Atlanta mayor says he was blindsided by Atlanta Medical Center closure
‘The closure will leave an open wound in the heart of this community.’
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Wellstar has informed its employees that the Atlanta Medical Center in downtown Atlanta is scheduled to close on Nov. 1.
Atlanta Medical Center is only one of two trauma centers in metro Atlanta that can take care of people with critical injuries like gunshots, burns, blunt force trauma, etc.
According to an employee of the hospital, it was chaos inside after the staff received a memo announcing the closure and staff patients are worried about their patients.
Staff members also say that the people who will be hurt the most by the closure are the low-income residents of metro Atlanta. Fifty thousand of the 65,000 patients who were seen in the ER of Atlanta Medical Center over the past year are considered low-income.
Mayor Andre Dickens said that he was blindsided by the announcement. He sent a letter to the Wellstar Health System President Candice Saudners saying, “The closure will leave an open wound in the heart of this community.”
The mayor is demanding a meeting by Sept. 16 during which Wellstar is expected to explain the surprise closure.
Candidate for governor Stacey Abrams, leaning into one of her campaign promises, said this loss can be eased with expanding access to Medicaid.
“And Georgia is not equipped to deal with the medical crisis this will create. The only solution is Medicaid expansion and brian kemp is too callous and too cruel to do the right thing,” said Dickens.
Gov. Kemp’s office sent the following statement:
“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 memo that was sent to staff members said the closure is a result of money issues and said they tried to find a solution to avoid the closure, including reaching out to government healthcare providers, local organizations for funding, etc. However, nothing panned out.
The closure of the hospital, which has 460 beds, will impact thousands of workers and patients who work at and depend on Wellstar.
Atlanta Medical Center South closed earlier this year.
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Memo sent to employees:
This communication is being sent on behalf of Candice L. Saunders, President and CEO
Wellstar AMC Team Members, As you may have heard, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations at Atlanta Medical Center Downtown on Nov. 1, 2022. Our intention was for you to hear this news directly from us tomorrow because we realize this news impacts the lives of all our team members and patients in very personal and significant ways.
Though we have invested heavily in the hospital for the past six years and pursued every opportunity for an alternative path forward, we can no longer sustain operations at AMC. We have spent the last many years working to find a long-term, sustainable solution for the hospital’s future, and this was not the direction we wanted to take. We are committed to supporting each of our impacted AMC team members, who have long served our communities with compassion and excellence.
Beginning, Thursday, Sept. 1, operations and HR leaders will be meeting with all teams across AMC. Our Human Resources team will provide personalized guidance and support to you through this transition. Please look for an email tomorrow from ConfidentialHR@wellstar.org with specific details about your role and next steps.
How We Got Here Since purchasing AMC in 2016, Wellstar has invested more than $350 million over the last 6 years, which includes $107 million in operating losses in just the last 12 months. Wellstar has pursued every opportunity to partner on a sustainable, long-term solution for the hospital’s future, including outreach to government agencies, healthcare providers, and local organizations in search of partnerships or additional funding. 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. We will cease operations at AMC on Nov. 1, 2022. We are committed to thoughtfully transitioning care to protect the health and safety of current patients and will keep our community informed throughout this process.
Supporting Our People We are committed to supporting each of our AMC team members and physicians through this transition, including extending job offers to many of our AMC team members at other Wellstar facilities based on open positions, current roles and skillsets, patient volumes and critical needs across the System. We are also providing support from Human Resources and Employee Assistance Program. As a non-profit health system and the largest safety-net provider in the state, Wellstar remains a financially sound organization overall and firmly dedicated to advancing our mission to enhance the health and well-being of every person we serve through our 9 other hospitals, 350+ medical office locations, urgent care locations and more. We are proud to continue to serve more than 1.6 million Georgians across many diverse communities, and we remain a top provider of charity care in the state and the nation.
This decision is extremely difficult, and this is not the outcome we wanted. However, as we move forward, on behalf of our Board of Trustees and executive leadership team, thank you for your continued support of our mission and all those we serve. Candice L. SaundersPresident & CEO
Letter from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is demanding information regarding Wellstar Health System’s intention to close the Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
Mayor Dickens sent a letter, available here, to Wellstar Health System President & CEO Candice Saunders today noting the City was blindsided by the announcement which will have deep consequences for the health and economy in Atlanta.
“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,” Mayor Dickens wrote in the letter. “The City of Atlanta received no advance notice of this decision and had no opportunity to engage with you to understand or help mitigate the factors leading to this closure. I require immediate information about your company’s plans, what you are doing to mitigate the enormous health and economic impacts the closure will have on our community, plans for the multi-building campus once operations cease, and how you will be supporting the impacted personnel.”
Read Mayor Dickens’ full letter to Wellstar here: www.atlantaga.gov/home/showdocument?id=56496&t=637975559974850486
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