September 10, 2007
Documentary puts a human face on Grady crisis
By Kim Urquhart
A Grady doctor and Emory student have teamed up to create a documentary film that puts a human face on the crisis at Grady Memorial Hospital, one of the largest public hospitals in the Southeast and a nationally known teaching hospital for the Emory and Morehouse Schools of Medicine that is facing more than $120 million in debt.
“Save Grady” was written, directed and edited by Emory College junior Evan Kananack and produced by Neil Shulman, an associate professor in the School of Medicine. Shulman is best known for his book “Doc Hollywood,” which was developed into a film starring Michael J. Fox.
“I saw how the power of film can get a message out,” said Shulman, who thought a film about the Grady situation “could be used to catalyze the movement” for those advocating to save the financially troubled hospital. He connected with Kananack, founder and executive producer of the Emory TV channel The Link, to produce the documentary this summer.
“Save Grady” has so far been featured in two campus showings, which have drawn medical students, state legislators, social activists, concerned citizens and others and sparked conversations. The viewings have served as forums for advocacy efforts, like those led by a group of concerned Emory students who are petitioning Gov. Sonny Perdue for state funding to keep the public hospital in operation.
Yet creators say the film is intended to be informational, not political. “We made a conscious effort to avoid the politics and instead focus on putting a face on the issue,” said Kananack. The creators hope that stories of patients such as Joanne, an unemployed single mother who does not have insurance to treat her son’s asthma and her own diabetes, is proof of why Grady is needed.
“One of our objectives was to hear from the people who are affected, particularly the patients,” said Shulman. “Grady is a lifeboat in an ocean where the uninsured are drowning.”
“What I hope this movie does is to show that Grady is an important institution and that we need to do something about it,” said Kananack. “Its purpose is to present the issues — to make sure that people understand that this is a hospital that saves people’s lives, many of them people who cannot afford health insurance but still need access to care. And with its connections to Emory and Morehouse, Grady is an important institution to the training of future doctors.”
The creators support the film’s widespread use. “The film is a vehicle to get the word out and make people more aware of the situation at Grady,” Shulman said. “We want people to play it, to steal it, to do anything they can to use it to save Grady.”
For showtimes, visit www.savegrady.com.
• For more information on the historic Grady-Emory partnership, see http://whsc.emory.edu/emory_grady_partnership.cfm
• For all the latest news on the state of Grady’s finances and the efforts being made by many, including Emory, to find a new model for supporting Grady, see http://whsc.emory.edu/grady_news.cfm
• To see the final report of the Greater Grady Task Force of the Metro Chamber of Commerce, containing the group’s recommended steps for ensuring Grady’s long-term viability, see www.metroatlantachamber.com/images/GGTFFinalReport.pdf