Georgia legislatures are criticizing Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System for committing to invest nearly $800 million in a planned partnership with Augusta (Ga.) University Health System to develop an ASC, a medical office building and a new hospital after shutting down two of its own Atlanta-area hospitals in 2022, according to a June 5 report from the Augusta Chronicle.
In December, Wellstar signed a 40-year contract with the Augusta system just a month after closing the 460-bed Atlanta Medical Center. Critics said that the closures created a healthcare desert in the area, according to the report.
At a June 5 meeting of the Georgia Senate's health and human services committee, Sen. David Lucas and Sen. Nan Orrock criticized the health system for closing down the hospitals for financial reasons but investing so much capital in another project.
"There's money. It was just not spent here. You folded your tent and walked away," Ms. Orrock told Wellstar executives at the meeting.
Wellstar's CEO said that closing the hospitals was unavoidable, citing aging infrastructure, low patient volumes, skyrocketing labor costs and the loss of coronavirus relief funds.
The senators also allege that legislatures weren't made aware of Wellstar's financial struggles until after the hospitals' closures were announced.