Decision to improve Georgia hospital closure protocol delayed

Georgia law currently requires hospitals to give 30 days notice ahead of closure.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:42 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A decision on legislation to change how Georgia hospitals operate has been delayed.

The Georgia Department of Community Health pushed back a decision on an amendment to require hospitals provide 180 days prior written notice before closure. The board was expected to vote on the amendment March 9. However, the vote was pushed to a later date citing public comments and feedback.

“We want to take a little more time to engage with constituents,” said Georgia Department of Community Health Commissioner Caylee Noggle.

The proposed amendment comes after the abrupt closures of two Wellstar Hospitals in the Atlanta metro last year. Atlanta Medical Center and Atlanta Medical South in East Point both unexpectedly shut their doors in 2022, giving employees and patients just a few weeks’ notice to rearrange their healthcare.

Hospital systems failing to comply with the 180-day notice would face a fine.

Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond said the change in policy is overdue.

“The only regret is that it wasn’t done last year,” said Bond. “There’s no end to what we could have done, had we had a heads up.”

Georgia law currently requires hospitals to give 30 days notice ahead of closure. Bond argues that’s not enough time for leaders to develop proper solutions for communities losing out on healthcare.

“It’s a safety blanket that’s being ripped away from their communities,” he said. “We could have worked more closer with Fulton county, perhaps to expand Grady… or we could have purchased the land, or gone out nationally to find another hospital center or turned that site into something else.”

The Department of Community Health could vote on the amendment in April but did not commit to making a decision by any date.