Atlanta Hospital closure leaves those in need without proper care

Photo by John Spink | AJC

On Nov. 1st, 2022, the city of Atlanta faced one of its biggest losses in years. Last Tuesday, WellStar Atlanta Medical Center permanently closed its doors. AMC served the city of Atlanta as a level-one trauma center. With its sudden closure, Grady Hospital has become Atlanta’s last level-one trauma center. This makes Georgia one of the states with the lowest number of level-one trauma centers with only five remaining.

AMC faced a lot of struggles that led up to its closure. Its buildings were very old, some dating back to its founding in 1901. Patients often took up less than half of AMC’s maximum bed capacity. The hospital’s lack of public support mixed poorly with the overwhelming increase of financial pressures on hospitals. The hospital began to struggle financially during the pandemic, losing 75.5 million dollars in 2020, and 40 million in 2021. The ending of government financial aid for hospitals facing the pandemic and the increasing cost of supply and labor was too much for the hospital to handle financially.

What does AMC’s closure mean for Grady Hospital? Well, in a statement released after the closure of AMC, Grady hospital had this to say to the people of Atlanta. “We want the city of Atlanta to know- Grady isn’t going anywhere. Our medical team and staff will continue to show up every day, just like we always have.” Grady is already seeing an influx of patients and has gone ahead with implementing an additional 40 beds. 

Level-one trauma centers can treat severe traumatic injuries like gunshot and stab wounds, blunt force trauma, brain injury, cardiac arrest, car accidents and serious burns. The loss of AMC means that Grady is having to pick up their slack. Governor Brian Kemp has announced that the hospital is going to receive a one-time federal aid package of 130 million dollars. This money would allow Grady to implement an additional 200 beds. However, this does not fully make up for the 460 beds lost due to AMC’s closure.

 A majority of those who have worked at AMC will be going on to work at other hospitals in the area like Grady and Emory, or at other WellStar locations. Grady has stated that they specifically plan on hiring trauma surgeons and primary care physicians that have previously worked at AMC.

AMC’s closure is just one example of America’s struggling healthcare system. Many of AMC’s patients lacked health insurance. This resulted in a massive loss of income for the hospital. The expansion of Medicaid and the making of healthcare less expensive could have helped prevent the issues that AMC faced. The increasing cost of labor and inflation have also contributed to the closure of hospitals. The price to maintain a hospital has skyrocketed. Because of this, more and more hospitals are closing left and right. This issue was first seen in rural areas; however, it has now begun to affect major cities Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Atlanta. The people of Atlanta are now having to pay the price of this issue, with those in need of care having one less place to turn to.