Keeping the doors of Atlanta’s public hospital open for all
"They Have a Dream," Editorial by Kate Neuhausen and Anjli Aurora, Emory Health, Summer 2008
By Mary J. Loftus
When Grady Memorial Hospital—which cares for Atlanta’s critically injured, chronically ill, indigent, and uninsured—found itself in need of resuscitation last year, student groups, a committed staff, and a concerned community came forward to save the public hospital. Grady now has a new CEO, an infusion of funding, and a prescription for regaining optimal financial health.
“The community stepped forward and rallied behind its mission and its goals,” says Chancellor Michael Johns. “That is what saved Grady.”
Indeed, Grady must not only survive, but thrive, decided the Emory advocacy group HealthSTAT (Health Students Taking Action Together). The student group created the “Grady Is Vital” campaign last fall, coordinated by Kate Neuhausen 08M, which brought together more than two hundred students and residents from across the state to deliver handwritten letters to the governor, organize rallies, and attend public hearings.
Their actions and many others focused urgent attention on the hospital’s plight. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, with the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority’s consent, created a task force to develop recommendations, which centered on changes in governance and funding. Grady is faced with trimming at least $50 million a year from its operating costs. “The task force report was the sea change in the whole process,” says Thomas Lawley, dean of Emory’s medical school.
The hospital’s structure was switched to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, governed by a nonpolitical, private board. The change in management cleared the way for Grady to receive promises of hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations and government funding.
Grady’s new CEO, Michael Young, former president and CEO of Erie County Medical Center Corporation in upstate New York, assumed his post in September.
“The target for Grady, and my commitment to the board, is to break even,” Young told reporters at a press conference in August, adding, “I know what Grady means to this community. I’m also an optimist.”