WellStar celebrates 20 years
by Rachel Miller
May 14, 2013 12:33 AM | 1850 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Friends and supporters of the nonprofit WellStar Health System will gather today for a luncheon at the Marietta Country Club to celebrate the health care network’s 20th anniversary.

Robert Jansen, chief executive of WellStar Medical Group, started at Kennestone Hospital in 1985 before the facility was owned by WellStar. That is when, Jansen said, he began to fight the image that it was a country hospital.

Jansen said he helped found the WellStar Medical Group in 1994 to combine multiple hospitals and doctor’s offices to create an organization that was better than the individual parts.

“It took coming together to demonstrate that greatness,” said Jansen, who added that WellStar is unique and on par with any medical facility in the Atlanta area.

Jansen said being part of the business side means balancing finances with a commitment to providing care. He added that WellStar’s goal to be the best is challenging because of constantly adding new buildings and physicians to the network.

Jansen said WellStar’s focus is providing care, not making money, which has not waivered over the last 20 years.

Avril Beckford, chief pediatrics officer for WellStar Health System, was one of the first private practitioners to join the group. She said the decision was due to the vision of working together and the security of a larger organization.

“I have never regretted it,” Beckford said.

Beckford said she is excited to attend the luncheon because it further promotes camaraderie within the network of people that share a common mission.

“This is what brought us together in the first place,” she said.

Beckford, who founded the Pediatric and Adolescent Center of Cobb in 1994, said WellStar offers a unique system that is dedicated to taking care of children close to home.

“We love what we do with such a passion,” said Beckford, who said she is still humbled by her young patients’ bravery and overwhelmed by the trust parents place with her.

Technology is driving change

The printed invitation for Tuesday’s event highlights “the first 20 years” of WellStar, implying there is more to come.

The schedule includes a presentation by President Reynold Jennings called “Looking to the Future.”

Beckford said WellStar has a high level of expertise and now it is important to share the knowledge of the organization’s success.

Taking the design nationally is “our way of improving health care generally,” Beckford said. The high level of care soon will be incorporated into a high-tech venture.

Jansen said a program called WellStar Connect will start being integrated in September, with plans of moving completely to the new system within a year. WellStar Connect will allow patient records to be accessed across the entire network of care providers, as well as the billing department.

“We are in an interesting area because technology is becoming a necessary tool,” Jansen said. “It will truly be a transformational process for care.”

Jansen attributes the overall success of the WellStar Health System to the employees, “from the executive suite to housekeeping services.”

The 20th anniversary event will include releasing a book entitled “Life Well-Lived” that presents the history of WellStar in Cobb County, as well as patient stories.

Jansen expressed the same dedication to the local area that the book represents. “This is where my heart is. This is my community,” said Jansen.
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