Get our e-newsletter

WellStar Pediatric Center open on Barrett Parkway

Credit: WellStar

On July 7, WellStar opened a new Pediatric Center on Barrett Parkway. The child-centered facility has state-of-the art diagnostic tools, prompt appointments and test results, age-specific waiting areas, pediatric subspecialists, physical therapy for children, a full-time child life specialist to help when your child feels anxious and more.

Convenient services include an onsite pharmacy, office visits from 7 am to 4 pm, and after-hour care from 5-9pm. For more information, call (770) 594-PEDS (7337).


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

WellStar Health System Names New President. Candice Saunders Takes Over as CEO in 2016


WellStar Health System, the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Georgia, announced that Candice Saunders has been promoted to the role of WellStar president & chief operating officer. CEO Reynold Jennings’ contract will end on December 31, 2015, and at that time, Saunders will assume the role of WellStar president & CEO.

As part of the succession planning process, this announcement allows Jennings and Saunders to refine cohesive strategies, goals and objectives that will further WellStar’s vision of providing world-class healthcare. Saunders currently serves as the System’s chief operating officer.

As COO, Saunders has developed a Hospital Presidents Council with WellStar’s five hospitals that has increased efficiency, enhanced patient satisfaction and improved communication within the System. She also played a key role in developing the open-heart surgery program at WellStar.

Under her leadership, along with senior and physician leaders, WellStar has grown in national prominence and recently was recognized as a 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies Places to Work For® (#39, highest among Georgia-based companies), AARP Best Employers For Workers Over 50, NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women 2014 and Working Mother Magazine’s 100 Best Companies. In addition, Saunders was named to Business to Business Magazine’s Women of Excellence list, which each year recognizes only 15 women for their performance, dynamic leadership and service to the community.
“WellStar is critical and essential to the communities it serves,” said Candice Saunders, president and chief operating officer of WellStar Health System. “More than 1.4 million people rely on our services to live a healthy life. With my new responsibilities, I will provide leadership continuity to ensure that our System continues to play a major role in providing world-class healthcare to the people of metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia for years to come.”

The WellStar Board of Trustee’s Succession Planning Committee went through an extensive internal vetting process for this position. Saunders brings more than 30 years of healthcare experience to this role. She joined WellStar in May 2007 as president of WellStar Kennestone Hospital and was promoted to executive vice president & chief operating officer for WellStar Health System in March 2013. While president of Kennestone Regional Medical Center, the hospital experienced exceptional growth and strong financial performance. Saunders oversaw the hospital’s Blue Tower expansion, the Kennestone Outpatient Pavilion construction and the Level II Trauma designation.

“Candice Saunders is an ideal executive to lead a System like WellStar and its more than 13,000 team members,” said Janie Maddox, chair of WellStar Board of Trustees. “Her ability to build strong relationships with our team members, senior leadership, medical staff and community will serve her well in this new position.”

“WellStar is woven into the fabric of the community we serve,” said Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar. “The mark of a great organization is being able to promote from within, and we are fortunate to have someone of Candice’s multi-state stature already in our System. She will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience that will ensure a successful transition and future growth opportunities.”

Prior to joining WellStar, Saunders was vice president of Clinical Strategy and Service Lines for Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va. She also served as chief operating officer of Inova Fairfax Hospital, an 833 bed medical complex. While at Inova, she developed and led the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. At Emory University School of Medicine, Saunders held overall administrative responsibility for the Department of Medicine Clinical Programs. She also managed the Emory Heart Center and Cardiology programs. Saunders began her healthcare career as a critical care nurse in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She has also held key leadership roles in nursing and physician practice administration in both academic and community settings. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and master’s degrees in business administration and health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition, she is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, which is the country’s premier certification for healthcare management.


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Lose weight this year with WellStar


Did you know that WellStar offers Nutrition Counseling?

The WellStar Nutrition Network offers a weight management program designed for adults aiming to lose or maintain weight through lifestyle changes. Led by a registered dietitian, this program includes an initial consultation, review of key metrics, five interactive classes and two support groups.

