Atlanta hospital reports 30% more patients 4 days after Wellstar ED closure

Four days after Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center closed its emergency department, nearby hospitals' patient volumes are steadily rising. 

Grady Memorial Hospital has seen more patients since Wellstar announced the facility's closure, gradually amounting to 25 to 30 percent more trauma patients, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Oct. 18. Emory Midtown Hospital has reported 15 percent more emergency department visits. 

On Oct. 17, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital — 4.4 miles from Wellstar's facility — announced a "severely overcrowded" emergency room, according to the newspaper. All ambulances were diverted from the hospital. 

"I think what we're going to see is a seismic shift of citizens in Fulton County and the city of Atlanta that used to seek care at Wellstar AMC to now seek care at local hospitals," Daniel Owens, CEO of Emory Midtown Hospital, told the newspaper. 

Other experts predict the closure will negatively impact health equity. 

"The emergency room is often the first point of contact for patients to healthcare systems, especially people who are uninsured or underinsured, or lack access to care," Bonzo Reddick, MD, chair of the community medicine department at Macon, Ga.-based Mercer School of Medicine, told the newspaper. 

"I'm hoping that the silver lining will be that this is a wake-up call in Georgia, and that we start to look at Medicaid expansion and better ways to reimburse for healthcare," Dr. Reddick said. 

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