Wellstar Health System's announcement that it is turning the only emergency department in Fulton County south of Interstate 20 into an urgent care clinic is raising concerns among some officials in metro Atlanta.
WellStar said Wednesday it will close the ED and hospital beds at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center South in East Point outside Atlanta in May. It will turn the facility into a 24-hour urgent care and rehabilitation clinic, news outlets reported.
Wellstar CEO Candice Saunders told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the decision was prompted by patient admissions that were lower than average and a staff shortage.
“As we look at our community needs, we are changing to a model of care that we think lines up more with what the care needs are,” Saunders said.
East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham told WSB-TV she was worried. Wellstar says patients in need of emergency care would be transported to its Atlanta hospital about 10 miles (16 km) away.
“Miles and minutes could mean life or death," Ingraham said.
She plans to meet with Wellstar leadership in coming days.