Atlanta Medical Center Downtown to close November 1

Atlanta Medical Center Downtown (AMC) will cease operations before the end of the year, officials confirm.

Wellstar Health System announced their intention to close AMC on November 1. 

"For several years, Wellstar has continued to invest in and operate AMC with significant losses to provide more time to partner on a creative, long-term, sustainable solution for the hospital's future," said CEO Candice L. Saunders. "After an exhaustive search for a solution that would support the healthcare needs of the community, we are disappointed that a sustainable solution at AMC has not emerged."

In the past six years of operating the hospital, Wellstar says they have invested more than $350 million. Officials added that in just the last 12 months, the hospital has lost more than $107 million.

They credit the pandemic, rising inflation, and "intense financial headwinds" for making the issues at the hospital more difficult to fix.

"We realize this news impacts the lives of our team members and the patients we serve in very personal and significant ways," said Saunders. 'We are deeply grateful to the dedicated team at AMC who have long served our communities with compassion and excellence."

It's unclear what will happen to doctors, nurses and other staff at the hospital, but in a letter to employees, Wellstar says they are "committed to supporting each of our AMC team members and physicians through this transition, including extending job offers to many of our AMC team members at other Wellstar facilities."

They also say they will be providing support "from Human Resources and Employee Assistance Program."

According to 2019 tax filings, AMC employed roughly 2,800 people.

Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center Downtown in Atlanta (FOX 5).

Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center Downtown in Atlanta (FOX 5).

In response to the AMC announcement, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens sent a letter to Wellstar noting the city was "blindsided."

"This decision will have deep and reverberating consequences for the half a million residents of Atlanta and the hundreds of thousands of visitors and commuters to our city each day," Mayor Dickens wrote in the letter. "The City of Atlanta received no advance notice of this decision and had no opportunity to engage with you to understand or help mitigate the factors leading to this closure. I require immediate information about your company’s plans, what you are doing to mitigate the enormous health and economic impacts the closure will have on our community, plans for the multi-building campus once operations cease, and how you will be supporting the impacted personnel."

Gov. Brian Kemp's Office issued the following statement on the closure:

"The governor shares the concerns of the community on the impact this will have. Other local hospitals and healthcare providers are in active talks on how this closure will shift their needs and services. As they work to make the appropriate adjustments, Governor Kemp will continue to build on the policy innovations introduced over the past four years that have grown access to quality healthcare while bringing down costs for Georgians across the state."

With Wellstar's closure, Grady Memorial Hospital will be the sole level one trauma center in Atlanta.

Grady Health System released a statement, saying in part "there will be harmful consequences on healthcare access for the people of metro Atlanta and hospitals across the region."

"Grady Health System is extremely disappointed in Wellstar’s decision to close Atlanta Medical Center (AMC), which serves a predominantly minority and underserved community. In April, Wellstar made the decision to close the AMC South location with the caveat that they would remain committed to serving the community. Closing its second hospital in less than six months will have a devastating impact on patients, employees, and the Southeast region. Further, by not having a transition plan and referral mechanism for its patients, there will be harmful consequences on healthcare access for the people of metro Atlanta and hospitals across the region.

"As a not-for-profit health system, Wellstar’s mission was to enhance the health and well-being of every member of the community, but they have clearly prioritized profits over people leaving 460 licensed hospital beds in the community empty and more than 120 patients per day having to seek emergency care elsewhere.

"Grady is really the only true safety net in Georgia, and it runs over capacity daily, and this decision by Wellstar to abandon the community will further strain our operations, particularly our emergency room, as more patients will present with medical needs. We have seen a significant increase in emergency room visits since AMC South closed, which will be further exacerbated once the downtown AMC location is closed.

"Grady’s commitment to serving our community with excellence will remain unchanged as we stand true in our mission to enhance the health and well-being of every patient we serve. Grady is exploring all legal options available to protect our patients, employees, and this entire region."