Lawmakers file complaints against Wellstar after Atlanta hospital closures

Atlanta representative Kim Schofield: ‘We are committed to holding Wellstar accountable’
On Wednesday, local and state lawmakers filed two federal complaints against Wellstar Health System after it closed two hospitals in metro Atlanta.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 7:04 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Wednesday, local and state lawmakers filed two federal complaints against Wellstar Health System after it closed two hospitals in metro Atlanta.

“We are committed to holding Wellstar accountable. You won’t get away with this,” said Representative Kim Schofield (D – Atlanta).

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) presented the two complaints filed to the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We have account after account of Wellstar’s failure to consult with the mayor of East Point, with the Mayor of Atlanta, with Grady Hospital system,” said Sen. Orrock.

RELATED: ‘We cannot afford to lose this facility’ | Metro physician dismayed over AMC’s closure

Sen. Orrock said they believe a federal investigation by the IRS could lead to Wellstar potentially losing its tax-exempt status as part of its 501-c3 non-profit consideration.

“We ask the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether Wellstar has complied with Section 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code regarding at least two of its facilities, Atlanta Medical Center (AMC) and Atlanta Medical Center South (AMC South) and, therefore, whether it continues to qualify for tax[1]exempt status,” the complaint states.

Officials called Wellstar’s closures of the Atlanta Medical Center, in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Medical Center South, in East Point, as “intentional.”

Atlanta News First Investigates obtained a copy of a letter sent last year from the board to Wellstar trustees.

Wellstar Health System released the following statement about the complaints filed saying in part:

“Healthcare redlining on the part of Wellstar,” said Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts.

RELATED: Atlanta mayor says he was blindsided by Atlanta Medical Center closure

Pitts said 70% of the patients served by those two hospitals were Black.

“These two hospitals served the largest populations of Black patients of any of the ten hospitals it then owned. Wellstar should be held to account and required to repair the damage it has caused to a long-established system of care for the individuals formerly served by these facilities and the medical practices associated with or dependent upon them,” the complaint to HHS stated.

In 2022, Wellstar said it was forced to close the Atlanta Medical Center due to immense financial shortcomings.

Lawmakers juxtaposed the closures of AMC and AMC-South with where Wellstar has remained open and where it’s looking to expand.

In December, a month after the AMC closure, Wellstar announced plans to expand to Augusta with the intention of opening a hospital in Columbia County.

According to recent Census data, Columbia County is roughly 70% White.

Atlanta News First reached out to Wellstar for a reaction but did not get a response on Wednesday.