Carolinas HealthCare System changes name to Atrium Health, announces merger with Navicent Health

Carolinas HealthCare System, the largest health system in North Carolina, has a new name,  Atrium Health, a change it says highlights the system's growth—expansion that includes a new deal with Georgia health system Navicent Health.

Carolinas evaluated more than one hundred new brand names before settling on Atrium Health, the system said in an FAQ on the change. The word "atrium" has several meanings—a chamber of the heart, a "place filled with light" and spot where people meet—that the system embodies in various ways, it said. 

"Our vision is to be the first and best choice for care. It’s important to have a name that doesn’t limit us to a specific geographic area," the system said. "Atrium Health allows us to do that and exemplifies our long-standing commitment to what everyone deserves—compassionate, world-class care." 

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Atrium expects it to take about two years to fully transition to its new branding, which will require changes from new email addresses to updated signage on buildings. Patients shouldn't notice a difference, though, other than an eventual name switch on billing documents, the system said. 

The health system also revealed Thursday that it signed a letter of intent to merge with Georgia-based Navicent Health. Navicent will become part of Atrium, and the two systems said that the alignment will lead to greater access and lower patient costs in Central and South Georgia. 

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“We’re focused on creating a personalized care experience for each and every patient and community we serve,” Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods said in the announcement. "The privilege to care for existing and new communities throughout central and south Georgia is another way to breathe life into our mission to care for all."

Navicent operates three hospitals and other sites of care in the region, including the 637-bed Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon.

It's unclear whether the deal with Navicent will impact Atrium's planned merger with UNC Health Care, a deal that would form one of the country's largest nonprofit health systems. That merger wasn't mentioned in the Atrium-Navicent announcement.

Atrium and UNC say that the proposed merger will increase access for patients in rural areas and allow them to negotiate better with payers. The state's largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, opposes the deal. CEO Patrick Conway, M.D., sent a letter to the chief executives of both health systems, saying that it would lead to increased patient costs.