Leaders asking metro Atlanta hospital to not shut down emergency room

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County is getting ready to ask a local hospital to delay shutting down its emergency room.

Channel 2 Action News recently reported that Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South in East Point would transition from an ER to urgent care.

“Where would everybody in this area go?” asked Pamela Carson.

For five years, Carson has lived right across the street from Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South in East Point.

“It’s real convenient. You know, if you’re not feeling well. If I’m sick, I can go to the hospital, have somebody pick me up,” said Carson.

Now, that convenience may go away.

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The Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center leader announced that the emergency department and hospital beds will close in May. Carson said that decision will hurt the neighborhood.

“If there’s an emergency, it could take too long to get to the next hospital,” she said.

Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South is the only ER within Fulton County south of Interstate 20.

“Either Atlanta Medical or Grady. They’re probably about 20 minutes or so, depending on traffic, though,” Carson said.

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On Tuesday, Grady Health System CEO and president John Haupert met with Fulton County leaders and the DeKalb Hospital Authority in downtown Atlanta to discuss a possible alternative.

“We will together, Grady and Fulton County, will conduct a community health needs assessment, that will really help guide the decision making around what’s needed. The chairman did state that he was going to contact Wellstar tomorrow to see if they might consider slowing down the timeline for closure,” Haupert said.

Wellstar emailed Channel 2 this statement:

“We are not closing Atlanta Medical Center South. We are transitioning the model of care to better meet the needs of our community. On average, AMC South has 140 ER visits daily, and of those, only seven (5%) involve hospital admissions. Regarding this transition, we have been communicating and coordinating with local health care providers for some time and will continue to do so. In those discussions, we have not received any concern regarding this transition.”

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The closing date for the ER is May 8.

Grady leaders mentioned they are not able to take on additional projects if there is no funding tied to them, so the cost will have to be covered by Fulton County if they were going to consider taking things over.

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