DeKalb County Approves $5 Million for Grady Hospital

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(APN) ATLANTA — The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday, October 09, 2007, a package of resolutions concerning the Grady Health System, including $5 million in emergency funding.

This resolution calls for at least $1 million to be provided within 60 days of the approval of the resolution.

“Five million dollars is a token amount, but it says DeKalb is doing its part,” Commissioner Kathie Gannon (District 6) said.

Previously, the Grady Hospital governing board approved August 21, 2007, a $125 million plan to fiscally stabilize the troubled Grady Health System and to prevent its closure. It included a $100 million loan backed by Fulton and/or DeKalb Counties, and $20 million from Fulton and/or DeKalb Counties. Fulton County approved $15 million on September 05, 2007.

Commissioners also approved resolutions calling for a proportionate reimbursement program that would require all counties to pays funds to Grady on a proportionate, per patient basis for indigent care; and calling on the Georgia General Assembly to provide state money for the hospital generally.

“We just made some very important strides forward,” Commissioner Lee May (District 5) said of the Commission votes. The Board of Commissioners voted twice previously to delay voting on any Grady resolutions before them until all members had time to properly understand each resolution.

“We had to do this right,” Commissioner Larry Johnson (District 3) said of the delay. Johnson worked with Commissioner Connie Stokes (District 7) to put together these resolutions.

“We need to do more for Grady,” Johnson said, referring to everyone in Georgia, not just DeKalb County. “We need that safety net.”

Another resolution calls for the Georgia General Assembly to enact legislation creating a regional hospital authority that would include members who contribute funding to Grady on an annual basis.

This is different from the private, nonprofit governing model several parties have suggested that critics say could take away the public’s ability to hold the Grady system accountable for how it spends money and runs the hospital.

The Board also called on the Georgia General Assembly to take over control and funding of the trauma center, poison control center, the burn unit, and all neonatal and dialysis services.

“It’s important for the leaders of the [Georgia] General Assembly to take significant steps [to save Grady],” Commissioner Burrell Ellis (District 4) said.

Members also want the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority to ensure neighborhood clinics remain operational and convert those to Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) Centers so that clinics can serve as urgent care centers, possibly taking some burden off of the Grady Hospital emergency room.

“This is not an issue that is going away,” Gannon said. “We’re looking at the Hospital Authority to come forward with their plan.”

Commissioners deferred on only one resolution, which calls for a reexamination of the relationship between Grady and the medical schools of Emory University and Morehouse College, both of which provide medical staff to the hospital.

That resolution calls for possibly reducing the payments made by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority to those schools “to reflect the in-kind benefits those institutions receive by using Grady Hospital as a training ground for their medical students,” according to the language of the resolution.

The Board said it needed more time while Members receive more information about this relationship. It is unclear if the language of the resolution will change or how in the next two weeks.

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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