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Digital redering of new Health Sciences Building
March 12, 2024

Atrium Health Floyd-Polk Foundation Donates $2 Million

The Atrium Health Floyd-Polk Foundation has announced a $2 million donation to the new Health Sciences Building at Berry College, to help improve problems with access to quality healthcare in Northwest Georgia.

This grant is in keeping with the Foundation’s commitment to help resolve the root causes of issues in our community.

“What a privilege it is to make this significant investment in Berry College, future students and the health and wellbeing of our communities,” said Mary Helen Heaner, chair of the Atrium Health Floyd-Polk Foundation. “Our foundation was established to make a difference. This partnership will improve lives, open doors to opportunities and ultimately make our community healthier, both physically and economically.”

Kurt Stuenkel, Atrium Health Floyd President, said the partnership will help meet a growing workforce need in northwest Georgia.

“The health care industry already is experiencing a shortage of physicians and advance practice providers, and with population growth in our region, we need programs such as this one at Berry College. We are thankful that Berry has the foresight to establish this program, and we look forward to a great partnership in training PAs through clinical experiences in our health care system.”

The collaboration between Atrium Health Floyd and Berry College is an effort to address disparities of health and access to health care providers.

Berry President Steve Briggs expressed gratitude for Atrium Health Floyd-Polk Foundation’s vision for Northwest Georgia.

"This generous donation is a testament to their belief in the transformative power of education. We are excited about the opportunities this partnership creates for our nursing and physician associate students in our local communities. Together, we are working to improve this place where we live, work, and serve,” Briggs said.

Berry’s two-year Master of Medical Science – Physician Associate degree (scheduled to begin in August 2025 pending accreditation) will enroll up to 40 new students every year. 

“It will include an emphasis on meeting rural health needs and will be the first of its kind in Northwest Georgia. We intend to recruit PAs with a specific interest in our region,” said Briggs.

More than a century ago, the college’s founder Martha Berry was disturbed by the daunting needs and cyclical poverty of families living in rural Northwest Georgia. She believed that young people were the region’s most important natural resource, and that education was the gateway to opportunity.

Northwest Georgia has prospered, but many residents still struggle with financial difficulties and inadequate food and housing, leading to chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Access to care is a persistent problem, compounded by a regional shortage in physicians and advanced practice providers (physician associates and nurse practitioners). This partnership will help secure a pipeline of health care providers to meet the needs of surrounding communities.

Berry will hold a groundbreaking March 22 for the new Morgan-Bailey Hall which features 36,000-square-feet of academic space including two nursing skills classrooms, a large Physician Associate classroom/skills laboratory, an advanced simulation suite, a simulated operating room, a physical assessment laboratory, five other classrooms, and various exam rooms and discussion spaces. The space will accommodate 80 PA students and 160 nursing students with an additional residential third floor for student housing.


Atrium Health Floyd-Polk Foundation​ is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation established in 2021 with $161.7 million in assets realized from the strategic combination of the Floyd health care system and Atrium Health. The mission of the foundation is to serve as a trusted regional resource partner by investing in community organizations to drive transformational change in health and well-being for all. The primary focus of the foundation is to address disparities of care in the service areas of Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center and Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center. ​

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