Fulton County approves $11M payment to Grady Hospital ahead of AMC closure

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 8:05 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 11:21 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - – The Fulton County Board of Commissioners Wednesday approved a special one-time infusion of cash to Grady Memorial Hospital ahead of the impending closure of the nearby Atlanta Medical Center.

The $11 million, which commissioners had already approved to cover unexpected labor costs at Grady, will be transferred from the county to Grady immediately, commissioners said.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Atlanta Medical Center closing in downtown Atlanta | What does it mean?

“Today we had an opportunity to further reinforce our commitment to Grady and ensuring the stability of Grady, particularly in light of these recent announcements,” said Bob Ellis, Fulton County Commissioner, in an interview with CBS46 on Wednesday. “We had enough funds on hand.”

Originally, the county had planned to give Grady the $11 million after the Federal Emergency Management Agency had reimbursed the county, but the impending closure of AMC prompted a change of plans, officials said.

On Wednesday, in an email to CBS46 News, Grady administrators applauded the county’s investment:

The Fulton Board of Commissioners voted earlier this summer to approve $11 million for unexpected Q1 staffing costs contingent upon FEMA reimbursement to the county. Grady is grateful for the Fulton Board of Commissioners’ decision to release these funds now, before FEMA reimbursement, in light of Atlanta Medical Center’s impending closure and our need to deploy resources.

One week ago, Wellstar announced it is closing the Atlanta Medical Center, effective November 1.

Grady’s leadership immediately released a statement condemning the decision and the impact it’ll have on Grady’s ability to tend to the growing healthcare needs in Atlanta.

“Grady is really the only true safety net in Georgia, and it runs over capacity daily, and this decision by Wellstar to abandon the community will further strain our operations, particularly our emergency room, as more patients will present with medical needs,” a Grady spokesperson said in a statement last week.

A spokesperson for DeKalb County said it, too, is “in talks with” Grady about similar action from DeKalb County.

Grady Hospital is co-owned by Fulton and DeKalb counties.

According to officials, Fulton County already allocated $63 million to Grady for 2022 operation costs, roughly $44 million of which is to help with indigent care.

After approving the $11 million advance payment to Grady Wednesday, Fulton County commissioners got some bad news of their own. County finance officials said the county is expected to come up short in its 2023 budget by $103 million.

In a statement sent to CBS46 News at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman wrote, “Commissioners may have to cut as much as 10 percent of the 2023 overall budget to avoid having an unlawful deficit. Grady Hospital normally depends on as much as $50 to $80 million each year from the County Commission to keep its doors open. In fact, the Commission had just made an emergency allocation of $11 million before taking the 2023 budget discussion.”

“This is why I voted not to lower the millage rate,” she wrote.