Atlanta

Grady CEO says more funding is needed to treat the uninsured

ATLANTA — With just 35 days until Atlanta Medical Center closes its doors, Grady Health’s CEO is asking for more help.

Grady will be Metro Atlanta’s only remaining level one trauma center. It recently received $130 million in funding from the state, but Grady’s CEO said they will need more money.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

The clock is ticking as Grady prepares to absorb what is expected to be anywhere from 50 to 70% of patients from AMC. Gov. Brian Kemp announced $130 million in funding, money that will go toward creating 185 more beds. But Grady President and CEO John Haupert said that’s only part of the puzzle.

“We then have to be also focused on how we operate them and the cost to operate them. For example, those beds alone, the nursing cost alone could be $50 to 80 million,” said Haupert.

Grady is now looking to Dekalb and Fulton counties, who fund care for the uninsured at Grady. With AMC closing, the counties provided an additional $22 million in funding this year.

TRENDING STORIES:

“We need significantly more than that $22 million to make sure we can properly staff and fund and operate those beds,” said Haupert.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said he understands the urgency. “Grady always needs money,” said Pitts, who says his staff is working weekly with Grady.

Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond sent a statement, saying in part:

Negotiations are ongoing as DeKalb County seeks to strengthen the partnership with Grady Hospital and ensure that access to quality health care is available to all who need it.”

But while Grady continues to nail down a larger long-term commitment to help treat the uninsured, Fulton County’s chairman has his eye on another solution.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“We have a study underway now, a million dollars we are spending for a new jail,” said Pitts. “From my point of view, I would rather spend that $500-600 million on a new medical facility in south Fulton county for law-abiding citizens.”

Haupert said Grady has already hired three of the trauma surgeons from AMC. They’re facing the nationwide staffing shortage, which is making it more expensive to bring in the needed staff.

IN OTHER NEWS: