Q&A: Grady Memorial Hospital's New CEO, John Haupert

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , August 12, 2011

Most of Grady's are around the 20,000 level. There's probably a need to expand that primary care practice to get preventive and chronic disease care into the communities. The hospital itself is a 1950's facility and there are no plans to replace it. Parkland is fortunate to have an allocation from the property tax that brings in around $370 million annually. Grady has nowhere near that contribution from the counties flowing into its mission. The big puzzle is to make sure the funding is there to continue the mission.

HL: What immediate measures do you plan to take to make Grady into center of clinical excellence?

Haupert: I will have to make that call once I get there. Their relationships with Emory's and Morehouse's medical schools are really solid. I met with leaders at Emory when I was there and I came away very impressed with their commitment to Grady and the care provided. I don't have any grave concerns about quality, but I can look at it more closely once I get there.

HL: What are the political differences between the two, best you can tell?

Haupert: One of the big differences is that the business leaders of Atlanta back in 2008 approached the county commissioners about taking over the governance of the hospital. Since that happened, it's had a really positive impact.

Commissioners are well-intended, but you want a consistent stable governance structure and the business leaders have provided that. And the Woodruff Foundation's $300 million tied to that change in governance is a huge plus for Grady, compared to other public hospitals. As you know when you mix politics with governance, politics sometimes wins out and it's not the best for the patient.

In Texas, each public hospital is single-county based. The issues are the same. There's more demand for care from the uninsured and underinsured than there is money to provide it. It's working with those counties to figure out how best to use the dollars available.

But [there aren't] enough dollars to do everything that everyone needs. One of the big issues for Grady is that do you provide care to people in counties outside of those that support you with funding? The board at Grady has been discussing whether they can continue to provide that. We have that discussion here at Parkland all the time, and have pushed the legislators to give up something, especially in the outer counties, and that's not easy.

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