South Dekalb Clinic to Stay Open

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The Grady South DeKalb Health Center, one of the health system’s neighborhood clinics, will remain open and there will be an increased focus on marketing the clinic, officials said recently.

A story from Crossroads News dated Aug. 14 has this:

Matt Gove, the health system’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, said this week that the 60-day pull-back from the closing decision, announced in May, is now permanent following discussions with community leaders and the DeKalb Board of Commissioners.

“We decided based on those discussions to continue operating the South DeKalb Neighborhood Center,” he said. “There is no plan for changes at this point.”

Gove said they are now working on a marketing plan specific for South DeKalb.

He did not elaborate on what that plan would be or when it would be implemented.

Grady Health System CEO Michael Young announced July 1 that, as part of a series of steps to save the cash-strapped system some annual revenue, Grady would close three neighborhood clinics, including South DeKalb.

After the community raised concerns, along with DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, Grady decided to put the plan on hold for 60 days.

South DeKalb, located in donated space at the rear of the Kroger in the Rainbow Way Shopping Center, has been operational since 1996.

From Crossroads News:

With only 3,800 square feet, it is the second smallest of Grady’s nine neighborhood centers. Young had wanted to merge it into the larger East Atlanta center on Warren Street. Gove said because of its size, the South DeKalb Center has a smaller patient base and no space to offer x-rays or a pharmacy.

“The initial thinking was trying to have patients visit centers that provide a full range of services,” he said.

But the idea did not sit well with members of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners who voted in January to increase the county’s funding of Grady to $23 million. The payment, which is being disbursed in monthly payments of about $1.4 million, is intended to support the neighborhood health centers that Grady operates across the county.

For the first seven months of this year, Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said the South DeKalb health center has had 4,359 patient visits, about 545 to 688 visits monthly.

In contrast, the larger Grady Lindbergh Women and Children Health Center on Buford Highway had 7,355 visits; the Warren Street Center had 16,772 visits; and North DeKalb Health Center had 13,269. In 2008, South DeKalb Center had 8,800 patient visits.

Gove said Grady’s busiest neighborhood health centers see 130 patients a day.

“Neighborhood centers are important to us,” he said. “They can be an avenue to reach new patients. We were looking at how to grow business.”

To expand services in South DeKalb, Gove said they will have to relocate from the Kroger.

“Rather than move out and have no presence in South DeKalb, we decided to continue there while we examine options,” he said.

Gove told Crossroads News that officials are working on securing donations to support the neighborhood clinics as part of the $325 million Greater Grady capital campaign.

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