And then — on a quiet Sunday morning not even a block away from the federal penitentiary — I tell everyone within earshot the worst has happened. There has been a jailbreak. I repeat, there has been a jailbreak. For a few seconds nothing happens. No stampede. No sign at all that anyone has heard us. And then, across the street, a door opens. A skinny little hipster bolts out onto his porch. He darts down the steps and stomps barefoot across the street.
We pretend not to see him even as we watch him march over. My partner nods, turns off the PA. This should be fun. No hello, no nothing. My partner, God bless him, smiles through the glass. My partner reaches up and presses the window button, slowly lowering the window with a loud, rubbery squuuueeee- aaaaakkkk. He smiles. The guy rails on for five minutes, mostly about us waking him up at 8 on a Sunday morning but with a heavy emphasis on the fact that people live here. He opens his mouth, then stops.
Grady Baby: A Year in the Life of Atlanta's Grady Hospital by Jerry Gentry
We flick on the lights and head over, and almost immediately, we forget about the hipster, the PA, even the jailbreak. But the hipster remembers us. The supervisor gets out and walks over. He asks if we had an argument with a resident. I nod. Over a PA system. A block from the federal penitentiary. This was probably a bad idea. The supervisor pulls his keys from his pocket. We need to talk.
While we were out running that last call, the hipster went crazy and called every number he could find, all the way up to the CEO of the hospital. The supervisor shrugs. The director of EMS operations is silent. I clear my throat. My partner, he was there, but I said it. She nods, which, when you think about it, could mean a lot of things. She closes her eyes, and we settle into an awkward silence. Then, almost imperceptibly, the bottom corner of her mouth twitches.
At last she laughs. I laugh.
She cocks her head. I shut up. A deep breath in, a long exhale, and then —. So this is how I make my mark, the way people finally learn my name. Not because I ran a tough call and did a commendable job but because I did something stupid. Something funny. Printed by permission. Suzanne Van Atten Personal Journeys editor personaljourneys ajc. He lives with his family in Hermosa Beach, California. Margaret Mitchell House, Crescent Ave.
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Grady Baby: A Year in the Life of Atlantaâ??s Grady Hospital
Create a new password We've sent an email with instructions to create a new password. Resend Email Verification. Whoa there! Looks like you're already verified. He entered Grady in hemorrhagic shock and experienced numerous setbacks along the way to healing. Each day, a different attending surgeon with a staff and team of residents will be responsible for patients in the trauma bay.
It's one total system between Emory, Grady, and Morehouse. Everybody does his or her part to make the whole system work. The patients here either came to the operating room or the intensive care unit for injuries that needed a higher level of monitoring, intervention, and care. We try to get patients to a point where they are safe to be transitioned to another level of care at a different facility without causing additional harm.
The gunshot victim had multiple injuries and complications related to the bleeding, the fractures, and the blood-thinning medication. He's been adequately resuscitated and will now head to orthopedic surgery once he's stable. He'll be set to resume a normal life, and that's the most important thing.
Including ancillary staff, maybe 40 or 50 people are working in concert. It all goes to care for that one patient. When you're talking about a level-one trauma center, this is the level required to get people through the system safely. Several floors above the ER, specialized centers have been added not only to provide care for the poor, but also to attract patients with private insurance.
Frankel says the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center , filled with 18 ICU rooms and state-of-the-art technology, has become a regional leader since opening in We created the Stroke Center at a time when we saw an aging population and a huge demand in an evolving field. It's a field that will evolve the same way that interventional cardiology evolved 20 or 30 years ago. The angiogram suite differentiates Grady from other hospitals. It allows you to look at things in three dimensions and allows the endovascular surgeon to approach the brain from inside the artery and fix aneurysms or blocked arteries that cause a stroke.
Those arteries can be opened up just like you open up a coronary artery to keep the heart from dying. Here, you open up a brain artery to minimize the injury and hopefully eliminate paralysis or difficulty with speaking. It all happens very fast. We're talking about minutes. I think the emotional baggage that comes with neurological disease is very heavy, and it cuts across socioeconomics. If that's a poor person with no resources, they cause tremendous problems. For those who are insured or employed, when they are disabled from neurological disease, it's devastating.
We can have the richest person in Atlanta in one bed and the next room can have the poorest person. We'll take care of them the same way. We're including everyone and elevating the care at the same time. The Stroke Center stands among the niche clinics that make Grady a destination hospital. While some administrators think such resources could be the key to Grady's survival, others aren't as convinced. When chief hospital psychologist Dr. Nadine Kaslow came on board in , she wanted to work in a health care system invested in caring for people with chronic mental illnesses.
She remains committed to Grady, but has concerns about its direction amid recent cuts. I actually think that there's been so much increased attention to numbers and to following the rules that sometimes just really putting the patients first has gotten lost in the shuffle. For example, our patients don't really have money to pay these prescription co-pays.
Patients used to get their prescriptions here for free.
