WABE's Week In Review: The politics around closing the Atlanta Medical Center as advocates fear a health crisis is looming

After the closure of the Atlanta Medical Center, Grady will be the only Level 1 trauma center in Atlanta. (Lisa Hagen/WABE)

Lisa Hagen / WABE

The state of Georgia is set to allocate $130 million to Grady Health System in an effort to help the hospital prepare for an influx of patients with the closing of the Atlanta Medical Center (AMC).

The onetime funding comes from federal dollars given to Georgia through the American Rescue Plan that Democrats passed last year.

The money is set to help Grady permanently add 180 beds by the end of next year.

“These are not Band-Aid solutions,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “They are meaningful, carefully thought out and implemented measures designed to ensure this cornerstone of Atlanta’s health network is on solid footing for many years.”

“Adding 180 or 200 beds at Grady cannot solve a systemic collapse of public health,” said Kemp’s Democratic opponent for governor Stacey Abrams. “This is a cumulative issue. “

Abrams is calling for Georgia to fully expand Medicaid to access billions in federal dollars and reduce the number of uninsured patients at the state’s hospitals. 

Kemp has backed only a partial Medicaid expansion and limiting the requirements from the Affordable Care Act.

The AMC has lost millions in recent years, according to Wellstar Health System, which runs the Level 1 trauma center.

Last (level) one standing...

After the closure of the Atlanta Medical Center, Grady will be the only Level 1 trauma center in Atlanta. (Al Such/WABE)

A Level 1 trauma center deals with an expansive array of healthcare needs from preventative measures to the most serious injuries quickly stabilized before often being transferred for further care. With the closing of the AMC, Grady would be Atlanta’s only other Level 1 trauma center.

“We’re working on a long-term solution to the loss of this facility,” said Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts speaking after Kemp at an event announcing the $130 million in aid to Grady. “[I]n all probability [this] is going to mean a new facility somewhere.”

Grady is jointly owned by DeKalb and Fulton Counties.

Closing AMC will limit access to emergency and primary care for minorities and people making low income, according to advocates.

“This is the Old Fourth Ward and this is the only place they come if they get sick,” said Lavern Wright at a rally to stop the closure of AMC this week. “They close this, they will have to go all the way downtown to Grady.”

The closure also means many healthcare professionals will lose their jobs.

“Displacement is always tough,” said Dr. Christophe Jackson, who was at the rally and has worked at AMC for the last five years. “I think that’s going to be a hard thing for everyone. It’s not just a disruption in one area, it’s a disruption in all areas, right?”

Wellstar AMC is set to close in November.

Remembering Page Pate…

Prominent lawyer and WABE Legal Analyst Page Pate drowned Sunday in the waters off St. Simon Island. He was just 55 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth, two sons, Chatham and Asher, his parents, Robert and Mary Elizabeth and his younger brother, Lane.

Get more from Page’s WABE colleagues as they remember their co-worker and friend.

Hear a Closer Look special on the legacy of Page Pate.

Also in this episode…

Martha Dalton looked at the difference between Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams in their education plans for the state.

DorMiya Vance reported on Atlanta food banks fear of rising food costs as they see more people in need.

And we took a ride to remember in exotic cars with kids who’ve survived or are surviving severe medical issues.