The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority voted unanimously Nov. 26 to relinquish day-to-day operational control of Grady Memorial Hospital to a not-yet-formed nonprofit management corporation.

The nonprofit corporation’s initial board–to be known as the Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation–will be up to 17 voting members appointed by the hospital authority chairperson, and would include four hospital authority members.

“This vote is a critical first step, and we appreciate the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority’s courageous action and hope that it will lead to a successful reorganization,” said A.D. “Pete” Correll, co-chair of Greater Grady Task Force and former chairman and CEO of Georgia-Pacific. He said he expects the state, counties and the charitable community will have to read and understand the conditions the board has established in order to proceed toward an acceptable restructuring.

The change of power structure potentially opens the door to hundreds of millions of dollars for the hospital from the public and private sector.

The hospital is crumbling under the weight of budget cuts, growing numbers of uninsured seeking free care and inefficient operations. Grady, bleeding from a $55 million deficit, is expected to run out of cash by year end.

The consequences of Grady closing would be major on the community and competing hospitals. Grady has the city’s only Level 1 trauma center and provides the lion’s share of medical care to the city’s poor and uninsured.

The hand-over is contingent on several factors including written commitments for at least $200 million in money from business, charitable and philanthropic groups to be paid over a four year period; and written confirmation from state officials, including the governor and lieutenant governor, of their intention to support additional direct financial assistance from the state of at least $30 million annually.

“While the Grady Board takes the necessary first step to put its own house in order, I am actively working with the lieutenant governor and the speaker [of the Georgia House of Representatives] on funding solutions for Georgia’s trauma network that will doubtlessly infuse funds to Grady Memorial Hospital,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “I have no intention of signing an unenforceable document that seeks to bind the state to a specific, annual appropriation. I look forward to working with Grady’s leaders and exploring the state’s role in helping hospitals like Grady that provide critical trauma services to Georgia.”