I have a lot of patients now that simply don't take their medicine because they can't figure out how to pay for it. We are spending a lot of time doing other things and not as much time as we need to with our patients. Grady just closed its Child Mental Health Services in I don't personally believe that we have adequate mental-health services, outpatient mental-health services, for children in our community, so I think it's a serious loss.
Mike Lunney worked as a Grady paramedic from to While he provided care to the very sick and severely wounded, he also tended to uninsured patients who have no choice but to visit the ER for low-acuity ailments such as fevers, colds, and minor headaches. Grady provides for everyone, and that has its drawbacks. Caring for such a diverse swath of the population puts a huge burden on an already overloaded ER. At times, EMS even becomes a free transportation service for those who can't afford the bus or MARTA, occupying paramedics who could otherwise be focused on saving lives.
Grady's patient base is a really interesting cross-section of American life. A good call for me is a bad day for someone else. We yearn for the opportunity to use the skills that have the potential to make all the difference, but you also have lots of low-acuity patients and calls that didn't require lights and sirens. Taking people to the ER to get a medication Although the chance to save someone's life is a large reason why EMTs do their job, more often than not, they are operating as a non-emergency transportation service to the disadvantaged and underserved. Someone could say, "My back hurts.
I'm not going to be able to tell you a whole lot. I can take you to the hospital. I can't tell you this isn't going to cost you money and I can't tell you it's going to be worth your time. I can give you all that information and let you make a decision on your own. We can't deny them service. So even if it's a splinter in their finger or a baby that won't stop crying, it's like, "Get in the ambulance and let's go to the hospital. Last December, George Chidi's mother, Jeanne, felt a sharp pain in her lower abdomen, along with some pelvic discomfort.
George, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution health care reporter, took her to Grady's walk-in clinic because she was uninsured after recently being laid off. They spent five hours in the facility that usually refills prescriptions and treats minor ailments before doctors sent Jeanne to the emergency room. George started live-blogging in the understaffed and overcrowded emergency room , which treated people that night.
The Chidis spent a total of 28 hours at Grady. I began to hear other people talking about how long they had been waiting: eight hours, 10 hours. That can't be right. I knew what the averages were because of my prior reporting experience. We were starting to see the dysfunction pile up. They were running out of chairs.
It was scary and it felt dangerous. It felt like we were in a homeless shelter, not a hospital. I felt like I was at a bus station. People would pee on the floor, it really wouldn't get cleaned up and they'd throw like an oversize maxi pad on it. There had been a triage process, but people were just sitting there in pain and misery. We thought Jeanne's condition might have been an ovarian cyst or cancer — something deadly.
A serious diagnosis would have meant death because of her financial condition. My mother turned to me at in the morning and said, "I'm not ready to die yet. It wasn't perfect. The care was acceptable, if not good. A diabetes diagnosis — you could probably be a little hands-off. I really was steamed. I try to understand it in hindsight. I don't know how extraordinary that experience was. I don't know In the early morning hours of their ordeal, George met a dapper senior administrator, who "looked like he was wearing a thousand-dollar suit.
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Patients don't choose the time of their heart attacks or their strokes. So we have to be prepared at 2 p. I understand what patients go through. I understand that as an administrator, I know what it's like to care of patients. I purposefully work evenings, nights, and days depending on the nature of the shift. It gives me a sense of what patients have to manage on a regular basis. Hopefully, as we make decisions as a health system, we have a better sense of what the patient has to go through so you can be more patient-centered in your decision-making.
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Five years ago, I honestly think the reputation of this place was pretty poor from the community perspective. People just had sort of a negative vibe about it, but that's been a huge change. The Grady experience surprised Sheila Sandas, an uninsured homeless woman who spent 11 hours in the ER in February after experiencing a headache and briefly losing consciousness.
The middle-aged North Carolina native has a history of aneurysms. My preconceived thoughts about Grady: city hospital, long waits, and a whole bunch of people. Honestly, I would've gone to another hospital before I came here, but I'm living at a women's shelter with no insurance. I was actually very shocked. They were prompt, right on top of getting things done, explaining everything to me. Communication was there, and I liked that. Haupert is striving for experiences like Sandas' to be the rule, not the exception. The safety-net hospital struggles in its effort to be all things to all people, but Grady's CEO says he's confident that the hospital will continue to improve patient service.
Only time will tell. Years ago, the model in public health care was, those who had money and were insured went to private health care. Those who didn't have money went to public health care and what you paid with was your time. We're starting to see that happen. We're not quite there. Most of public health care isn't there. There's no reason why we can't have better patient care. In part three of this series , CL looks at how Grady's future hangs in the balance of crucial policy decisions at the federal, state, and county levels.
Jamie Hood, an Athens man who faced charges for killing two police officers, was found guilty in the death penalty trial. Hood had made the rare decision to defend himself in front of a jury of his peers. The Atlanta City Council has postponed the approval of a contract that would have equipped the bulk of Atlanta Police officers with body cameras.
Concerns arose at the last minute over the
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