DEKALB COUNTY, GA—In 2023, DeKalb County implemented several initiatives designed to strengthen the healthcare service delivery network for its residents.
“We are already seeing successes from these enhancements,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said. “Fewer patients are being turned away. More patients are being treated and discharged and are receiving better health outcomes because of these innovative initiatives.”
The closure of WellStar Atlanta Medical Center in October 2022, disenrollment of more than 320,000 Georgia residents from Medicaid coverage and rising costs of healthcare prompted DeKalb to address a looming healthcare crisis in the county.
The healthcare service delivery network was enhanced by the following:
Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation contract enhancements
DeKalb County approved a $145 million, six-year contract with Grady with the following enhancements:
o Grady will establish and operate three new neighborhood health centers in DeKalb County. The goal of the new centers will be to provide expanded hours during the week and on weekends and specialty care services, such as gastroenterology, neurology and endocrinology, based on community needs.
o Grady will provide health services through mobile health and mammography vans.
o Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, DeKalb County and Fulton County will pursue Medicaid expansion during the 2024 Georgia legislative session.
Emory Hillandale Hospital
In October 2022, CEO Thurmond’s $12 million plan to support Emory Hillandale Hospital was approved by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
The plan allocated:
o $1.1 million to create the Hillandale Trauma Recovery Center, a hospital-based violence prevention program that will employ 10 specialists, including psychologists, outreach workers and behavioral health specialists, devoted to violence prevention and trauma recovery.
o $4.7 million to expand Emory Hillandale Hospital’s emergency waiting room by up to 15 emergency room bays.
o $4.5 million to renovate the hospital’s second-floor intensive care unit.
o $1.7 million to replace the hospital’s computed tomography scanner.
o $250,000 grant to a nonprofit entity that will inform and encourage eligible uninsured residents to register for American Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and other subsidized insurance coverages.
CEO Thurmond hired S. Elizabeth Ford, MD, as his special advisor for healthcare. Dr. Ford formerly served as special assistant to President Biden for public health and science and as DeKalb County District health director.
In November 2023, DeKalb County partnered with Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Emory Healthcare, PeachState, PeachCare for Kids, Caresource and Amerigroup to host a Medicaid re-enrollment event to help residents maintain essential health insurance coverage.
More than 400 families received needed assistance to reenroll in Medicaid after more than 320,000 Georgia residents were disenrolled from Medicaid coverage during Georgia’s redetermination process.
DeKalb County Healthcare Landscape Assessment
DeKalb County has contracted with Morehouse School of Medicine to develop a DeKalb County Healthcare Landscape Assessment that will:
o Assess the healthcare needs of DeKalb residents.
o Identify inpatient and outpatient healthcare service providers and future workforce demands.
o Evaluate healthcare quality trends and factors that affect healthcare such as age, housing stability and food insecurity.
|o Identify potential gaps in public and private healthcare delivery services.