Grady at the Crossroads
So are faculty
Nadine Kaslow, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Ruth Parker, Professor of Medicine


 

Vol. 10 No. 4
February/March 2008

Return to Contents


The Long and Winding Road
Tenure and the Presidential Advisory Committee

Presidential Advisory Committee

“I get a lot of files to read for the PAC, and I start reading and say, Why am I spending my time? This is clearly someone there is no question about.”

“I think [the PAC has] helped to elevate the aspirations of the various units, to create a more uniform scholarly work culture. ”


Grady at the Crossroads
So are faculty


Pattern and Symmetry in the Human Body
A simpler side of complexity for teaching and learning


Why not buy lottery tickets?
Beyond "you can't win if you don't play"


Endnotes

Click here for a link to photos of the HealthLink rally for Grady.

Click here for the public letter from Grady doctors released in November 2007 (.pdf).

The below is an expanded version of the essay that appeared in the print version of the Academic Exchange.

The question posed by Academic Exchange to dedicated Emory faculty based largely or solely at Grady Hospital was “How does the crisis as it has developed affect faculty work, life, and morale, and what will the effect be on faculty if Grady closes.”

We appreciate the opportunity to have our voices heard on this matter of grave concern. We represent a multi-specialty and multi-disciplinary group of Emory clinicians, researchers, teachers, and administrators who have dedicated our career lives to Grady. We reflect the remarkable diversity of the faculty, staff, and students who work primarily at Grady; we are women and men who come from multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds. We, like all of the faculty members that we speak for, are proud role models for our students, our peers in the broader Emory community, our children, and the next generation of health care providers. We are honored to be considered among the ranks of Emory’s “faculty of distinction”. We feel fortunate to work for an institution that values community engagement and cultural awareness and difference.

When was the last time that you participated in a rally of faculty and students with hundreds of people in attendance? When was the last time that you signed a letter with hundreds of other faculty members that was then sent to media; state and local government, business, and faith leaders; and university officials? When was the last time that you published an OpEd piece related to your workplace? These events occurred and continue to take place because we love Grady and deeply care about our patients and are willing to publically advocate for both. We also believe in Grady Hospital and its ideals and mission.

It must be noted that many of us and our faculty colleagues chose to come to Emory University School of Medicine because of Grady and a passionate dedication to providing quality services to all people in society, including those who are indigent and either uninsured or underinsured. We are invested in the academic endeavors of scholarly inquiry and teaching as they relate to understanding and caring for the health and health care needs of those most vulnerable in a culturally competent and compassionate manner. 
           
Since its inception, Emory University School of Medicine has been tied closely to Grady and our faculty and students have been a part of the fabric of Grady Hospital. We work here every day and every night, doing our best to take care of some of the smallest and most vulnerable babies in the state, to provide state-of-the-art burn care, and to save the lives of severely injured trauma patients. We, alongside our colleagues from Morehouse School of Medicine, offer ongoing care for tens of thousands of patients with chronic and serious illnesses like depression, diabetes, sickle cell, HIV-infection, asthma, tuberculosis, psychosis, hypertension, and cancer, and we do so for patients of all ages who have nowhere else where they can receive high quality care in the community. And we are able to offer such care, in part, because of the tremendous support that we receive from the committed staff members (e.g., nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, lab techs, etc.) at Grady. We simply can not imagine Grady Hospital closing. Grady has been a bright star in the history of our city and in the history of Emory University.
           
As faculty, we are aware that other public hospitals with academic ties have closed. We recognize the problems with the antiquated infrastructure at Grady, the difficulties with providing quality care with limited resources, and the fact that Grady is insolvent. Other academic health centers and public hospitals around our country have been at similar crossroads. The root cause of this crisis relates to the growing number of uninsured Americans, and our failure, as a nation, to provide universal access to healthcare services. We are not naïve to the complexity and gravity of this crisis. To the contrary, we know that issues of quality, cost, and disparity are central to the health care debate in the United States today and recognize that these issues are intertwined with the decisions that need to be made about Grady. We hope that leaders in our community will work collaboratively to develop and implement creative solutions for Grady that will address universal access to high quality care provided in a fiscally responsible manner and will do so in a fashion that will make Grady a model for our country for ensuring the viability of academically affiliated, safety net hospitals like Grady.

 

How Does the Crisis Affect Our Work and Life?

So how does the crisis affect our work and life?  We are extremely concerned about what will happen to our patients’ physical and mental health if this crisis is not resolved. Their fate is much more important than ours. We recognize that the presence of Emory faculty is essential to the provision of quality care at Grady Health System and thus, each day we come to work we wonder how much longer we will be able to take care of the people that we have seen for many years. We are working harder and harder to ensure that our patients get their overall healthcare needs met. At the recent rally outside Grady Hospital, many faculty offered poignant and powerful stories of the quality and heartfelt care they and their teams have provided, the lives they have saved, and the gratitude of those they have served. We want to have more such stories to tell.

