ATLANTA — One of two level one trauma centers in metro Atlanta is closing, hospital officials confirmed on Wednesday night.
Wellstar Health System announced their intention to close Atlanta Medical Center in Downtown Atlanta on November 1. In the meantime, they say they will gradually “wind down” services offered at the hospital.
They say that in the past six years of operating the hospital, they have invested more than $350 million to support losses.
Officials add that in just the last 12 months, the hospital has lost more than $107 million.
“For several years, Wellstar has continued to invest in and operate AMC with significant losses to provide more time to partner on a creative, long-term, sustainable solution for the hospital’s future,” said Wellstar CEO Candice L. Saunders. “After an exhaustive search for a solution that would support the healthcare needs of the community, we are disappointed that a sustainable solution at AMC has not emerged.”
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They credit the pandemic, rising inflation and “intense financial headwinds” for making the issues at the hospital more difficult to fix.
The health system says that they have approached government agencies, healthcare providers and other local organizations in an effort to find a solution to the issues.
“We realize this news impacts the lives of our team members and the patients we serve in very personal and significant ways,” said Saunders. “We are deeply grateful to the dedicated team at AMC who have long served our communities with compassion and excellence.”
There is no word on what will happen to doctors, nurses and other staff at the hospital.
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As Grady Memorial Hospital will soon be the only level one trauma center in metro Atlanta, they released a statement saying they are “extremely disappointed” in Wellstar and call themselves the “only true safety net” for Georgians.
They say they run over capacity every day and will put a strain on their emergency room.
Grady Memorial Hospital spokespeople say that Wellstar has “clearly prioritized profits over people.”
Grady Health System is extremely disappointed in Wellstar’s decision to close Atlanta Medical Center (AMC), which serves a predominantly minority and underserved community. In April, Wellstar made the decision to close the AMC South location with the caveat that they would remain committed to serving the community. Closing its second hospital in less than six months will have a devastating impact on patients, employees, and the Southeast region. Further, by not having a transition plan and referral mechanism for its patients, there will be harmful consequences on healthcare access for the people of metro Atlanta and hospitals across the region.
As a not-for-profit health system, Wellstar’s mission was to enhance the health and well-being of every member of the community, but they have clearly prioritized profits over people leaving 460 licensed hospital beds in the community empty and more than 120 patients per day having to seek emergency care elsewhere.
Grady is really the only true safety net in Georgia, and it runs over capacity daily, and this decision by Wellstar to abandon the community will further strain our operations, particularly our emergency room, as more patients will present with medical needs. We have seen a significant increase in emergency room visits since AMC South closed, which will be further exacerbated once the downtown AMC location is closed.
Grady’s commitment to serving our community with excellence will remain unchanged as we stand true in our mission to enhance the health and well-being of every patient we serve. Grady is exploring all legal options available to protect our patients, employees, and this entire region.
Spokespeople for Governor Brian Kemp told Channel 2 Action News that he shares the concerns of the community and said that other hospitals are talking about how to make adjustments from the closure.
“The governor shares the concerns of the community on the impact this will have. Other local hospitals and healthcare providers are in active talks on how this closure will shift their needs and services. As they work to make the appropriate adjustments, Governor Kemp will continue to build on the policy innovations introduced over the past four years that have grown access to quality healthcare while bringing down costs for Georgians across the state,” the governor’s statement read.
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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens released a statement on Wednesday night highlighting his displeasure at the announcement.
“This decision will have deep and reverberating consequences for the half a million residents of Atlanta and the hundreds of thousands of visitors and commuters to our city each day,” he wrote in a letter to Saunders.
The mayor says that the City of Atlanta was not notified of their intention to close the hospital, giving them no opportunity to help “mitigate the factors leading to this closure.”
“With this decision, and the recent closure of Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South, your company has now closed two hospitals that primarily serve low-income populations in the metro Atlanta community,” he wrote.
In his letter, Dickens also demands a meeting with Wellstar leadership no later than September 16.
Earlier this year, Atlanta Medical Center South, which operated the only emergency room in Fulton County south of Interstate-20, was transitioned from a hospital to a 24/7 urgent care facility.
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