WellStar Health System has announced that Candice Saunders has been promoted to the role of WellStar president & chief operating officer. CEO Reynold Jennings’ contract will end on December 31, 2015, and at that time, Saunders will assume the role of WellStar president & CEO.
As COO, Saunders has developed a Hospital Presidents Council with WellStar’s five hospitals that has increased efficiency, enhanced patient satisfaction and improved communication within the System. She also played a key role in developing the open-heart surgery program at WellStar. Under her leadership, along with senior and physician leaders, WellStar has grown in national prominence and recently was recognized as a 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies Places to Work For®, AARP Best Employers For Workers Over 50, NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women 2014 and Working Mother Magazine’s 100 Best Companies. In addition, Saunders was named to Business to Business Magazine’s Women of Excellence list, which each year recognizes only 15 women for their performance, dynamic leadership and service to the community.
Saunders brings more than 30 years of healthcare experience to her new role. She joined WellStar in May 2007 as president of WellStar Kennestone Hospital and was promoted to executive vice president & chief operating officer for WellStar Health System in March 2013.
Prior to joining WellStar, Saunders was vice president of Clinical Strategy and Service Lines for Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va. She also served as chief operating officer of Inova Fairfax Hospital, an 833 bed medical complex. While at Inova, she developed and led the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute.
At Emory University School of Medicine, Saunders held overall administrative responsibility for the Department of Medicine Clinical Programs. She also managed the Emory Heart Center and Cardiology programs.
Saunders began her healthcare career as a critical care nurse in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She has also held key leadership roles in nursing and physician practice administration in both academic and community settings. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and master’s degrees in business administration and health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition, she is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, which is the country’s premier certification for healthcare management.