Advocates Urge State Funding for Grady

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(APN) ATLANTA — Patients, doctors, employees, and other advocates held a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol building December 12, 2007 urging Republican Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the way in securing annual State funding for Grady Memorial Hospital.

“Grady is in a crisis because of what happened at the Gold Dome,” State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said. “We believe Grady ought to be helped by the State. If we can find millions of dollars to lock folks up, we can find money to keep Grady open.”

Members of the Grady Coalition then delivered a letter to Bert Brantley, Perdue’s press secretary, urging the State to restore $55 million that was cut from the hospital in 2007 and to use some of the $600 million budget surplus to help.

“Grady serves about one million Georgia citizens from 112 counties,” the letter states. “It is right and just that the State of Georgia commit to funding Grady Hospital.”

Several patients spoke of the benefits they receive and what they would face if Grady did not exist.

“It’s lost on lawmakers that Grady is our stand alone hospital,” Chioke Perry, Grady patient and activist with Atlanta Jobs with Justice, said. “I have no other healthcare outlet.”

John Franklin worked at Grady from 1971 to 1999 and still receives medical care at the hospital. Franklin is also active with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1644, the union that represents Grady employees.

“It’s only fair for Sonny to give money to keep Grady open,” Franklin said. “We are only asking Sonny Perdue to do what’s right by the patients.”

The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, Grady’s governing board, passed a resolution November 26, 2007, that set in motion a plan to hand governance over to a private, nonprofit entity.

But the governing board attached several strings to the resolution, one of which calls for Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville), and Speaker of the State House Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) to commit, in writing, to securing $30 million in annual appropriations for the hospital.

But this trio and other Republican leaders have been howling in protest since that vote, accusing the governing board of holding the State hostage by issuing such an ultimatum.

State Senate Pro Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) appeared indifferent to Grady’s future two months before the governing board’s most recent vote.

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it did go under,” he said at the Capitol in September. “Maybe the phoenix that would rise in its place would be better than the hospital that’s there now.”

Grady advocates argue those at the State level should be taken to task for scolding Grady management for not having enough money when the State previously cut Grady’s crucial funding.

“We have a Governor that doesn’t understand that all Georgians need healthcare,” Derrick Boazman, former Atlanta City Councilman and activist, said. “We appeal to the Governor that poor people are Georgians too. They should get the same healthcare [the Governor] does.”

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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