addition to charity care provided by Emory Healthcare
through Emory’s own facilities, Emory physicians provide a substantial
amount of charity care at Grady Hospital, where Emory and Morehouse
medical school faculty provide 85% and 15% of care, respectively.
The uncompensated care provided by Emory at Grady totaled $22 million
in fiscal year 2004 alone.
When Emory physicians do receive reimbursement
for services to those Grady patients who have coverage, these funds
are invested back into Grady via the Emory Medical Care Foundation,
which was established by Emory physicians to disburse income for support
of Emory’s mission at Grady. These funds, which totaled $39.2
million in 2004, are used for a variety of purposes, ranging from
building new facilities and buying equipment and beds to research
and salary support for vital patient services or providers.
Despite the fact that Grady cares for
some 100,000 indigent patients, it is able to provide extraordinary
services, many of them offered statewide, many recognized nationally.
The programs noted here, all established and headed by Emory doctors,
reflect the long-standing partnership between Emory and Grady.
Diabetes care: Keeping track of an arduous diet and
medication regimen, remembering to pay attention to foot care and
other potential complications, and handling all the other complexities
of being diabetic are challenging enough for anyone, but particularly
so for much of the patient population seen at Grady. The Diabetes
Clinic at Grady was founded in the early 1970s by Emory doctors who
pioneered a team approach to care as well as culturally oriented dietary
management. The clinic follows more than 4,000 patients every year,
including the largest patient base of African Americans with diabetes
of any clinic in the nation. Emory doctors recently developed one
of the largest computerized databases of its kind to track patients’
diabetes care. The clinic also is active in training health professionals
from all over Georgia in diabetes care.
Sickle cell disease: Imagine your red blood cells
suddenly curving in on themselves, becoming entangled, unable to flow
smoothly through vessels, causing excruciating pain, slowing the transport
of oxygen. That’s what happens in a sickle cell crisis, mainly
affecting people of African descent, and it’s the reason the
Sickle Cell Center at Grady opened the world’s first and only
dedicated 24-hour acute care treatment clinic. The center has the
largest combined adult and pediatric sickle cell clinic in the world,
actively following more than 1,300 patients. Before medical advances
in recent years, sickle cell patients often died young. Now the center
treats their disease and also helps them prepare for a long and productive
life. The center has one of the first state-certified vocational rehabilitation
training sites within a Georgia hospital, providing job training,
education, and basic computer skills to sickle cell patients.
Lupus: In 2003, Emory rheumatologists developed the
state’s first and only clinic dedicated to systemic lupus erythematosus,
in which the immune system suddenly attacks the body, causing achy
joints, prolonged fever and fatigue, mouth ulcers, and steady erosion
of heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. The disease primarily
strikes women of childbearing age, and a disproportionate number are
African Americans and Hispanics. Since establishing the clinic, Emory
rheumatologists have seen 350 patients and now lead a CDC-sponsored
Georgia Lupus Registry, working in partnership with the Georgia Department
of Human Resources, physicians across the state, and patient advocacy
groups such as the Georgia chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.
HIV: AIDS has changed a lot since 1986, when Emory’s
Infectious Disease Program opened its first AIDS clinic at Grady with
10 patients. Today, close to 5,000 people (including 300-plus children)
of all colors and ethnicities and from all walks of life—about
half of all HIV/AIDS patients in Atlanta—receive care at the
freestanding Ponce de Leon Center, a 90,000-square-foot facility that
is home to one of the nation’s most comprehensive AIDS care
programs. The center provides extensive outpatient medical, dental,
and counseling services without regard to ability to pay. The Ponce
Center also is deeply involved in prevention and research, including
clinical trials unavailable elsewhere in the region.
Emergency care: The safety net of safety nets, Emory’s
emergency medicine physicians and surgeons are best known for providing
trauma care at Grady, in the largest and busiest level I trauma center
in Georgia. Emory emergency medicine doctors also established and
manage acute care transports through Emory Flight, extending the reach
of care to other Georgians for whom resources like the trauma center,
burn center, and poison control center mean the difference between
life and death.
These doctors also go beyond what they
call “resurrection medicine” (saving those near death).
They take steps to prevent the horrors they see every day: child neglect
and abuse, firearm violence, head injuries, and other trauma from
car and bicycle accidents, to name a few. They talk at churches, synagogues,
and community events. They volunteer in programs for the homeless.
They seek funding and collaborate with the city and schools to develop
awareness and risk-reduction programs. And they go to the Capitol,
testifying in sessions or cornering legislators to explain why these
problems matter and what can be done about them.
Emory and the Atlanta VA
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