Call (770)793-7454 for more information and to learn about the 2014 class schedule.


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

WellStar’s East Cobb Health Park Update


A rendering of the interior of the WellStar East Cobb Health Park currently under construction.

With outpatient healthcare expected to grow 30 percent over the next five years, WellStar is developing health parks to deliver outpatient care in community- based facilities. WellStar Acworth Health Park opened in July 2012 and continues to exceed volume projections.

WellStar East Cobb Health Park, a three-story, 162,000 square foot development, is located at 3747 Roswell Road NE and is scheduled to open in September of 2014. The East Cobb Health Park will offer comprehensive medical services and will include urgent care, medical imaging, lab services, a pharmacy, cardiac diagnostics, a sleep center, physical therapy and cardiac and pulmonary rehab. These services will be integrated with a multi-specialty mix of physicians to include a strong foundation of primary care physicians – family physicians, internal medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN services and specialists will include cardiologists, pulmonologists, ENT, gastroenterologists, surgeons, allergy/asthma, endocrinology, urology and orthopedics.

“A health park is all about bringing outpatient and physician services directly to the communities we serve,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president health parks development. “Residents no longer will have to endure long drive times, frustrating traffic congestion and multiple trips to access their health services at multiple locations. By combining and coordinating services under one roof, we will improve patient and family convenience and access to their outpatient care needs. The health park is truly a onestop- shop opportunity.”

In addition to providing clinical services the WellStar East Cobb Health Park plans to target community prevention and wellness by providing community education and screening opportunities.  We believe that this innovative service model ultimately will improve healthcare access and convenience for the communities we serve, including our neighbors in East Cobb and the surrounding area.

Construction Updates
The median on Roswell Road has been completed, and the installation of a traffic signal at the facility’s entrance will take place within a few months. Beginning in January 2014, WellStar Medical Group will open an OB/GYN practice in the Merchants Station building. This will complete the range of primary care specialties now available in East Cobb. These physicians will move into the health park when the facility opens in September.

The health park’s services will be linked together with all other WellStar facilities via an electronic medical record. This will improve patient convenience and allow for better care coordination for patients. The health park will enhance the already strong presence in the county including WellStar facilities in East Cobb and many WellStar affiliated physicians and providers who already practice in Cobb County.

WellStar continues on a strategic course of providing comprehensive, high quality, convenient and easily accessible community-based outpatient healthcare to the community. Facilities like the
Acworth and East Cobb Health Parks provide examples of the system’s commitment to service innovation and WellStar has plans for future health park developments in Vinings and Cherokee County.

“WellStar is committed to the health of Cobb County residents and is pleased to offer this convenient, comprehensive and high-quality care to our community,” said Chris Kane, WellStar senior vice president for strategic business development.

The purchase of this property ideally positions WellStar to address the needs of the residents in this rapidly growing area. We have a noteworthy history in Cobb County but our health park investments are evidence of our optimism about the future.”

Recognized as the fifth most integrated healthcare delivery system in the country, WellStar Health System is the one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in Georgia and serves a population of nearly 1.4 million residents in five counties. The vision of WellStar is to deliver world-class healthcare. A national leader in the transformation of healthcare delivery, WellStar launched two  initiatives in late 2012 – the Center for Health Transformation and the Georgia Health Collaborative – that will have far reaching effects on healthcare both locally and nationally. WellStar includes WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center (anchored by WellStar Kennestone Hospital) and WellStar Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Windy Hill hospitals; the WellStar Medical Group; Urgent Care Centers; Acworth Health Park; Health Place; Homecare; Hospice; Atherton Place; Paulding Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; and the WellStar Foundation.

For more information, call 770-956-STAR or visit

(Reprinted from the January 2014 issue of EAST COBBER)


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

Have you gotten your flu shot? Protect yourself and your family against seasonal influenza.


More than 200,000 people are hospitalized annually for flu-related complications. The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is by getting a flu shot each year.
WellStar offers on-site flu shot clinics at schools, churches, businesses and other locations, in addition to our Urgent Care Centers.

