ARHS Announces Strategic Partnership with Wake Forest Baptist for Emergency Services

Published Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 10:49 am

Beginning January 1, 2016 Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will enter into a strategic partnership with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine for physician services in its emergency department (ED) at Watauga Medical Center in Boone. In February, Wake Forest Baptist will also provide these same services at Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville.

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Emergency entrance at Watauga Medical Center.

ARHS President and CEO, Richard Sparks commented on the new partnership by saying, “Wake Forest Baptist has a track record of success in providing more than 150 specialized emergency physicians for their own facilities, and other healthcare systems across North Carolina including Cone Health and Catawba Valley Medical Center. These providers see more than half a million patients each year. In addition, they are nationally recognized for their expertise in patient care, research and education.”

When asked what led ARHS to the new relationship with Wake Forest Baptist, Sparks responded, “The dynamics of healthcare delivery, particularly in a rural setting, are constantly changing. One of our biggest challenges today is recruiting and retaining emergency care physicians to join our team to serve the needs of the community.”

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Emergency entrance at Cannon Memorial Hospital.

Sparks added, “If we employ a team of ED physicians – and then two or three of themdecide to pursue employment elsewhere – we’re forced to use temporary physicians and/or ask our remaining ED physicians to work additional hours, until we can fill the void. This scenario is not ideal for our community or for our physicians. This relationship with Wake Forest Baptist will allow our community to benefit from their extensive network of highly trained emergency physicians.”

Leveraging Resources Through Strategic Partnerships

ARHS has developed many strategic partnerships with other health care systems over the years to improve patient care for the region. ARHS has a long history of partnership with Wake Forest Baptist including:

* The Area Health Education Centers program, which serves to enhance access to high quality, culturally competent health care through academic-community partnerships in rural and underserved areas.

* A financial management consulting agreement, whereby ARHS provides revenue cycle and ICD-10 consulting to Alleghany Memorial Hospital under contract with Wake Forest Baptist.

* A Telestroke services partnership in which Wake Forest Baptist provides 24/7 access to acute stroke experts via two-way, real time video – in order to prevent death and reduce disability.

For many healthcare systems across the country, clinical affiliations of this type have emerged as an attractive alternative to mergers and acquisitions. Sparks added, “I want to be clear that we are not merging with Wake Forest Baptist. We both desire to remain operating as independent healthcare systems, but recognize there are ways that we can complement each other as we seek to deliver quality healthcare for the region.”

This new partnership with Wake Forest Baptist will be seamless for patients. Patients that enter the EDs at Watauga Medical Center after January 1 (or February 1, at Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital) should expect the same high-quality emergency care they have experienced previously from ARHS.

Richard Sparks summarized his feelings about this new relationship with Wake Forest Baptist by saying, “Whenever we see an opportunity that will help our community, it’s our responsibility to pursue it. This relationship will most certainly have a positive impact for patients visiting our hospital emergency departments.”

About Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (apprhs.org), the healthcare leader in the High Country, is comprised of Watauga Medical Center in Boone, Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville and  Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care in Blowing Rock.  Also part of ARHS, is Appalachian Regional Medical Associates and Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation. The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge, a new post acute care center in Blowing Rock, is scheduled to open in summer 2016.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System stays committed to promoting health in the High Country, enhancing quality of life and simply “making life better.” This charge makes Appalachian Regional Healthcare System the premier healthcare system in the region.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System please visit www.apprhs.org or contact Gillian Baker, Vice President of Corporate Communications at 828-268-8958 or [email protected].

About Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (www.wakehealth.edu) is a nationally recognized academic medical center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with an integrated enterprise including educational and research facilities, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers and other primary and specialty care facilities serving 24 counties in northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Its divisions are Wake Forest Baptist Health, a regional clinical system that includes Brenner Children’s Hospital and has close to 175 locations, 900 physicians and 1,000 acute care beds; Wake Forest School of Medicine, an established leader in medical education and research; and Wake Forest Innovations, which accelerates the commercialization of research discoveries and specialized research capabilities of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and operates Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, an urban district for research, business and education. Wake Forest Baptist clinical, research and educational programs are annually ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

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