ATLANTA — The closure of one of just two level one trauma centers in metro Atlanta will have major effects on the community, doctors are telling Channel 2 Action News.
A major provider of emergency medical services told Channel 2 the closing of Atlanta Medical Center is “a scary proposition.” A doctor affiliated with Atlanta Medical for 20 years says “this will affect patients’ lives.”
Both told Channel 2′s Richard Belcher they are concerned about trauma care for the whole metro region.
With Atlanta Medical Center closing, Grady Memorial Hospital becomes the only level one trauma center in the area. That means that Grady may struggle with having enough room for all of the trauma patients.
“[It’s a] scary proposition to have to deal with a hospital closing down in an already bad situation,” says Terence Ramotar, a southeastern regional executive for AMR, a major EMS provider in metro Atlanta.
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Ramotar says hospitals are already dealing with workforce shortages and overloading, and closing a trauma center is a blow.
“How do we deal with that? How do we move these patients around and all the other challenges that come out of that? The time crunch is a pretty serious concern, because it’s 60 days,” Ramotar told Belcher.
Wellstar, the owner of the medical center since 2016, announced the closure in a release on Wednesday night that Channel 2′s Bryan Mims first brought to you on WSB Tonight.
In a statement to employees, the company’s CEO largely focused on the company’s losses of hundreds of millions of dollars at AMC. The statement says it will close November 1.
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“This closing affects all our lives, not just the people in that community but all of us,” says Dr. Cecil Bennett. He was affiliated with AMC from 2001 until he moved to a private practice in Newnan last year.
Dr. Bennett says he trained at AMC and at Grady, which taught him about the demands on trauma centers.
“I know how overwhelmed that system can be. Now to find out that a level one trauma center is no longer a viable option, and Grady is the only option, this will affect patients’ lives,” he said.
Ramotar says AMR already delivers 500 or 600 patients to AMC every month, and the average time from the arrival of one of his units until a patient has safely transferred to a nurse has already doubled from 25 minutes to 53 minutes. He expects it to get worse.
“That backs up the ambulances, which backs up the 911 systems in this community, which makes patients wait longer for those ambulances to come available and be ready to respond in their areas,” says Ramotar.
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Wellstar’s statement does not deal with the professional buildings which house physicians’ offices along Boulevard near the hospital.
Dr. Bennett told us those buildings are owned by Wellstar. If they’re sold and redeveloped or repurposed, those doctors would have to move, and that would cause hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patients to have follow their doctors elsewhere or find other doctors.
That’s one of many questions that are awaiting answers.
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