What is influenza?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious illness of the nose, throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses. It spreads easily through sneeze and cough droplets, causing mild to severe illness, and on rare occasions, death. Symptoms of seasonal flu include sudden high fever, chills, dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

What is the flu vaccine?

Seasonal flu vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing inactive virus administered with a needle, usually in the arm. Because the vaccine contains inactivated (killed viruses), a flu shot cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are approved for people ages six months and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Flu vaccine reduces the average person’s chances of catching the flu by up to 80% during flu season. Because the vaccine prevents infection with only a few of the viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms, it isn’t a guarantee against getting sick. But even if someone who’s gotten vaccinated gets the flu, symptoms usually will be fewer and milder.

When to get vaccinated?

The flu season generally begins in October and lasts through May, with most flu activity in January or later, though the season can vary from year to year. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it is available, usually beginning in October, will protect you if the season comes early. You can get the flu vaccine as long as the flu is affecting people in your area.
To schedule a flu shot, please call 770-956-STAR (7827). To get information about onsite flu clinics or to schedule a clinic for your group, please call 770-793-7323.



LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

WellStar and Walgreens announce Clinical Collaboration Agreement

Male Doctor Abstract Hand Gesture help

WellStar Health System and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) recently announced a clinical collaboration agreement that will provide coordinated and expanded health care services, while improving access to high-quality, convenient and affordable care for patients in the northwest Atlanta market.

WellStar Urgent Care Centers and physician practices will work with Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens to handle serious conditions outside of the clinics’ scope of practice, and to help manage the treatment of chronic diseases.  While Walgreens and Healthcare Clinic strongly encourage all patients to have a designated primary care physician and medical home for ongoing needs, the collaboration will provide WellStar patients access to quality care seven days a week. The collaboration will include direct communication between WellStar physicians and Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners to facilitate care coordination and sharing of patient information, and enhanced awareness of Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens and WellStar services.

“This collaboration extends quality care directly into our communities to provide greater access for patients,” said Reynold Jennings, WellStar president & CEO.  “We believe our communities will benefit from this type of collaborative model as we join forces with Walgreens to deliver more coordinated care.”

With the Affordable Care Act expected to bring millions of new patients into the healthcare system, the relationship aims to help address some of the needs and challenges facing both patients and healthcare providers.

“With the healthcare system today facing a myriad of challenges, Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens can play an important role in enhancing patient access to quality, convenient and affordable care,” said Alan E. London, chief medical officer, Consumer Solutions Group, Walgreens.  “Working with a highly integrated health system such as WellStar offers an ideal opportunity to further coordinate patient care in northwest Atlanta.  We look forward to working together to help patients in these communities get, stay and live well.”
Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens-area locations partnering with WellStar include:

  • 1762 Mars Hill Road, NW, Acworth
  • 4120 Austell Road, Austell
  • 9465 Highway 5, Douglasville
  • 2779 N. Cobb Parkway, Kennesaw
  • 2464 Roswell Road, Marietta
  • 2988 Shallowford Road, Marietta
  • 5230 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs
  • 2670 Cobb Parkway, SE, Smyrna

LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!

WellStar acquires cardio surgical practice


Dr. William Cooper

WellStar Medical Group welcomed three heart and lung surgeons, as well as four full-time physician assistants, into their network after acquiring a cardiovascular surgery practice from Emory University this week.

Unlike other recent additions, WellStar Medical Group did not buy the practice. Instead, the surgeons were brought into the system after the termination of an agreement between WellStar and Emory University.

Emory had been staffing the group that was performing surgeries at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. The cardiovascular surgery office will remain at its current location at 61 Whitcher St. in Marietta.

One of the cardiothoracic surgeons joining the health network is Dr. William Cooper, who has been affiliated with WellStar Kennestone Hospital since the inception of the cardiac surgery program in 2004.

Cooper, 45, who estimates he has performed 4,000 to 5,000 surgeries, said it is humbling that his practice has done so well.

