Wellstar seeking partnership to boost Atlanta Medical Center

Wellstar Health System is looking for a partner to help transform Atlanta Medical Center.

AMC has two campuses, with the biggest one a safety-net facility in central Atlanta, not far from Grady Memorial Hospital. The south campus is in East Point, just southwest of Atlanta.

The nonprofit Wellstar took over the AMC facilities in its 2016 acquisition of five Tenet Healthcare hospitals in the area. The Marietta-based health system said it will explore a variety of strategic options for Atlanta Medical Center, which experts say could include a joint venture or even a sale.

Wellstar said it has made $126 million in investments in the AMC campuses, including updating facilities.  But aging infrastructure is still an issue, and would be addressed as part of the partnership’s goals.

Atlanta Medical Center was founded in 1901, and for many years was known as Georgia Baptist Medical Center.

“For the past four years, we’ve been on this journey with the Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center teams and physicians to understand the individual needs of the AMC communities, to extend our mission, and increase the standard of care,’’ Candice Saunders, president and CEO of Wellstar, said in a statement. “As an invested community partner, we believe these communities need a long-term, sustainable solution – one that works to improve overall health and well-being. Our priority is finding the right solution for the community, and our current investments are not enough to fulfill these critical needs.”

Wellstar said it will be inviting “select organizations that meet its partnership criteria to submit proposals to further support Wellstar AMC.’’

Atlanta Medical Center last June reported net income of $8.5 million on revenues of almost $2 billion, according to American Hospital Directory statistics.

“At AMC, we are people taking care of people and are extremely proud of our progress in serving these communities. However, a long-term, sustainable solution will require a substantial, additional investment that we, as a not-for-profit, cannot fund alone while maintaining access to care for everyone we serve,” Kem Mullins, a Wellstar executive vice president, said in a statement. “As a result, we’re expanding our discussions to include others who believe there is a better, more sustainable way to meet the health care needs of our Atlanta communities.”

Dave Smith, a consultant with Kearny Street Consulting, said Friday that when Wellstar took over the Tenet hospitals, Atlanta Medical Center “was the odd duck in the portfolio.’’


The majority of Wellstar’s 11 hospitals are in suburban or exurban areas, he noted.

“They’ve done a great job with their other facilities,’’ Smith said. “I think it’s smart that they’re looking for a partnership.’’

Atlanta Medical Center, as a safety-net hospital, has a high number of Medicaid and Medicare patients, Smith said.

But it also sits on the verge of an area that’s seeing a great deal of development, he added.

A potential partner may come from an organization outside metro Atlanta, Smith said. “It’s a great move on Wellstar’s part to say, ‘We can’t do it on our own.’ ’’