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Georgia Highlands College Celebrates Nurse Graduates
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Georgia Highlands College Celebrates Nurse Graduates


Atrium Health Floyd President Kurt Stuenkel encouraged the students

ROME, Ga., May 10, 2024 More than 150 nursing students were celebrated during a graduation ceremony held Thursday at Georgia Highlands College.

“I couldn't be more energized and delighted about what we are doing together," said Kurt Stuenkel, president of Atrium Health Floyd, who addressed the crowd.

“Of course, we have a partnership, but I think of it as a completion of a circle. What was then Floyd Medical Center turned over its nursing school over to Floyd College more than 50 years ago.

“Now once again, decades later, Atrium Health Floyd is again investing in this nursing program. We were proud to partner with Floyd College over 50 years ago and once again we are very proud to advance education and healthcare in our region," Stuenkel added.

Atrium Health Floyd and Georgia Highlands College announced a partnership in 2023 that created the Atrium Health Floyd School of Health Sciences and Atrium Health Floyd Department of Nursing. Atrium Health Floyd offers scholarships and financial assistance to make nursing school more affordable for students in northwest Georgia

Stuenkel told the graduates he was also a student at the college at one time, taking accounting and economics classes on the way to receiving a master's degree in business. Stuenkel also served as a part-time teacher at the college.

He offered advice both from the standpoint of his personal approach to mindfulness and integrity and as an experienced health system leader.

“Every patient encounter is important," Stuenkel said. “We must never forget that each patient has unique needs. We need to be responsive and present for that patient."

He also related advice Dr. Dee Russell would often give to new medical residents at Floyd Medical Center.

Russell served as executive vice president and chief medical officer for Floyd prior to his retirement. He began his career at Floyd as director of Floyd's Family Medicine Residency program. Dr. Russell is a member of Floyd Healthcare Resources Inc. and the Hospital Authority of Floyd County.

“Dr. Russell would tell the new residents 'Don't screw up.' Then he would add to that 'Don't screw up alone,'" Stuenkel said.

The point is that usually in medical settings there is always someone nearby who can help.

“You need to strive to be a good teammate. Always be willing to pitch in, always be helpful, friendly and supportive of others. A great team can do great things and it makes the work fun," Stuenkel said.

About Atrium Health Floyd
The Atrium Health Floyd family of health care services is a leading medical provider and economic force in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Atrium Health Floyd is part of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Advocate Health, the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,500 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center – a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center in Rome, Georgia; Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia; and Atrium Health Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; as well as Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center Behavioral Health – a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility in Rome – and also primary care and urgent care network locations throughout northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Atrium Health Floyd also operates a stand-alone emergency department in Chattooga County, the first such facility to be built from the ground-up in Georgia.

About Atrium Health 
Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health is part of Advocate Health, the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, which was created from the combination with Advocate Aurora Health. A recognized leader in experiential medical education and groundbreaking research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine is its academic core. Atrium Health is renowned for its top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Atrium Health is also a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine, providing care close to home and in the home. Ranked nationally among U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals in eight pediatric specialties and for rehabilitation, Atrium Health has also received the American Hospital Association's Quest for Quality Prize and its 2021 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award, as well as the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Equity Award for its efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, providing $2.8 billion last year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits. 

About Advocate Health 
Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs nearly 155,000 team members across 68 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation's largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $6 billion in annual community benefits. ​