Cooper said he is not focused on the personal gain, but on the tremendous responsibility that comes with caring for people.

“It is about taking the lives of individuals into our hands, and with God’s help, getting people back to enjoying life,” Cooper said.

Cooper said his parents, who were teachers, were his biggest motivators as a child. When his mom, Louise, died from pancreatic cancer when Cooper was 14, his focus turned to medicine.

“I went into this thinking I was going to cure cancer,” Cooper said, adding that he was very idealistic.

While in medical school, Cooper said he was exposed to various specialties, but was most intrigued by watching physicians working on the heart.

“You can watch somebody’s beating heart,” and then see that same patient walking and talking the next day, Cooper said. “The resilience of the heart is absolutely fascinating.”

Community service

As an assistant professor of surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, Cooper directed the establishment of the cardiac surgery rotation at WellStar Kennestone Hospital for Emory cardiothoracic surgery residents.

Cooper said his goal of working with WellStar for almost 10 years has been to create a great teaching environment for students.

Even if the vast majority of students do not go into cardiovascular surgery, Cooper said it is a way to honor the men who mentored him.

Cooper’s commitment to serving the community does not stop at education.

As a U.S. Army reservist, he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps in one tour with Operation Iraqi Freedom and two tours in Afghanistan with Operation Enduring Freedom.

Being in the Army for almost 30 years has taught him leadership, tenacity and endurance in a vulnerable situation.

Although he did not volunteer to go to a warzone, but was mobilized, Cooper said he would not trade the valuable experience.

Cooper said being a trauma surgeon in the Middle East has given him a unique perspective on the sacrifice “of 18- and 19-years-olds defending those that are much less fortunate than us.”

Team work

Cooper said the benefit of his practice being acquired by WellStar is that the integration will allow both the health system and the surgeons to move forward effectively in the same direction.

“We are looking forward to maintaining our standing in the top 15 percent of the country’s heart programs,” he said.

The focus will include evaluating and delivering surgical options to patients who are not candidates for more intrusive procedures.

These new technologies include percutaneous heart valves, which can be replaced without traditional surgery that requires cracking open a person’s sternum.

There are also heart failure therapies such as ventricular assist devices, which are implanted into patients that are not eligible for a transplant. With the help of this advancement, patients can get out of the hospital and even back to work, Cooper said.

Dr. Richard Myung, who joined the cardiovascular surgery practice when it expanded, is another surgeon WellStar acquired. Myung, completed residencies at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta.

“I am extremely excited to be joining WellStar and honored to be a part of a team delivering world-class healthcare to our region,” Myung said.

WellStar Health System is one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in Georgia and serves a population of nearly 1.4 million residents in five counties.

WellStar Medical Group has 53 surgeons of all specialties, in addition to 35 obstetrics physicians who perform gynecological surgeries.

Another cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Theresa Luu, will join the team in November. Cooper said Luu was also trained at Emory University and is anxious to get back to the Marietta area.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Rachel Gray October 05, 2013. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – WellStar acquires cardio surgical practice)

North Fulton Hospital Announces Cardiac Service Line Affiliation with WellStar Health System


North Fulton Hospital announces its recent affiliation with WellStar Health System to develop its cardiology service line.  The development of an affiliation is based on a desired collaboration between the two neighboring health systems and an increasing population in need of advanced cardiac treatment within the North Fulton area.

“It has been a goal of mine, our governing board, and members of our physician and clinical teams to provide a higher level of cardiac services to our community,” said Debbie Keel, Chief Executive Officer for North Fulton Hospital.  “By collaborating with WellStar, we are able to provide our community and first responders with a cardiology program capable of treating our population without having to leave North Fulton.”

As part of the affiliation, WellStar Health System will assist in the management of an employed physician practice, education and training for clinical staff within the hospital, and provide leadership on service line goals such as accreditation for chest pain within the ER, interventional cardiac catheterizations, and outpatient diagnostics.

