ATLANTA — Fulton County's top official said Thursday the announced closing of Atlanta Medical Center was "shocking" to him, because he had been in close contact with WellStar officials over changes at a hospital in East Point - and they never mentioned anything about Atlanta to him.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners chairman, Rob Pitts, also said after a review the county had determined there was "no legal recourse to prevent this closure."
Pitts issued a statement on Thursday about the closure of AMC, which has been met with a similar outcry by numerous local officials. The closing of the facility by WellStar will remove one of the two Level 1 trauma centers in operation in metro Atlanta.
Pitts, in his statement, said he had been in communication with WellStar officials for months as they planned to close the emergency room at the South Fulton Hospital and transition it into an urgent care facility.
"The sudden announcement about the Atlanta Medical Center decision was especially shocking after a series of meetings with WellStar over the course of several months about the closure of South Fulton Hospital. To date, I have not been contacted by anyone at WellStar about Atlanta Medical Center, nor has my counterpart, CEO Michael Thurmond at DeKalb County," Pitts said.
With no legal avenue to try to prevent the closure, Pitts said the next step would to address the "immediate need for a plan to absorb the 200 current staffed beds at Atlanta Medical."
"We have been in constant communication with leaders at Grady Health System, which anticipates an influx of additional patients, and is already in contact with the care team at Atlanta Medical to support patients with ongoing care needs," Pitts said. "We also recognize that Grady’s Emergency Room will experience immediate impact after the AMC closure.as will Emory Midtown Medical Center and Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. We are highly confident that the trauma team at Grady will be able to continue to meet the Level I trauma needs of our community along with the Level II trauma centers in the region."
Pitts said he was now focusing on the "long term resource needs - in terms of both finances and facilities."
"Specifically, there is a need for a new hospital facility in south Fulton, which currently has no hospital in operation," Pitts said. "As we work with our partners in DeKalb County, the State of Georgia, and within the healthcare community, we will be exploring every option to address the needs of our residents."
WellStar's timetable will have Atlanta Medical Center close in November.