with more financial security and will be the foundation for a plan to increase the number of physicians practicing in Georgia.

Through their 40-year plan, both organizations will create a model for bringing together community health systems and academic medical centers, and increase the number of students at AU’s Medical College of Georgia (MCG) studying primary care, family medicine, pediatrics, and other specialties to fill statewide physician shortages. With the merger now complete, AUHS will now be called Wellstar MCG Health.

“By continuing to build on the rich legacy of MCG and creating new opportunities for more physicians to be trained in a modern clinical environment, we are addressing physician shortages in our local communities and contributing to solving this challenge nationwide,” said Wellstar and Wellstar MCG Health in a joint statement.

The two announced the deal in December 2022, saying it would create a broader affiliation between Wellstar and MCG, the only public medical school in the state. It also brings the 478-bed Augusta University Medical Center, the 154-bed Children's Hospital of Georgia, the Georgia Cancer Center, and Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospitals under Wellstar’s control.

Wellstar and Wellstar MCG Health will build a 100-bed hospital in Grovetown in Augusta’s Columbia County and set up a new regional teaching hospital for MCG at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, making it one of the largest public medical schools in the U.S.

They will also fund upgrades in other Wellstar MCG Health facilities; develop treatments, care offerings, and scalable models to optimize patient health and well-being; expand digital health for better access to individualized care; and strengthen collaborations with rural hospitals.

Back in June, state legislators called on Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to review the deal in light of federal complaints made against Wellstar for closing its Atlanta Medical Center, leaving Grady Memorial Hospital as the sole level 1 trauma center in the metro area, and its East Point emergency room facility. Critics said this illegally discriminated against Black people and violated the healthcare system’s tax-exempt status as a nonprofit, potentially disqualifying it from taking over AUHS, according to The Georgia Virtue.

Both Carr and the Federal Trade Commission signed off on the deal. Wellstar will assume $234 million in debt and pay the university system at least $111 million to use the Medical College of Georgia name, reported Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Financial details were not disclosed.

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