ATLANTA — An announcement from Wellstar on Thursday said it would close down its emergency department at Atlanta Medical Center in about two weeks.
The department would be closed at 7 a.m. on Oct. 14, according to the company, ahead of their full hospital closure in November. Wellstar said they would divert patients to other hospitals starting on Oct. 3 at 7 a.m.
"This means we will ask our EMS partners to transport patients to other area hospitals before bringing them to the ED at AMC. We will still accept patients via EMS if needed through Oct. 14 at 7 a.m., but request that they choose other providers first when possible," Wellstar Health System said in a statement. "This will allow us to ensure we have the capacity, staffing and capability to treat all those coming to AMC for care for the duration of their care leading up to the hospital's closure."
Wellstar said it is communicating with the Georgia Department of Community Health, other emergency departments, government officials and other community partners to "ensure the smoothest transition of care for the community."
The health system also offered another list of other facilities that provide emergency medical care that are less than seven miles away from AMC in its news release, including Emory Hospital facilities and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
A spokesman for Mayor Andre Dickens responded to the announcement with a statement saying:
"The Mayor and his senior leadership tirelessly continue to coordinate with health care providers and stakeholders in the region to prepare for the impact of Wellstar’s unusually abrupt closure of one of Atlanta’s most important medical centers. While we are disappointed in the manner in which they have made these announcements to the Atlanta community—decisions that greatly impact our communities’ access to healthcare options and the burdens they create on the existing system—the administration continues to explore all options to minimize the impact of Wellstar’s short-sighted decisions."
Meanwhile, Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts stated he was told prior by the Wellstar that portions of the hospital could be closing before Nov. 1.
"I met with them approximately two weeks ago and I specifically asked was Nov. 1 a hard deadline for closure and the answer to that question was 'yes,'" Pitts told 11Alive. "The follow-up question was 'is it possible you could close earlier, or portions of it' and the answer to that was 'yes.' So, this isn't surprising news to me, they let me know personally that there was in fact a possibility that they would be closing certain operations prior to Nov.1, but on Nov. 1 they would so call "cut the lights out."
Pitts added that the plan at this point is to use Grady, Emory, and Piedmont hospitals for emergency services. He concluded by saying, "I'm comfortable with the plan we have in place."
More on AMC closing
Wellstar announced in August that they would cease operations at Atlanta Medical Center in November. Mayor Andre Dickens said that "AMC is a vital part of "Atlanta's healthcare ecosystem," as Grady Memorial Hospital is the only other Level I trauma center in metro Atlanta.
The hospital, which Wellstar has operated since 2016, has faced some challenges, including $107 million in losses in the last year. The health system officials said they'd battled decreasing revenue along with an increase in costs for staff and supplies; inflation and the pandemic have contributed to some of the strain.
Most recently, Dickens, on Sept. 29, announced that he signed an executive order that temporarily halts any redevelopment of the soon-to-be shuttered Atlanta Medical Center site.
In preparation for the emergency room closure, AMC provided this list of other area emergency departments:
-Grady Memorial Hospital (1.1 miles from AMC) - 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
-Emory University Hospital Midtown (1 mile from AMC) - 550 W Peachtree Street NW
-Piedmont Atlanta Hospital (4.4 miles from AMC) - 1968 Peachtree Road NW
-Emory University Hospital (4.6 miles from AMC) - 1364 Clifton Road NE
-Emory Decatur Hospital (6.8 miles from AMC) - 2701 N Decatur Road
-Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Hughes Spalding (1.1 miles from AMC) - 35 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
-Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston (4.9 miles from AMC) - 1405 Clifton Road NE