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Atrium Plans To Spend $1 Billion On Facilities

An artist's rendering of a new Atrium Health facility.
Atrium Health
An artist's rendering of a new Atrium Health facility.

Atrium Health says it plans to spend about $1 billion to expand its health care facilities in the Charlotte region and beyond. But it’s not quite clear exactly what will be built, where the money will come from for these new projects, and what Atrium defines as beyond.

Formerly the Carolinas HealthCare System, Atrium says it plans to keep growing. Its chief executive Gene Woods told board members Tuesday that it plans to spend more than $1 billion renovating and building new facilities. The intention, Woods said, is to get Atrium ready for the next 50 years.  

“This is really an opportunity for us to really reposition ourselves," Woods said. "We’ve had a very successful run for decades and now how do we position ourselves for the new future that is changing every single day.”

Woods said he expects the population of the Charlotte area to keep growing and wants to keep expanding Atrium facilities to keep pace. Woods also said final plans for Atrium's expansion will be presented to its board for approval in December. Until then, only a few specifics were offered. The Pineville location will likely be expanded, as will Carolinas Medical Center – its main campus.

“We’re looking at a number of options," he said. "[There will] be obviously more in the future discussed, the specialty buildings, how we reorient the campus to accommodate our ambitions to serve more in the community, more in the southeast and more throughout the country.”

In the past year, a failed merger attempt with UNC Healthcare, a name change, and a plan to purchase the Macon, Georgia-based health system Navicent Health have signified a huge transition for the health giant. These changes are also requiring a significant amount of funds.

Barak Richman, a healthcare policy and law expert at Duke University, questions what this kind of spending on buildings will mean for the cost of care.

“When you invest in buildings, you are investing in a certain kind of care," Richman said. "If you provide health care in expensive buildings, then the health care itself tends to become expensive. Not just more expensive to deliver and the actual care that you are delivering is more specialty care.”

Exactly how much of this investment will go into the Charlotte area is unclear.

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