Almost a year after East Point ER closed, new clinics are coming to Fulton County

Grady’s two new clinics will offer primary and specialty care to residents south of I-20.

Al Such / WABE

Grady Health System is opening two new outpatient clinics south of Interstate 20 this year. The clinics have been in the works for a while, but they are now set to open in a changed landscape for south metro health care.

East Point’s Wellstar Health System Atlanta Medical Center-South emergency department closed almost a year ago. Since then, residents have lived without a full-service ER south of I-20 in Fulton County.

The new Grady outpatient clinics will not provide emergency care.

But hospital officials say they’ll help increase access to primary and specialty care in the county. The specialty services include cardiology, x-ray, labs and mammography, rehabilitation, HIV and pharmacy services.

The two new Grady clinics were planned at least a year before Wellstar shut down AMC-South. 

“We have listened to our community and paid close attention to the areas that need more health services,” said Grady President and CEO John Haupert. “We conducted research and identified these neighborhoods that have seen significant population growth but have historically lacked access to primary and specialty care.”

The clinics are projected to handle around 30,000 primary care visits per year, according to Grady.

Since the shutdown of AMC-South, followed just months later by Wellstar’s closure of the Atlanta Medical Center hospital in the Old Fourth Ward, Grady’s patient volume has increased significantly, which hospital administrators had anticipated. And Grady’s downtown ER is currently expanding to create more trauma capacity. 

Both new Grady outpatient clinics are under construction at existing buildings, but officials said the needed renovations will cost more than $5 million to complete, paid for with federal and state funding from Georgia’s directed payment program Advancing Innovation to Deliver Equity.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens released a statement applauding the new clinics. 

“Grady’s new outpatient centers — and the sense of urgency in ensuring they are fully operational by the end of this year — reflects their values and continued commitment to Atlanta’s communities,” he said. “They understand the need for primary, urgent and specialty care below I-20 and have met the moment. Thank you to Grady and all of our partners while we continue to work with an array of stakeholders to bring another hospital to our city — the group project that is Atlanta,” he said.

Meanwhile, south metro officials continue to pursue options for a new full-service emergency department.

Fulton County also recently advanced an agreement with Morehouse School of Medicine to consider Morehouse’s proposal for a new primary care clinic in East Point, located near the former site of AMC-South.  

Fulton County and Morehouse School of Medicine are in talks about a new potential Morehouse primary care clinic in East Point, located near the former site of AMC-South hospital.

District 4 Commissioner Natalie Hall said the new Morehouse clinic is needed to help address the critical gap in medical services residents south of I-20 face.

“We are doing what we need to do to address a long-term issue in the community. Access to health care has been an issue for years,” she said. 

The Morehouse plan grew out of the results of a study conducted by Morehouse and Ernst & Young on the impacts of last year’s Fulton County hospital closures on the region’s health disparities.  

“We concluded that the closure of these hospitals exacerbated longstanding issues within the community, specifically the exit of Wellstar hospitals in Central and South Fulton, along with the withdrawal of an extensive primary care network,” said Pamela Roshell, chief operating officer for Fulton County Health, Human Services and Public Works, “and further exacerbated the medically underserved communities in this area and widened the health care access gap.” 

The Morehouse proposal still has a way to go before it would become a reality. But planners told the Fulton County Commission that they hope to move as quickly as possible on the project.

If commissioners ultimately approve the proposal, Fulton County officials say the new clinic would open in an existing building and without raising taxes.  

The first new south metro Grady clinic, Cascade Outpatient Center, is expected to open by July at 3355 Cascade Rd., Atlanta, GA 30311.

The second one, the Lee + White Outpatient Center, will be located at 1000 Lee St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30310. It’s on track to open towards the end of this year.