The clinical care that we provide is linked to our teaching. All Emory medical students and most of the thousand residents, as well as other health care professionals that train at Emory, rotate through Grady. It is at Grady that our students learn how to listen to the life stories of those who are less fortunate. It is at Grady that our students are trained to render care from the heart to people in our community who often have no place to live and no food to eat, and who have lives filled with trauma and tragedy. Grady teaches our students to be compassionate health care providers and compassionate human beings. Students hear stories that are unforgettable and filled with a richness that most students at other institutions only read about. Faculty simply can not envision an Emory School of Medicine and graduate training program without Grady. It would be an immeasurable loss if Grady were to close or if we no longer trained our students here. The impact would be felt by future generations of health care providers in Georgia.

Our patients have taught us so much and have informed our scholarship, which in turn has helped our patients and has had broader implications for population health locally, nationally, and internationally. Health disparities research is a top priority in our country and we are uniquely positioned to advance this agenda. Many Emory faculty members have had productive research careers focused specifically on the physical and mental health care needs of the poor and people of color. There have been groundbreaking discoveries by Emory faculty based at Grady related to such diverse topics as antiretroviral therapy, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke care, trauma, domestic violence and suicide, health literacy, neonatal care, asthma, cancer, and sickle cell disease. Many of us have federally funded grants that support studies to be conducted at Grady. What will happen to these areas of research inquiry and investigations if Emory faculty can no longer perform this research at Grady? And what will happen to our academic careers as faculty? What will be the impact of lack of research data relevant to patients served at Grady?

How Does the Crisis Affect our Morale?

So how does the crisis affect our morale? We are worried. We are scared.

We are confused. We feel helpless and sometimes hopeless. We do not sleep well.

The good news for our morale is that we are incredibly engaged with one another in discussions about what to do and how to not only save but revitalize Grady. It is heartening to note that the Grady-based faculty members of the Emory and Morehouse Schools of Medicine are united by the desire to have Grady survive and thrive and by a willingness to fight to make this happen. Moreover, faculty and students based at Grady have never collaborated more effectively. The crisis at Grady has energized everyone who is passionate to save Grady, not because we want to save our workplace or lifestyle (most of us could readily go and work somewhere else), but because we care about the population that we serve.

We are grateful to the efforts of HealthStat, the student group that is coordinating the “Grady is Vital” campaign (www.healthstatgeorgia.org). Countless faculty have donated considerable financial support to Healthstat’s campaign. This faculty and student activism makes us proud.

 

In Closing

Many of us came to Atlanta and Emory and remain in Atlanta and at Emory to devote our lives to treating patients at Grady, training the next generation of health care providers to care for underserved and underprivileged individuals, and carrying out research studies that help inform the disparities agenda for health. As Emory faculty we feel connected to the University Strategic Plan and feel strongly that Emory is a place where “courageous inquiry leads” and where on a daily basis we must confront the human condition and human experience. The Emory faculty based at Grady are committed to doing whatever we can, small or large, to assist in the process of ensuring that Grady survives and thrives. In fact, each of us in the Emory community, irrespective of our site of service, can help by publically stating our support of both the changes in governance currently underway and in securing additional funding. We sincerely hope that all concerned parties and our entire community will do what is right and make wise choices that ensure that Grady is the best public hospital it can be, thus enabling Emory faculty and students, as well as our colleagues at Morehouse School of Medicine, to provide care to the patients we cherish. 

As Emory’s students have proclaimed, Grady is vital! It is vital to our community and our state. Just as Emory is vital to Grady, Grady is vital to Emory and to us as faculty. We are Emory faculty and we also are proud members of the Grady family.


The following faculty provided feedback and endorsement to this essay. Their service to Grady, with that of the authors, totals 454 years.

Henry Blumberg, Professor of Medicine
Jada Bussey-Jones, Assistant Professor of Medicine
William Casarella, Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs
Carlos del Rio, Professor of Medicine and Vice Chair for Grady Affairs
Barbara D’Orio, Assistant Professor of Medicine
David Feliciano, Professor of Surgery
Michael Frankel, Professor of Neurology
Leon Haley Jr., Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs
Robert Hatcher, Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Katherine Heilpern, Ada Lee and Pete Correll Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine
Sheryl Heron, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Arthur Kellermann, Professor of Emergency Medicine
Steven Levy, Professor of Psychiatry
Tammie Quest, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Susan Ray, Associate Professor of Medicine
B. Denise Raynor, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstretrics
Grace Rozycki, Professor of Surgery and Chief, Division of Trauma/Surgical Critical Care
William Sexson, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs
Barbara Stoll, Professor and Chair, Pediatrics
Nanette Wenger, Professor of Medicine