Grady Hospital Gets Less Trauma Money than Expected

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(APN) ATLANTA — The Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission released its final report Monday, June 09, 2008, on allocating $58.9 million from the State of Georgia for the State’s network of 15 trauma care hospitals.

Grady Memorial Hospital, north Georgia’s only Level I trauma center, will receive $12.7 million, 26.6 percent of the $58.9 million total and far more than any other hospital, however, still well short of the $20 to $30 million figure Grady officials had projected.

“It’s disappointing when they only got half that,” State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), Co-chair of the Grady Coalition who had urged officials to provide at least double the final $12.7 million figure, said on June 09.

Many State lawmakers had been urging Grady Hospital to undergo privatization, implying that their support would follow. It is unclear what benefit from the State, if any, Grady Hospital has received from privatizing.

The nine-member commission, formed two years ago by State legislation, began meeting late in 2007 and worked for months on devising a formula that would fairly distribute the money.

The Commission’s final complex formula factored in the volume of patients at each trauma center, the severity of injuries, the cost of treating uninsured patients who cannot pay their bills, and the cost to keep hospitals prepared for delivering trauma care.

In addition to allocating a portion for the trauma centers, the Commission provided the rest to numerous doctors and EMS firms who specialize in treating traumatic injuries.

Commission Chair Dr. Dennis Ashley, who also serves as the trauma chief at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, praised his fellow Committee Members’ “spirit of compromise” and “ability to work together.”

“This one-time infusion at least stabilized or saved what little system we have,” Ashley said of the still-fragile state trauma network.

Trauma Care Network Commission Members and others around the state believe the $58 million will only serve as a stopgap until State lawmakers take definitive action.

Due to political infighting, the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass legislation this year that would have pumped as much as $74 million annually into the State’s Trauma Care Network.

Lawmakers did amend the Fiscal Year 2008 budget to include a one-time payment of $58.9 million. Because that money was appropriated for 2008, the Commission had to determine how to divide the payment no later than June 30 or risk losing the money.

“What we’ve done today means nothing unless legislators act,” Ashley said. “The only way to save the system is with sustainable funding.”

“It’ll help us really jump-start the rest of our system,” Dr. Leon Haley, Chief of Emergency Medicine for Grady Hospital and Commission Member, said. “[But] we really need to develop a better system for all our citizens.”

“We really need legislators to go back next winter and fund the system,” Haley added. “We’ve got to fund this system for a long-term basis.”

About the author:

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

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