CEO Statement About AMC Closure
Wellstar Leaders Speak About Hospital’s Closing
By Candice L. Saunders, FACHE and O. Scott Swayze, MD
Atlanta Medical Center (AMC) has proudly served the community with compassionate healthcare for more than 100 years. It’s a legacy of service and success spanning its years as Tabernacle Baptist Infirmary, Georgia Baptist Hospital and AMC, and at Wellstar, we are honored to have been part of this story.
We understand and share the community’s disappointment that the hospital has closed as of November 1. While the decision may have felt abrupt, it came after an exhaustive search where a national consulting firm identified a number of potential partners. However, after learning more about AMC’s infrastructure and finances, none were willing to move forward. Discussions with state, local and community officials also offered no alternate paths forward.
Throughout the transition, we have remained focused on supporting our AMC patients and team members. Because our top priority is ensuring patient safety, we worked to thoughtfully wind down services in advance of the closure, including safely transferring the few remaining patients to other appropriate Wellstar hospitals and connecting with partners to ensure people receive the care they need.
We are deeply grateful to the hundreds of AMC team members and clinicians who have worked hard to ensure a successful transition and for their many years of service at AMC. We are honored that nearly 75% of our more than 1,780 offers to AMC team members for new positions have been accepted, and we are grateful they will continue in their shared pursuit of Wellstar’s mission and vision. Now that the hospital has been safely closed, Wellstar will continue to secure and maintain the facility and begin a thoughtful process to determine what is next for the site.
The challenges we faced at AMC were multi-faceted and included the age of AMC’s buildings, patients using less than half of the bed capacity, lack of public support while caring for communities most in need of whole-person wellness offerings such as primary and preventive care. Compounding these issues were the intense financial pressures facing hospital systems across the country. Like many of our peers, we felt the pain of the end of government pandemic aid and the skyrocketing costs of supplies and labor. The needed investment to address these challenges was simply too great for Wellstar alone.
As we look ahead, Wellstar will continue to build lasting partnerships that will provide people with increased access to the care they need. As the largest provider of uncompensated care in Georgia, we are proud to serve 1 in 6 Georgians in diverse communities across the region. We will continue to be there for those who need us for primary and specialized care and through our critical role in the statewide collaborative trauma network.
Through our recently announced partnership with Southside Medical Center, Wellstar will invest $5 million in Southside’s East Point clinic to expand their size and capacity and provide greater access to much-needed primary and preventive care, among other services. This is the latest example of our long-standing commitment to partner with others to provide ongoing care to the AMC community.
Our vision for the future requires collaboration with mission-aligned partners and with our friends and neighbors in our communities. That includes partners within and beyond the healthcare industry who can bring unique ideas and perspectives to support the health of the whole person, address the social determinants of health and expand access to world-class care when, where and how people need it. Together, we can transform healthcare to support the people we serve throughout their health and wellness journeys — not just when they are sick or injured. We can build the bold future of care Georgians need and deserve.
Candice L. Saunders, FACHE, is the president and CEO of Wellstar Health System, one of the largest and most integrated health systems in Georgia. A former critical care nurse, she leads nearly 25,000 team members and physicians overseeing the health and well-being of communities throughout the state.
O. Scott Swayze, MD, is the chair of the Board of Trustees for Wellstar Health System. He is an accomplished orthopaedic surgeon, practicing at Pinnacle Orthopaedics and belonging to local, state and national orthopaedic associations.