Grady Hospital Activists Deliver Petitions to State Leaders

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(APN) ATLANTA — About 50 members of the Grady Coalition delivered 10,000 signed petitions to the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, January 15, 2008, urging State leaders to provide more funding for the Grady Health System.

“The central issue is making sure Grady gets the resources it needs as a regional hospital,” State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said during a press conference held before delivery of the petitions.

The Georgia General Assembly reconvened this week and so far, several lawmakers have proposed imposing a variety of fees to fund a statewide trauma care network.

Sen. Fort said in addition to funding a statewide trauma care network, the General Assembly could consider many bills concerning Grady.

One bill, SR 722, introduced on January 17, 2008, by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) would create a state-level Grady committee to oversee issues like funding, contract, and structure. It has 30 bipartisan cosponsors.

Another bill by Shafer, SB 353, would ban vendors and others with financial ties to Grady from leading it.

The Grady Coalition is hoping the large volume of petitions will signal to lawmakers the desire of Georgians to see state funding for Grady.

“We have heard rumors they [State leaders] want to do the right thing,” Rev. Timothy McDonald, of the First Iconium Baptist Church, said. “We hope and pray all these elected officials will support [Dr. Martin Luther King’s] name…by passing legislation that supports Grady.”

After the press conference, the Grady Coalition marched into the Capitol to deliver the petitions. Members visited Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office first.

“Grady is not just a place for people to get healed, it’s a place to transform,” Hul-yah Yis-rael, a Grady patient, told Bert Brantley, Gov. Perdue’s press secretary.

Gov. Perdue has proposed imposing additional fines on “super speeders,” or drivers who are caught driving well above the speed limit, to help fund a trauma network.

From there, it was on to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office.

“Grady is the people’s hospital,” Chioke Perry, another Grady patient, said. “We need State support for the people’s hospital.”

Lt. Gov. Cagle has also expressed support for funding a statewide trauma network with State dollars but has not offered specifics on how to do so.

The final stop was the office of Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, who spoke Tuesday morning in the House of his determination to secure funding for a trauma care network.

Richardson proposed several weeks ago imposing a $10 annual fee on all vehicle registrations to support the network.

The speaker now appears more flexible on the funding issue when he said Tuesday he does not care how the funding occurs, just as long as it occurs, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog.

State Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) has proposed a different kind of fee: a one dollar per month fee on all cell phones and land lines.

Geisinger’s proposal, which has not been introduced and does not have a bill number, also includes a 10 percent tax to all disposable cell phones and a 10 percent tax on all minutes purchased on those phones.

Sen. Fort said there could be a bill that would impose a half cent sales tax to fund Grady but he is unsure who would introduce such a bill or when.

About the author:

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

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