Dr. Sullivan says Atlanta at crossroads of public health

Atlanta could be the nexus for a new approach to healthcare — promoting wellness instead of just treating illnesses.

That’s what Dr. Louis Sullivan said during his keynote talk Thursday evening at the 2009 Healthcare Heroes Awards Celebration put on the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Sullivan is a former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former president of the Morehouse School of Medicine. Currently he is chairman of the National Health Museum, which is planning to build an attraction on a site around Centennial Olympic Park.

Through education and communication, Sullivan believes that Atlanta “can help usher in this transformative period of wellness.”

Atlanta is perfectly positioned to become the “crossroads of global health,” Sullivan said.

It already is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Carter Center, CARE, the American Cancer Society, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, Georgia Tech, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Cancer Coalition, Childrens Healthcare, Grady Hospital and numerous health-oriented companies.

Sullivan believes that with these entities, Atlanta can help lead the global transformation of the healthcare system while letting the world better understand what this region has to offer.

But metro Atlanta also has to face “extraordinary challenges” of healthcare disparities in our community. As Sullivan said, Atlanta is a tale of two cities. “The National Health Museum wants to help close this gap,” he said.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, former CDC director, validated Sullivan’s comments by repeating that Atlanta indeed is a tale of two cities. “There is the best of health, but also the worst of health,” she said.

Gerberding received “Lifetime Achievement” Aware at the celebration held at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead.

“I want to admit that I’m only 53, and my lifetime isn’t over yet,” Gerberding said. “There’s still so much to do…. I hope to have another 40 to 50 years to work on that.”

The leaders who helped restructure the governance of Grady Hospital received a special award for helping save the institution that traditionally has served the poorest in our community. Those leaders have been busy raising private funds to help improve the hospital.

Retired Georgia-Pacific CEO Pete Correll spoke for the group saying: “This has been a true Atlanta miracle.”

And then, speaking of his partner-in-crime, Cousins Properties’ CEO Tom Bell, Correll told the dinner guests: “Tom and I will be coming to see you about money.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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