Worry for city’s health surrounds loss of Atlanta Medical Center

Plans to replace the network of care and use of the Atlanta Medical Center property remain uncertain.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Hours after Atlanta Medical Center closed its doors at midnight Monday, some state and city leaders and community members gathered to lament the loss of the hospital.

Plans to replace the network of care and the future use of the valuable AMC property in downtown remain uncertain. Many have insisted that the site should continue to provide health care for the good of the public. Advocates continue to emphasize that the impact of AMC’s closure will not be fully felt until someone needs services and they are not available.

As workers removed the Wellstar sign attached to the facility at 300 Boulevard NE, community members voiced their worry about the end of what is considered a staple within the community. The comments were made Tuesday morning at a rally hosted by the Georgia NAACP and The People’s Uprising, a community based organization that focuses on equity for the underserved.

Nakita Hemmingway, the Democratic candidate for Georgia agriculture commissioner, said she was in Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency room Monday after learning that her uncle had died as a result of a medical emergency.

“What I experienced yesterday was a scene from any post-apocalyptic or zombie movie you have ever seen,” she said, describing gurneys in the hallway and lines of people waiting for care. “This is what we’re dealing with right now,” said Hemmingway. “...The dysfunction that I experienced at Grady is because they’re already stretched thin.”

In a statement released Monday night, Grady officials said they are adding personnel and other resources to meet the increased demand. “Grady remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of the community we are privileged to serve.”

Community activists expressed concern about the barriers to health care faced by members of underserved communities following the closure of AMC’s downtown and South Fulton locations. Many people do not have access to transportation to get to other Wellstar locations that the health system directed them to.

Angelina Alford, a longtime resident of Old Fourth Ward where AMC was located, said the effects of AMC’s closure has not been understood.

“I don’t drive. I don’t know how to catch the bus. So it’s hard for me to get to a hospital,” Alford said. “We need a hospital in our neighborhood. It’s hurting us real bad.”

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams spoke on what she described as failed leadership from Gov. Brian Kemp. She says that under four years of Kemp in office, Georgia has lost six hospitals and refused billions in federal dollars that would have come if Georgia had expanded Medicaid.

“It should trouble the soul of every Georgian that we have a governor who refuses to accept the source of revenue that could save the lives of our people,” Abrams said.

Kemp has denied that there was anything he could have done to save AMC from closing.

“Stacey Abrams continues to blame Governor Kemp for every problem known to man, facts be damned. Despite Wellstar saying the AMC closure had nothing to do with Medicaid expansion,” said a Kemp spokesperson in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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