Your morning jolt: Emory president hints at new, less charitable relationship with Grady

A state-of-the-university speech isn’t normally a source for political news, but in his address this week, Emory president Jim Wagner dropped several hints this week that his institution’s relationship with Grady Memorial Hospital is about to change.

The 46-minute YouTube clip can be seen here:

But if you don’t have that kind of time, at the 13-minute mark, Wagner a warning, and it wasn’t just for about-to-be furloughed employees. The Grady references are marked in bold:

”Spending from our endowment is entirely a short-term fix. In fact, it is an entirely unacceptable strategy for the long term. Instead, our strategy must be to come to a new financial level as soon as possible, that will allow us to go forward spending only a portion of the interest earned on that endowment…

“By developing new revenue, and reducing expenses, we must go forward on a financial base that is at least $60 million smaller annually than we had planned for from the endowment and our investment income.

“At the same time, we have other challenges. We need to meet new and significant levels of expense stemming from our determination to meet the growing need for student financial aid at all levels. And in still another blow to our resource picture, we need to adjust to a new mix in the way that patients pay — or increasingly, don’t pay — for the health care services we provide. Even as we wait for, and try to influence the pending health care reform legislation.

“Our philosophy is to attempt to make these changes to our budget in a permanent way, and in as short a period as possible.”

And then at the 41-minute mark:

“To yield to those who urge us to employ more of our assets to shore up failing enterprises or to make attractive concessions to new businesses at the cost of pursuing our primary purpose to be a powerful intellectual community, only insures over time that the very things that makes Emory a jewel in the crown in our region’s financial enterprise network, will tarnish…

“It may be that Emory becomes a better healer not by tending to larger numbers of patients necessarily, but by setting our sights according to the standards of other great academic, medical and health centers, thus developing new approaches and modalities to be adopted also by others around the world, therefore improving the health and healing of millions who will never even set foot in one of Emory’s hospitals or clinics.”

On WABE (90.1FM), reporter Denis O’Hayer has posted an interview with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, attempting to pin him down on how the state can possibly increase spending on roads, education and reservoirs without an increase in revenue.

Said Cagle:

”I do think that there are services that are being rendered free that actually have a market value. And I would be amenable to that. The GBI provides fingerprints and other informational items that really are being rendered at no cost.

“I’ve been a long-time proponent of trying to bring more of the free-market solutions into state agencies. EPD is a prime example. If you want a permit in 30 days it costs this, if you want it in 60 days, it’s this, and if you want it in 90 days, it will cost this.”

Cagle said he’s not in favor of ending the exemption of groceries from the sales tax, or raising the cap on the state income tax. But he said this:

”I do think we can cut our way out of it. This is not an environment by which you can raise taxes. I think we need to be open to the idea of restructuring our tax code, even to the point of looking at more of a flat tax, going away from an income tax and more to a sales tax.”

Sounds like something a certain House speaker proposed not too long ago.

Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Cobb County within the next two hours, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Director Craig Fugate in tow. Last we heard, U.S. Rep. David Scott will escort them about the flood area.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss will be there, too.

Also today, expect state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine to increase his estimate of the damage caused by the three days of flooding. On Tuesday, he set a figure of $250 million. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said Thursday she’s been telling the Obama Administration that the damage must be at least four times that.

A spokesman for Oxendine said this morning that the original figure was only preliminary.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s

  • Georgia floods ‘epic,’ officials say.
  • Special grand jury to look at Gwinnett land purchases.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson chief calls for higher passenger fees.
  • Watchdog tells Atlanta candidates to stop e-mailing city employees.
  • Atlanta mayoral candidates: Improve disaster preparedness.
  • Stone Mountain Park visitors can bring guns to the tourist attraction.
  • GDOT to pay for road signs from federal stimulus funds at $1,500 per sign.
  • Some opinion:

  • Jim Wooten thinks we need a lot more Bobby Coxes.
  • Jay Bookman doesn’t like reserving interstate lanes for the affluent.
  • Coach Screamer hurts our kids.
  • Some health plans work now.
  • And from beyond:

  • NYT: U.S. to Accuse Iran of having a secret nuclear facility.
  • WP: Terrorism suspect planned peroxide bombs, officials say.
  • USA Today: Poll shows 50% oppose U.S. surge in Afghanistan.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    3 comments Add your comment

    Emory Alum '09

    September 25th, 2009
    12:36 pm

    It’s about time. It was hurting the university to continuously subsidize the public hospital. Grady is for the city/state to pay for, not a private university.


    September 27th, 2009
    7:27 am

    Emory should abandon Grady and scale down its training programs. Grady and its clientele are not worth the cost. The training at Grady, despite the idealistic cries of medical and allied health students, is not nearly as useful as what the students could get by training in a real community hospital setting, of which Emory has several that are unused. After all. these students will in all probability never end up working in a setting like Grady. They all end up at academic medical centers or in community hospitals. Thus, they should be taught in those locations.

    John Nardo MD

    September 28th, 2009
    7:32 am

    “Emory should abandon Grady and scale down its training programs. Grady and its clientele are not worth the cost.”
    JD makes a remarkable assertion about Grady’s “clientele.” That aside, those of us who were taught and have later taught at Grady would overwhelmingly disagree with him. Training in his “real community hospital setting” is a poor second by any standard or report. JD’s comment says more about JD’s view of the world that either Grady’s enterprise as a teaching hospital or the “worth” of Grady’s patients…