Emory-Adventist Hospital plans to close

Emory-Adventist Hospital announced Wednesday that it will close its doors by the end of October.

The 88-bed hospital, in the suburb of Smyrna just northwest of the city of Atlanta, “is no longer sustainable in today’s dramatically changed health care environment,’’ officials said in a press release. The hospital’s board approved the closure decision Monday.

Emory-Adventist Hospital

The nonprofit facility, a joint venture between Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare and the Florida-based Adventist Health System, employs 400 to 500 people. The employees were notified of the impending closure on Wednesday, said a hospital spokeswoman, Tonya Long.

Emory-Adventist has been losing money, Long said. “Like many hospitals, we’ve faced a lot of financial challenges.”

The board explored many options on the hospital’s future, including a possible sale, she said. “Even though there was interest, none of the talks reached an agreement,” she said.

Emory and Adventist officials made a joint decision to close the hospital, Long said.

The shuttering of Emory-Adventist comes on top of the closure of four rural hospitals in Georgia in the past two years, though Smyrna is in a suburban area.

Emory-Adventist has served 1,600 inpatients, 26,000 outpatients, and 25,000 ER patients on an annual basis.

“Along with the dedicated physicians and employees of Emory-Adventist, we have worked hard over the years to make the hospital successful in its mission to serve the Smyrna area community,” said Pete Weber, the Emory-Adventist Hospital board chairman, in a statement Wednesday. “EAH has earned a well-deserved reputation for high quality, compassionate care. Ultimately, however, the new market conditions in health care have made it impossible for EAH to continue operation.”

Weber said that even though the hospital has been able to lower costs, it has had difficulty attracting enough patients in a highly competitive market to be financially sustainable.

The Smyrna hospital competed with metro Atlanta heavyweight powers WellStar Health System, Northside Hospital and Piedmont Healthcare, among others, for privately insured patients. Hospitals in general also are facing pressure on their reimbursements from health insurers and government insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid.

Dennis Kiley, the Emory-Adventist Hospital CEO, said the hospital is committed to a careful transition process, with a continuing focus on quality care for patients and support for  employees.

The hospital opened in 1974, and the Adventist Health System bought it in 1976, making it the first health care facility in the Atlanta area to be affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

A joint venture was struck in 1995 with Emory, leading the hospital to be co-owned by the two organizations.

The Adventist system has 37 hospitals in the United States, including a northwest Georgia facility, Gordon Hospital in Calhoun.

Kiley said the hospital will be making every effort to help its employees find new jobs, and will host job fairs with local employers.