By David Pendered
Grady’s healthcare system faces a precarious future again, although it hit milestones last week with its state-of-the-art surgical center and new funding for a center specializing in the treatment of HIV / AIDS.
Grady’s two-year funding contracts with Fulton and DeKalb counties expire at the end of this year, Tim Jefferson, general counsel for Grady, told Fulton County commissioners at their Nov. 3 meeting.
Grady has been operating on a series of two-year agreements since 2013. The agreements provide that Grady will provide health care to indigent residents of both counties. The previous 30-year contract was signed in 1984 and expired in 2013. Since then, service agreements have been two-year extensions of the 1984 contract.
Jefferson said Grady and the counties were close to starting negotiations for a two-year deal and then a longer-term deal.
“We will be working with county staff and county attorneys to develop another extension to this.  agreement, while at the same time we hope to be able to begin the process of negotiating a long-term agreement, ”Jefferson said. “At this point, we just need to set up an extension. “
Jefferson told commissioners his comments were meant to be informative and did not require a response.
Milestones include the closing night last week for the Center for Advanced Surgical Services. The establishment is named Correll Pavilion, after AD “Pete” Correll, the former CEO of Georgia Pacific who died this year after leading a civic effort to restructure Grady’s finances, management and reputation. His wife, two children and granddaughter signed the last steel beam to be placed. The cost of the installation was $ 231.9 million, according to Grady’s presentation to the Commissioners.
The other big step is final funding for the Grady Ponce Center infectious disease program, worth $ 35 million. The center is one of the largest providers of HIV / AIDS services in the country, said Jefferson.
The center treats more than 6,000 men, women and children annually, according to Grady’s presentation. About 80 percent of patients are residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties, which Grady says have the highest HIV prevalence in the state and one of the highest in the country.
Fulton commissioners voted unanimously on Nov. 3 to provide $ 8 million in bond financing for the renovation. The DeKalb County Council of Commissioners previously voted to provide its share of the funding, $ 4 million, in cash from the general fund.
HIV / AIDS opened in a building purchased by Grady in 1991. The building was not modernized until patient services began in the facility.
HIV / AIDS was still a crisis in 1991. It was the start of AIDS Walk Atlanta, still a rite of passage in Atlanta. Basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has announced he is HIV positive. Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury died of AIDS pneumonia and kept his diagnosis hidden from the public until the day before his death.
Grady intended to start the clinic renovation project a few years ago but had to wait for state approval. The state granted a certificate of need for the center and Grady began the renovation in October 2020, Jefferson said. The project is 25% complete, he said.