WellStar Gives Back to the Community

By Tara Gary

Your healthcare provider provides healthcare, right? That was my assumption. WellStar not only provides exceptional healthcare for you and your loved ones, they do what they do best, they listen to the needs of the communities they serve. Aside from the standard food and donation drives, this not-for-profit health system is constantly looking for ways to exceed expectations by taking care of those who not only enter their facilities, but by expanding themselves beyond their walls and into their communities. In the fiscal year of 2018, WellStar invested $685 million in charity care, unreimbursed care, and community programs.

Realizing total healthcare includes educating and offering services to help prevent the need for future complications before they occur, WellStar offers free lung cancer screenings, mammograms, and diagnostic services at no cost to many uninsured and underinsured patients. They have implemented a three-pronged approach to opioid community education and outreach to proactively address the opioid epidemic that plagues many communities. WellStar recognizes total health begins with education. Beginning this January, they will partner with the Rotary Club of Marietta, Smyrna, and Atlanta-Brasil to provide literacy packets to every baby born at WellStar Kennestone Hospital through the “Legacy of Love and Learning” literacy program. They have even collaborated with a 17-year-old girl scout to renovate the Mary Ann Manley House, which provides lodging to family members of out-of-town patients for $10 per night.

Dr. Avril Beckford, M.D., Chief Pediatric Officer with WellStar Health System, and Candice Saunders, president and CEO of WellStar Health System.

Did you know Georgia is facing some of the worst doctor and nurse shortages in the country? Proactively, WellStar is addressing Georgia’s doctor and nursing shortage by partnering with Kennesaw State University through the WellStar Leadership Academy, WellStar Physician Leadership, and Nursing Career Pathway Programs, which develop a pipeline of future doctors and nurses. Foreseeing how this shortage could impact the community, WellStar is taking the initiative to counteract the shortage by providing scholarships to WellStar employees, spouses, and dependents in the healthcare industry to promote careers in providing healthcare. They are even expanding their Kennestone Emergency Department to meet the community’s growing population. Not only are they expanding, they truly care enough to consult and collaborate with the community to better understand how the newly renovated space can best serve their needs.

Last month I wrote about the breast cancer patient, Nan, who couldn’t speak highly enough about her experience and the care she received from WellStar. You may recall she was the first patient at WellStar to receive treatment from the newly purchased mobile intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) machine. Her procedure was a great success. WellStar has invested $3.2 billion in technology, such as robotics and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure their health parks and facilities can provide the best care for their patients at every stage of life. Investing in the growth of the WellStar organization, its communities, and its services, confirms WellStar doesn’t rest on its laurels. They continue to strive to make what is already an exemplary healthcare organization even better, and it shows.

Engaging with the community ensures a healthy relationship inside and out of the walls of their facilities. It doesn’t stop there. Even when patients find themselves facing the end of life and decide to make the selfless decision to donate their organs, WellStar not only provides emotional support, but conducts honor walks to pay respect to those individuals. By partnering with LifeLink, WellStar hopes to promote and increase awareness of the importance of becoming an organ donor.

WellStar has proven it is not only a healthcare and wellness organization, it is also a part of the families it serves and the communities surrounding it. Finding the right physicians and healthcare providers can be a daunting task, but not if you know right where to go, should you need such services. It’s a relief to have this gem of a healthcare system, especially in this day and age where customer service, loyalty, honesty, and true quality of nurturing care are rare.