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Grady Memorial Hospital bed supply to remain at half strength; 76 ventilators available

By David Pendered

Grady Memorial Hospital will have barely half of its beds available for patients even after up to 52 beds are opened with proceeds of a $2.1 grant from the Marcus Foundation, state records show.

Grady Memorial Hospital

Grady Memorial Hospital is to have up to 504 beds available after a donation from the Marcus Foundation pays to establish up to 52 addtional beds. Credit: David Pendered

Grady has a capacity of 953 beds and has been functioning with 482 beds since Dec. 7, 2019. That’s when a water main ruptured and the ensuing damage forced the closure of 220 beds, out of the 702 beds that had been available to serve patients.

Grady had 76 ventilator machines available as of Dec. 31, 2019. The machines are described in the state report as computerized/mechanical ventilator machines. These are the machines used to treat the worst cases of COVID-19.

The hospital is to have 534 beds available if the donation from Marcus is able to open 52 beds. The number of planned, additional beds is cited in a statement issued by the Grady Foundation, a non-profit entity that raises donations for the health system.

The issue of Grady’s capacity to provide doctors, nurses and other personnel to serve patients in the additional beds is not addressed in the statement.

Until the water main ruptured, Grady had offered 702 beds for in-patient care in 2018, according to Grady’s self-reported data to the state Department of Community Health.

This is the number of beds that are set up with the medical equipment needed to provide care, and staffed with the medical personnel to serve patients.

The Marcus Foundation has donated more than $50 million to the Grady Health System since 2009, including funds used to expand the emergency center. Credit: David Pendered

Of the 482 beds that remained set up and staffed after the water main ruptured, a varying number are reserved for patients with specific needs. Categories of care range from intensive care to burn treatment, from maternal needs to routine medical and surgical needs, as well as psychiatric issues that require in-hospital treatment. No critical care beds were closed after the water main ruptured, according to Grady.

Grady underwent a renovation in the 1990s that Grady reports resulted in a bed capacity of 953.

It’s common for hospitals to forego the cost of maintaining all beds in a status of “set up and staffed” in order to manage resources.

For example, Piedmont Hospital, in Buckhead, says it is a 643-bed facility. Piedmont maintained 481 beds as set up and staffed, according to its report to the state for 2018. The ratio shows Piedmont kept 75 percent of its beds in a status of set up and staffed.

Piedmont reported having 56 computerized/mechanical ventilators available on Dec. 31, 2019, state records show.

Grady’s medical staff is comprised overwhelmingly of medical faculty who are affiliated with the medical schools at Emory or Morehouse; residents who work under the supervision of the teaching doctors; and registered nurses.

A total of 1,1789 physicians have admitting privileges at Grady, state records show. A total of 1,498 registered nursing positions, or fulltime equivalents, are in the budget; 1,937 other health service professionals are in fulltime equivalent budgeted positions.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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