On August 31, Wellstar Health System suddenly announced it would shut down Atlanta Medical Center on November 1. We, at New Georgia Project Action Fund, are deeply disappointed and concerned by this decision that has left the city we call home scrambling to protect its residents ahead of a harsh winter marked by the flu, COVID, and monkeypox.
This closure puts hundreds of AMC staff out of jobs and forces many Georgians to worry about what will happen when they need emergency medical care. AMC currently serves as one of only two Level 1 trauma centers in Atlanta. Shutting down this crucial 460-bed facility in the heart of Georgia’s capital leaves just one hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital, to meet the needs of nearly half a million people—a majority of whom are Black. There is no doubt that many Georgians will suffer, if not die, because of this closure.
Earlier this month, Governor Brian Kemp announced an allocation of $130 million in federal funds to permanently increase Grady Hospital’s capacity. It is important to recognize that this funding would not have been possible without all the Georgia voters who showed up to the polls in unprecedented numbers in 2020 and 2021; you are the reason Senators like Rev. Raphael Warnock were able to pass the American Rescue Plan Act and secure these resources for our state. Thank you.
But, as grateful as we are that Grady will receive the aid necessary to cope with this tragedy, we must ask how we got to this point in the first place. While Georgia’s healthcare infrastructure crumbled and our ranking fell to one of the worst in the country, where were our leaders?
“Our Governor waited until September of his re-election year to care about healthcare in Atlanta,” says New Georgia Project Action Fund CEO Nsé Ufot. “He is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds, waiting for the most politically opportune moment to distribute them. It’s disgraceful. Georgians deserve better.”
Photo from New Georgia Project’s COVID vaccine clinic in January 2022
Photo Credit: Steve Schaefer, AJC
It is clear that Georgia is in a healthcare crisis—one worsening by the day. While no single action alone can save our medical infrastructure, holistic long-term solutions are necessary and must include prioritizing healthcare as a right as opposed to a commodity, promoting racial and gender equity in our healthcare systems, supporting medical professionals—whether that be by improving education and job opportunities or forgiving student loans—and expanding Medicaid. Georgia is one of 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid, making clear where our priorities lie—not in helping our state’s most vulnerable communities.
Georgia: our leadership is failing us, and we need to make changes to save ourselves. We have that power. If you care about issues like healthcare, affordable housing, reproductive justice, or a livable wage, sign the pledge to vote in support of NGP's Dirty Souf Democracy Agenda.
Election Day is November 8. We’ll see you at the polls.