Children’s Health Care of Atlanta has announced that in the coming months it will be suspending and consolidating its rehabilitation services at locations around the metro-Atlanta area, including Forsyth County.
According to a statement made by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), by Dec. 31, 2019, audiology and outpatient rehabilitation; including pediatric audiology, occupational and physical therapy, and speech-language pathology, will no longer be offered at the Children's at Forsyth, Alpharetta Highway, Mount Zion, Sandy Plains, Fayette and Satellite Boulevard locations.
In addition, CHOA says that it will close two locations during that period; Children’s at Alpharetta Highway and Children’s at Mount Zion.
“Over several years, we’ve seen a decline in volume to the point where it is not practical to deliver outpatient rehabilitation care at these locations,” the CHOA statement reads. “Ultimately, after taking a close look at our outpatient rehabilitation program, we had to make this decision but we are committed to maintaining access to our outpatient rehab.”
In an email to the Forsyth County News, CHOA spokeswoman Jessica Pope said that they will be working closely with patient families during the transition period and will direct those who wish to remain with CHOA to one of the three remaining locations offering rehabilitation services; the Medical Office Building at Scottish Rite in Atlanta, Children’s at North Druid Hills and the Town Center Outpatient Care Center in Cobb County.
“Remaining patients will transition to localized community providers with assistance from their therapist, social worker and case manager,” Pope said.
In the wake of this news, thousands of people from all around the metro-Atlanta area have come out in opposition, claiming that the consolidation will negatively impact both families and children.
“What will the countless children receiving care at these facilities do for speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding therapy, audiology,” an online petition titled, “Kids south of Atlanta Matter, too! Keep CHOA South of Atlanta!” states. “When all of the evidence-based research shows that early intervention is key, why is CHOA, a business dedicated to helping children, choosing to close so many locations.”
As of last week the petition had gathered over 5,300 supporters.
A similar petition has also been started north of the metro-Atlanta area by a Forsyth County resident, Tonya Lang, who says that her family has been devastated by the news that her son will be losing his therapist in the coming months.
Lang said that her 7-year-old son Mason was born with a complex congenital heart defect called HLHS and suffered two "watershed strokes" that affected his body at an early age. But with the help of CHOA’s rehabilitation therapists, he has made incredible progress, Lang said.
"When we brought him home he couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t feed himself, all that had to be retaught," she said. "We were lucky enough that down here at the Collection they have the CHOA rehabilitation center for children and Mason has made great strides … It’s been a blessing."
Lang said they haven’t decided what their family will do when the consolidation happens, but they are fairly certain they will have to transfer to a facility outside of CHOA’s network, which will mean more driving and going through the process of getting Mason acquainted with a totally new therapist.
"It's not just about having to drive further out … these kids are already so traumatized and they are having to put their trust in a complete stranger to help them meet their goals," she said. "It’s a burden on the families and the kids.”
Whatever their family decides, Lang said it's her hope that other local healthcare providers will see the consolidation and the need for care, and step up to offer those specialized rehabilitation services to families in their local community."If they did, parents would follow," she said. "That would be huge."