City of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced the extension of Atlanta Medical Center’s temporary moratorium via press release on Monday, a motion that prohibits investors from making efforts to redevelop the hospital’s property.
The mayor first issued the moratorium by executive order on September 26, preventing the city’s Department of City Planning from accepting applications from outside developers to alter the 15 parcels of land up for grabs in the hospital’s closing. The department is advised to turn away requests to rezone, consolidate or further modify the property currently housing the facility.
According to the press release, Dickens’ renewal buys time for the Atlanta City Council to ratify the moratorium.
“I appreciate the Atlanta City Council’s full partnership in ensuring that the future of the Atlanta Medical Center property is in line with the needs and vision for the Old Fourth Ward community,” Dickens said in the press release. “This moratorium provides the time and space necessary to work with the community, health care providers and other stakeholders to address the impact of this unusually abrupt closure of one of Atlanta’s most important medical centers.”
Atlanta Medical Center has served as a landmark for the community for over 100 years. The facility traces its roots back to the Tabernacle Infirmary, founded in 1901 by Dr. Leonard Gaston Broughton, a physician and pastor of the early 20th century. The Georgia Baptist Convention purchased the infirmary in 1913, changing its name to Georgia Baptist Hospital. The Georgia Baptist Convention sold the hospital to Tenet, a for-profit health care corporation, decades later in 1997, who changed the hospital’s name to Atlanta Medical Center in 1999.
Wellstar Health System purchased the medical center from Tenet in 2016, reportedly investing over $350 million into the facility since the company assumed ownership. After 6 years of service, Wellstar plans to cease operations completely on November 1, citing accruing financial losses as a primary cause for closure. According to an update released on the company’s website, the hospital’s emergency department will close two weeks earlier, on October 14.
“For several years, Wellstar has continued to invest in and operate AMC with significant losses to provide more time to partner on a creative, long-term, sustainable solution for the hospital’s future,” said Candice L. Saunders, CEO of Wellstar Health System, in the online update. “After an exhaustive search for a solution that would support the health care needs of the community, we are disappointed that a sustainable solution at AMC has not emerged.”
According to the mayor’s press release, the Atlanta City Council “considers [drafting] an ordinance to ratify the moratorium.” Eleven of the 16 council members reportedly support the ordinance.