WellStar to close Atlanta Medical Center ER ahead of hospital closure

ATLANTA, Ga. (WUPA) — The latest developments on a local hospital closure that’s raising concerns.

WellStar announced this week that it is closing the Atlanta Medical Center emergency room, more than two weeks before shutting the hospital down.

Alarm bells rang out when WellStar announced plans to close the more than 100-year-old Atlanta Medical Center. Now, plans for an early shut down of the hospital’s emergency room have doctors bracing for impact.

“The emergency departments around the city are going to become even more busy than they already are,” said Dr. Shayan Ghiaee, an emergency medicine resident physician at Grady Health System. 

Shiaee shared his own views, which he indicated do not represent his employer or any institution.

“I’m concerned that every emergency department in the city’s wait times are going to increase,” he said.

Patients will now turn to emergency rooms at Grady, Piedmont, and Emory Hospitals. He’s also concerned about other doctors and workers.

“I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for them, you know, on top of this new stress that’s being added to the patient population of this city that I love,” said Ghiaee.

Wellstar says AMC averages seven trauma patients checking in a day and says the other hospitals are more than equipped to handle it. In addition, Wellstar will start diverting ambulances to other hospitals on October 3, saying this will help with the transition and staffing when it shutters the ER on October 14.

“It’s not gonna change how much time we spend with our patients and how much we truly care about our patients,” said Ghiaee.

Grady is set to receive $260 million, including $130 million in American Rescue Plan funds and funds from negotiating higher Medicaid reimbursement rates.

“Any sort of assistance to any health system from the government is always great, as long as we can also make sure there is appropriate staffing as well,” Ghiaee said.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ office issued a statement in relation to the situation: “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.”

Despite any challenges, Ghiaee is optimistic.

“We are ready and we are excited to take on all of those patients,” Ghiaee said.

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