“WellStar is looking forward to expanding its cardiac network and working closely with North Fulton Hospital. The affiliation will greatly enhance the cardiac services in the communities we serve,” said Candice Saunders, Executive Vic e President and Chief Operating Officer.

The first coordinated initiative will be the opening of an outpatient cardiac diagnostic center located on the hospital’s campus.   This will be followed by the implementation of advanced cardiac catheterization capabilities known as Percutaneous Coronary Interventions or PCI at North Fulton Hospital beginning in November.  To assist with the implementation of these services, Tenet Healthcare, the parent company of North Fulton Hospital, has invested more than $3 million for new equipment and building expansions including a Phillips Fd-20 Cardiac Catheterization lab, expanded outpatient cardiology imaging services at Roswell Imaging Center, and a new cardiology physician group.

North Fulton Cardiovascular Medicine was formed this past spring, a two physician cardiology practice based out of North Fulton Hospital.  The practice will be owned by North Fulton Hospital, with management of the services provided through WellStar Cardiovascular Medicine.  Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist, Rajesh Sachdeva, MD, serves as cardiology medical director for North Fulton Hospital and works collaboratively with the WellStar Cardiovascular Medicine on cardiology initiatives.   A second general cardiologist, Dr. Ayushi Ahuja, was recently added to assist with the development of a women’s cardiology program.

Build-out of the new cardiac cath lab and outpatient imaging center is underway with the expectation that the services will be available to patients and referring physicians in early November.  In 2014, the hospital will begin to see accreditation based on its new service lines including accreditation as a chest pain unit.

For more information on the cardiology program at North Fulton Hospital or for a referral to a cardiologist, log on to

Wellstar to offer workplace CPR certification class


Heartsaver: First Aid & CPR will be presented by WellStar Good Life Club on Friday, September 13.

This one-day CPR certification is tailored to those who need a workplace certification. Course held from 9am-3pm, cost is $60. Course will be at WellStar Hospital, 330 Kennestone Hospital Boulevard, Marietta 30060.

For more information or to reserve your spot, call 770-956-7827.

Don’t miss the EAST COBBER Parade & Festival on Saturday, September 21! For Parade and Festival details, click HERE!

P&F Banner large

WellStar receives Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility

Copy of Wellstar

WellStar has been honored with the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility for its use of flexibility and other aspects of workplace effectiveness as a workplace strategy to increase business and employee success.

This prestigious award, part of the national When Work Works project administered by Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), recognizes employers of all sizes and types in Georgia and across the country.

“WellStar believes in the importance of workplace flexibility as a strategy to increase workplace effectiveness, yield positive business results and help employees succeed at work and at home,”  said David Anderson, WellStar’s executive vice president, human resources, organizational learning and chief compliance officer.

Workplace flexibility — such as flextime, part-time work and compressed workweeks — has been demonstrated to help businesses remain competitive while also benefiting employees. Flexibility in combination with other aspects of an effective workplace—such as learning opportunities and supervisor support for job success—can have a powerful impact on employee engagement and motivation.

“Our research consistently finds that employees in effective and flexible workplaces have greater engagement on the job and greater desire to stay with their organization. In addition, they report lower stress levels and better overall health,” said Ellen Galinsky, FWI president.

The Sloan Awards are unique for their rigorous, two-step selection process, which involves an evaluation of employers’ flexibility programs and practices, and a confidential employee survey on the key ingredients of an effective and flexible workplace. All applicants are measured against national norms from the National Study of Employers.

“As a recipient of the 2013 Sloan Award, WellStar ranks among the top 20% of employers nationally in terms of its programs, policies and culture for creating an effective and flexible workplace,” Galinsky said. “In addition, what makes this honor so special is that their employees have corroborated this, affirming that it is indeed an effective and flexible workplace.”

When Work Works is a national project to educate the business community on the value of workplace flexibility by sharing research and promising practices, and conducting the annual Sloan Awards. It is an ongoing initiative of FWI and SHRM.

For more information about the When Work Works initiative and the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, visit


LIKE THIS BLOG? Then you’ll love our newsletter! Click HERE to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and be a neighbor in the know!