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New Grady Hospital Board Holds First Meeting, Names Officers

(APN) ATLANTA -- The Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation (GMHC) met for the first time Monday to name officers and vote on other important matters.

Atlanta Progressive News asked Chairman of the new Board, Pete Correll, after the meeting, if he believes the new Board could pull Grady Hospital out of its financial tailspin without cutting any existing services.

"I would just be silly to make a guarantee like that," he answered. "That is our objective. This Board is going to fight like heck."

Correll is the Chairman Emeritus of the Georgia Pacific Corporation.

The meeting of the 17 member 501(c)(3) comes three days after the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority (FDHA) cemented the membership of the new Board.

Lewis Horne, special counsel to the FDHA who incorporated the GMHC, called the meeting to order and requested a motion for candidates for Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary.

Michael Russell, CEO of construction and real estate firm H.J. Russell & Co., moved that Pete Correll, State Rep. Pam Stephenson, and Robert Miller fill those spots. The Board approved the names unanimously.

State Rep. Stephenson is now CEO of Grady, the FDHA Chair, and the GMHC Vice Chair. Some have complained Stephenson has a conflict of interest serving in multiple positions at the same time.

A search for a new CEO is not underway and Stephenson will continue serving in that position at least until the execution of the lease, Correll said.

"This is a big, hard job," Correll said of the CEO position. "I think with proper funding, with this kind of commitment, we can attract a very qualified individual."

Once the Board named its new officers, Correll took the reigns and moved quickly.

The GMHC approved the lease and transfer agreement, which provides for the shift of power from the FDHA to the new Board, as well as the funding agreement.

Correll said approving these agreements gives he and FDHA Chairwoman Stephenson the authority to sign the lease.

But no one could sign the lease until all the conditions of the funding agreement are met, he noted.

These conditions include: the delivery of $50 million into escrow; a written guarantee from the philanthropic community to provide $150 million in capital improvements over three years; a written guarantee from the philanthropic community to raise an additional $100 million over three years; and securing commitments from Emory University and Morehouse College Schools of Medicine to renegotiate existing contracts with Grady Hospital.

Earlier drafts of the funding agreement called on the State of Georgia to provide a written commitment of its intent to provide an additional $30 million annually to Grady, but that no longer appears to be one of the conditions.

Several State leaders have allegedly verbally pledged to provide Grady more money upon the transfer to a nonprofit management structure.

Correll said he hopes a check for $50 million can be presented to the GMHC during some kind of ceremony in the next week but he would not disclose the name of the anonymous donor.

While Correll said he expects all of the conditions in the funding agreement to be met in the next week, he estimated the lease would not take effect until between May 1, 2008, and September 1, 2008, although he that could change.

In addition to approving articles of incorporation, bylaws, and a corporate seal, the GMHC also approved an authorization that would allow Correll to apply for recognition of tax-exempt status from the US Internal Revenue Service.

Correll told media after the meeting that he was not sure when he would apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status.

According to Correll, the GMHC has three missions: to run the hospital in a responsible way, which includes continuing Grady's historic mission of serving the indigent and uninsured; managing the hospital; and raising a lot of new money.

Correll's statement to The Los Angles Times newspaper on November 26, 2007, concerning service cuts has many in Atlanta worried.

During an interview with The Times, Correll said while any Board "would be hesitant to cut services in order to survive," it had to confront the question "How do we decide what is a reasonable level of health?"

Some advocates argue privatizing the management of a public hospital leads to an eminent failure.

"This one's going to be different," Correll argued. "Atlanta has no alternative but to save Grady."

The GMHC will meet again April 7, 2008, to name Committee Chairs and discuss other business. The meeting will last from 2 to 5 pm, but the location is unknown at this time.

Atlanta Progressive News will run a feature in the coming days detailing each of the 17 members of the GMHC, noting possible conflicts of interest any Member might have.

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Revised syndication policy:

Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html


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