Metro Hospital moves forward with plan to end urgent care

Atlanta, Ga. (CBS46) – An Atlanta medical center is moving ahead with a plan to end emergency services, despite several Fulton County leaders’ requests for a pause. Nearby communities claim that the area will now be a so-called ‘hospital desert.’

“Growing up with them, they were always strategic about where they wanted to live.”

Ivan Vassell III, an East Point resident, recalls his parents’ plan, “Make sure you live near the hospital in case something emergency happens.”

Vassell moved in just across the street from Wellstar’s Atlanta Medical Center in the South decades ago. His family considered it a win. But now, for the same reason, it feels like a loss.

New signage has appeared on all hospital properties, “Urgent Care 24/7 Coming Soon. There is no emergency service. ”

This location is an ER serving the majority of communities south of Atlanta, areas such as the cities of East Point and South Fulton.

“It is very much like a desert,” Vassell declared. “Being able to walk somewhere can make the difference between life or death, the difference between moments that can diagnose a very serious problem.”

The facility will still provide tomography, behavioral health, and treatment for certain injuries and illnesses.

Some neighbors see it as a “resource depletion”. However, Wellstar argues that its urgent care service was underutilized in the first place.

“The vast majority of people who come to this site really need urgent and primary care,” explained East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham.

The mayor said the data showed that only five percent of patients had previously used ER hospital care. That’s why the facility claims it’s only responding to demand by changing its healthcare delivery model. But the change comes as the Fulton County Commission asked the agency last month to pause its downsizing.

President Pitts told CBS46 that he wants to review the tax plan that could bring in revenue for the hospital. The hospital confirmed to CBS46 that it was continuing with its plans on Friday. However, Mayor Ingraham believes her city can only focus on the cards being dealt for now.

“I understand the concern but it is essential that people [continue] to choose to receive their healthcare services here at this facility so it can continue to exist and thrive,” said Mayor Ingraham.

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