80% of Atlanta hospitals hit capacity following Wellstar ED closure

Since Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center closed its emergency department on Oct. 14, nearby hospitals have taken on its patients. An Oct. 25 report from 11Alive gave numbers to that toll: eight in 10 Fulton County, Ga. hospitals are listed as busy or at capacity. 

The news station got those numbers from GeorgiaCoordinatingCenter.org, the site used by emergency response teams when deciding where to take patients. 

The high wait times have multiple causes, Katrina Gipson, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Atlanta-based Emory University, told the news station. Wellstar's facility closed during an already pressing season — COVID-19, influenza and RSV rates are high, more people have long-term chronic illnesses and many hospitals are short-staffed. 

"The closure places additional stress and strain on local hospitals and care team members that continue to face workforce challenges and a surge in volumes, including those with respiratory illnesses such as flu," Janet Christenbury, director of media relations at Emory, told the news station. 

Emory is working to expand its emergency rooms and hire more staff, Ms. Christenbury told the news station. 

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