AP

Atlanta hospital announces closure, drawing mayor’s ire

Sep 1, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: 12:58 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — One of Atlanta’s largest hospitals said it plans to shut down in two months after experiencing more than $100 million in losses over the past year.

Wellstar Health System announced late Wednesday that the Atlanta Medical Center will close Nov. 1. The hospital operates a busy emergency room and is a vital health care provider for many low-income residents.

“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,” Wellstar CEO Candice L. Saunders said in a statement.

But those efforts, including possible partnerships with government agencies, did not materialize, she said.

The announcement immediately became an issue in Georgia’s contentious governor’s race. It also prompted a rebuke from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who told Saunders in a letter the city was blindsided by the news and needed “immediate information” about the company’s plans and what it was doing to “mitigate the enormous health and economic impacts the closure will have on our community.”

“Atlanta Medical Center is a critical element of Atlanta’s healthcare ecosystem,” Dickens said. “It serves some of Atlanta’s most vulnerable people.”

Wellstar has run the 460-bed hospital since 2016, but a hospital has operated at that location in downtown Atlanta for more than a century. Its 24-hour emergency room has the highest trauma designation and can provide comprehensive treatment for heart attacks, strokes, brain injuries and other serious medical conditions.

Its closure would leave nearby Grady Memorial Hospital with the only emergency room in the city with the same designation.

The closure will also have economic effects.

“This will be a loss of jobs, a loss of livelihoods and the loss of an anchor for other businesses serving folks that are coming to the hospital,” said Leah Chan, senior health policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

The shutdown will leave an “open wound in the heart of this community,” Dickens added in his letter, noting that the hospital also occupies a significant amount of real estate.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said Wednesday the closure was “yet another example of the failure of Brian Kemp to serve the people of Georgia.”

Georgia has experienced a spate of rural hospital closures that Abrams and other Democrats say the Republican governor could have prevented had he fully expanded Medicaid. Chan said full Medicaid expansion has helped hospitals in other states stay open by reimbursing care for patients who would otherwise be uninsured.

Gov. Kemp has said that plan would cost the state too much money in the long run and has instead proposed a more limited Medicaid expansion that would require recipients to work or attend school.

Wellstar said a full Medicaid expansion would not have saved Atlanta Medical Center.

Kemp shared community concerns about the effect of Atlanta Medical Center’s closure, the governor’s office said in a statement. It added that other hospitals and healthcare providers were in “active talks” about how the closure would affect 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 statement said.

Wellstar said it spent more than $350 million to cover losses and make improvements at Atlanta Medical Center since taking over the hospital in 2016. The company operates nine other hospitals in Georgia, but recently moved to shut down the emergency room and inpatient beds at another facility — Atlanta Medical Center South.

That hospital was in East Point, also an area with a relatively high proportion of low-income residents.

Wellstar said in a statement it spent more than $915 million last year in “unreimbursed care” for patients across the region and remains a top provider of charity care in Georgia and the U.S.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday.

1 day ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

1 day ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

1 day ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

2 days ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

4 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Atlanta hospital announces closure, drawing mayor’s ire