Atlanta Medical Center officially closes emergency room

Emergency room closes at Atlanta Medical Center
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 7:28 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 11:51 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Atlanta Medical Center’s emergency room officially closed at 7 a.m. Friday. Workers placed signs at the entrance that read, “Emergency department closed. Authorized personnel only.”

When the clock struck 7 a.m., a few dozen employees stepped outside for group photos, hugs, and handshakes. Many of them had worked together for years.

Emergency room technician Johnny Baker worked at Atlanta Medical Center for 53 years. He was 20 years old when he first started. At the time, it was known as Georgia Baptist Hospital.

“It’s just like family. Everybody got along together,” he said. “It’s sad.”

When Wellstar announced its financial decision to close the 120-year-old hospital, he decided it was time to retire.

“This is my retirement day,” he said. “This is it for me.”

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The rest of the hospital will remain open until Nov. 1, although employees told Atlanta News First fewer than 20 patients remain in the 460-bed facility.

Employees said they worry about Atlanta losing one of its Level One Trauma centers, leaving Grady Memorial Hospital as the only facility in north Georgia with Level One status capable of handling the most critically injured patients.

“It’s going to take a real toll on this community, losing this facility right here,” said Dante Johnson, an anesthesia technician who’s worked at Atlanta Medical Center for 23 years. “It’s going to be a lot of lives lost because we’re closing.”

Wellstar has promised most AMC workers positions at its other hospitals. But Johnson isn’t sure he wants to stay with the company.

“I have gotten a few offers from other facilities myself,” he said. “I just haven’t made my mind up yet where I want to go because trying to take all this in. I really want to take me some time off for a little bit.”

Johnson said Wellstar has offered him a job at its North Fulton facility if he wants it. The company is paying him to take time off and think about it, he said.

Grady Memorial Hospital announced Thursday it now has 40 additional beds to accommodate patients who might’ve been taken to Atlanta Medical Center prior to the closure of its emergency room.