Emory-Adventist Hospital to close by Oct. 31
by Sarah Westwood
July 30, 2014 03:40 PM | 8928 views | 2 2 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — News that Emory-Adventist Hospital will soon shut its doors forever shook the city of Smyrna when officials made the decision public Wednesday.

The hospital, which sits off South Cobb Drive near King Springs Road, will cease operations by the end of October.

Pete Weber, chairman of the hospital’s board, said years of operating at a loss pushed the board to close the facility.

He said the past two decades of operation have seen only eight years of “positive earning.”

“Over all the years, you keep trying different things, but at some point you have to make a decision that you don’t believe it’s sustainable,” Weber said. “We finally had to take that action Monday night.”

Since Adventist Health Systems and Emory Healthcare teamed up to run the hospital in 1995, Weber said the partners have poured a combined $22 million into the facility to cover “shortfalls” in its operation.

Weber said the hospital’s affiliation with the two “significant partners” kept it running as long as it did.

The 88-bed facility does not operate at capacity, Weber said, citing its small size as a factor in its ultimate failure.

“We’re not anywhere near full,” he said, though he did not specify how many beds were occupied.

Weber said the board tapped a consultant to help it review possible alternatives to shutting the hospital down.

Despite a year of discussion and several attempts to reach a deal with prospective buyers, Weber said the board did not find another option.

“Even though the state requires only 30 days notice to patients, we’ve given a 90-day notice to make sure we have adequate time to deal with it in an appropriate way,” he said of the closure.

Weber said medical staff and doctors would work to make arrangements for patients at the hospital.

Patients will not be diverted to any one specific facility, Weber added, but will be sent to other care centers based on where their individual physicians choose to refer them.

Tyler Pearson, a spokesman for WellStar, said the health system is not involved in any talks regarding the building Emory-Adventist will leave behind.

Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar, said it was “very unfortunate” to hear of the hospital’s closure.

“WellStar Health System will work to ensure uninterrupted care for patients. For the employees who will be displaced, we will extend a hand to help them find work through job fairs and other venues,” Jennings said in a statement.

Councilman Wade Lnenicka said he thinks the city feels “devastated” in the wake of Emory-Adventist’s announcement.

“I think it’s a huge loss affecting the quality of life of the 52,000 residents,” Lnenicka said.

He said city operations across the board could take a hit when the hospital shutters, from where public safety takes prisoners in need of medical care to how the city performs after-hours drug tests.

Lnenicka noted Emory-Adventist is the only hospital inside Smyrna city limits.

“One of the great benefits of that hospital was that I think it had the best emergency room in metro Atlanta,” he said.

Lnenicka said he has shared a “very close working relationship” with the hospital since he was elected to the city council in 1988.

“For at least 15 years, I’ve been wanting them and begging them to please grow their hospital and expand their services or they would risk losing the hospital,” Lnenicka said. “It needed to offer more services and have more doctors.”

He said he did not yet know how the city would react, but added he hopes the council will address the closure at its next meeting.

“I got the news today basically when everybody else did … I would say I was disappointed to not be advised,” Lnenicka said, adding the hospital “will be terribly missed.”

Councilwoman Susan Wilkinson echoed Lnenicka’s dismay.

“It was very disappointing,” Wilkinson said. “I think a lot of our older citizens use the hospital for convenience.”

She said the city is home to several assisted living facilities — including nearby Woodland Ridge, also off South Cobb Drive — that rely on Emory-Adventist for much of its care.

Wilkinson said she expects the council to have a discussion about the closure at its next meeting, but expressed doubt the city could do much to keep the hospital’s doors open.

“At this moment, I’m not sure what we can do,” she said. “They’ve already made the decision.”

Comments
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4schitzngrins
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July 30, 2014
For those interested, you may want to ask Emory why they refused to buy the hospital, but also refused to sell the hospital to Northside & thus forced the closure.
Smyrna Gal
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July 30, 2014
I was there last month to pick up some friends and noticed how quiet and vacant that hospital was, compared to previous years. I wondered why so few patients and how much longer they could continue.....now we have our answer. Too bad--we'll miss the free parking, easy accessibility to the rooms.
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