Consumer advocates want more notice on Georgia hospital closures

Consumer advocates want more notice on Georgia hospital closures

By Nick Thomas, Becker’s Hospital Review

Following Marietta, Ga.-based Wellstar Health System’s abrupt closure of two Atlanta Medical Center facilities in late 2022, health systems in the state should in the future provide 180 days of notice of their intent to shutter, according to a consumer advocacy group in an Aug. 1 Northwest Georgia News report.

The 30-day notice of Wellstar’s closure was far too short and lacked transparency, said Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch, speaking to a Georgia House committee.

“It happened so fast, and the community is still devastated,” she said in the report. “We want this to be a much more public process.”

The House committee is looking at ways to modernize the state’s certificate-of-need regulations. It typically takes about 180 days for applicants to go through the CON process in Georgia, so it would make sense for hospitals planning to close their doors to give that much notice, Ms. Coyle said.

The Georgia Department of Community Health is currently considering such a period, but Georgia Watch wants the 180-day window to be codified in state law, Ms. Coyle said.

Such a mandate could prove problematic for already struggling hospitals, as would other ways of increasing transparency, such as requiring systems to produce quarterly financials, Republican House members said.

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