In a statement, WakeMed said its board of directors and Dr. Atkinson agree that the separation is in the best interest of both parties.
"We are thankful to Bill for his years of tenure and leadership as we've managed the many complexities associated with today's healthcare environment and the economic uncertainties facing hospitals across the state and nation," said board chairman William H. McBride.
McBride said the board looked forward to welcoming a new leader as WakeMed works to address community growth and the challenges of health care reform.
The WakeMed system of hospitals and health care centers is a non-profit organization that includes facilities in Wake and Johnston counties. It has about 8,500 employees.
Atkinson, who has ten years on the job, recently made comments critical of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Medicaid system that many providers are having troubles with.
Neither hospital board members nor Atkinson was available for comment Thursday.
More at: www.wakemed.org.