ATLANTA - In less than two months, one of only two level 1 trauma units in Atlanta is set to close. It has served the urban communities surrounding it for more than a century.
Just two weeks after Wellstar Health System officials announced it would shut down Atlanta Medical Center on November 1, protesters gathered outside the hospital Tuesday holding signs and chanting the words several hospital employees told FOX 5 they wished they could say.
"Wellstar doing this…they know that they are going to be putting people’s lives at risk and people’s jobs at risk," protester Luis Resendic Rivera said in an interview Tuesday. "This community and this area…there’s over 200,000 people that depend on this hospital."
A number of employees watched from across the street silently cheering for the small group who showed up to stand in solidarity with them. While many were hesitant to speak on camera, others like Jazmine Price made their feelings known. Price made a TikTok about AMC closing that has since gone viral.
"It’s a lot of fear from the staff as well as the patients here," she said. "To put that burden on other hospitals in the area—Emory, Piedmont, Grady, and they’re already overwhelmed…people are gonna die behind this at the end of the day and that…that bothers me," Price stated.
In a statement about the decision, Wellstar Health officials cited financial losses as the reason for closing—saying the hospital lost more than $100 million last year.
"In America—in my experience—money is more important than life," Price said. "I feel like it’s absolutely racially motivated at the core of this…it’s a lot of people that look like you and I and I feel like we are going to be affected the most," she added referring to residents in the historically Black neighborhoods surrounding the hospital.
Price said the decision that blindsided staff members has left the patients they tend to every day wondering where they’ll go and many hospital employees feeling like the people behind it don’t care.
She told FOX 5 some staff will be without a job while others are being assigned to different Wellstar hospitals in the region. Organizers of the protest said they are holding another rally for AMC to stay open Friday at 6:30 p.m. in front of the steps of the Atlanta City Hall.