Is the closing of the Women's Center at South Fulton Medical a sign of the economic times?

6:29 PM, Jul 20, 2012   |    comments
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EAST POINT, Ga. -- In a community used to specialize health care, when the economy and costs forces certain services to be chopped out, it affects not only patients but employees as well.

And that's exactly what's happening at South Fulton Medical Center in East Point.

Shutting down at the Tenet Healthcare hospital are the Labor, Delivery and Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units in the Women's Center.

For the community, it's a real sense of loss.

"It will be an inconvenience for the community to have to go to another place. Re-routing them in their course of a day, everyone doesn't have a car, everyone doesn't have the ability to go to other places and get around so I think it will be a disservice," said Sharnell Jewell, a So. Fulton Medical Center patient.

But both hospital and public health officials say it's a sign of the economic times.

"We've always thought that healthcare was a recession proof industry but in the past recession it has shown this is not the case. We have pretty big decreases in health care and it is hurting providers especially those serving primarily patients on Medicaid or uninsured patients," said Dr. David Howard of the Emory School of Public Health.

And South Fulton Medical is not immune.

"If the volume is declining as we have seen the volume over the past year decline at South Fulton, it doesn't make sense because of the cost of having an OB service, so it makes more sense to go into a large facility which has the volume that can accommodate those services," said Jacqueline Herd, Chief of Nursing at Atlanta Medical Center (another Tenet hospital).

And that is just what Tenet is doing.

Moving the South Fulton women's services, which handles more than 1,200 births a year, from East Point to the 50-bed Atlanta Medical Center Women's Center in Atlanta.

Protected along the way are the employees.

With 4 hospitals in Metro Atlanta, Tenet Healthcare says there will be jobs for the 80 people who will lose their jobs at South Fulton.

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