WFU, Hospital Rename Medical Center in Realignment

Wake Forest University and the North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., have renamed the Medical Center “Wake Forest University-Baptist Medical Center” as part of an extensive realignment plan approved today by the university’s Board of Trustees. The hospital’s Board of Trustees had already approved the plan.

The two institutions that comprise the Medical Center will use their individual names for certain institution-specific purposes: the North Carolina Baptist Hospital and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine on the Bowman Gray Campus. Formerly, only the medical school carried the Bowman Gray name.

Medical Center officials said that the name changes reflect the growing need for widespread single-name recognition of the Medical Center and of the medical school as part of the university. Richard H. Dean, M.D., the university’s interim vice president for health affairs, said that the faculty support the change and “feel an important need to be identified with the greater university to facilitate the Medical Center’s recognition as one of the nation’s leading university-based academic health centers.” Dean will serve as Medical Center director.

Officials emphasized that the name changes are part of a major realignment plan designed to preserve and strengthen the Medical Center’s “core mission” of medical education, research, and patient care. The plan significantly increases support for education and research while also promoting the success and enhancing the competitiveness of the clinical program. Under the plan, most of the Medical Center’s clinical subsidiaries are consolidated within the structure of the hospital.

Major features of the plan include the creation of an expanded Medical Center Board of Directors that will oversee several aspects of the realignment, including a new initiative called Academic Excellence Programs, designed to help continue the development of the Medical Center as one of the top academic medical centers in the country. The Academic Excellence Programs will be funded through an endowment established by the hospital.

Other features include the transfer of the medical school’s interest in several subsidiary operations to the hospital, a new affiliation agreement between the hospital, the medical school, and the faculty practice organization, and the alignment of economic incentives between them to enhance productivity, efficiency, and accountability.

Wake Forest president Thomas K. Hearn, Jr., said, “With this realignment, we are fortifying both the medical school and the hospital for the changing health care environment. Our aspirations for the medical school — to rise even higher in the upper echelons of academic medical centers — can only help the citizens of this community and our region.”

Len B. Preslar, Jr., president and chief executive officer of North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., will serve also as associate director of the Medical Center. “The challenge of academic medical centers across the country is to create a governance structure, leadership structure, and financial model which optimizes our core mission and improves the overall health status of the populations that we serve.

“At the Medical Center, our respective institutions have always acknowledged our close interdependence,” Preslar said. “In this realignment, we believe we have positioned our combined institutions more effectively for even greater success.”

The Medical Center Board of Directors will represent equally the leadership of both the Baptist Hospital board and the Health Affairs Committee of the university board. The board will have authorities specifically delegated to it by the boards of Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University, as are believed appropriate to this role. Those responsibilities will include oversight of the affiliation agreement, the strategic plan for the Medical Center, other specified Medical Center activities, and the new Academic Excellence Programs.

The Medical Center director and associate director will report to this board, and each will direct specific functions of the Medical Center.

Dean said that the new alignments and programs “represent a significant evolution in the relationship between Wake Forest and Baptist Hospital. The impact of these changes is a welcome realignment of incentives to all parts of the Medical Center and gives the school the opportunity to continue its maturation as one of the nation’s leaders among academic medical centers.”

The Academic Excellence Programs to be created under the realignment would provide funding to encourage more Medical Center programs to develop into top programs nationwide.

“The Academic Excellence Programs are especially dear to my heart,” Dean said, “for they underscore the joint nature of the school and hospital’s shared destiny. This investment in the development of the academic potential of the school by Baptist Hospital is a major statement of its support for the academic mission and brings us all closer in the recognition and pursuit of our core mission.”

Baptist Hospital was ranked as one of the nation’ “Best Hospitals” in nine of 17 specialties included in a recent survey by U.S. News and World Report. The Wake Forest University School of Medicine is now ranked 35th in the nation in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, a traditional comparative measure. Medical Center officials said this week that, although the rankings place the Medical Center in the upper tier of health care providers in the country, they see great potential for even higher rankings in more program areas.

The composition of the Baptist Hospital Board of Trustees would also change under the realignment. Currently all 24 trustees are elected by the Baptist State Convention. That would be changed so that half of the members would be elected by the convention and half would be selected by the board itself.

Preslar said the change, which was endorsed this week by the convention’s General Board, would give the board more flexibility “to recognize and act swiftly on opportunities to improve our position as a significant part of a substantial system that covers the region that we serve, and to accommodate changes in governance composition as its relationship with Wake Forest evolves.”

Categories: School of Medicine, University Announcement