Emergency Care: Protecting Population Health by Servicing All

Grady Memorial Hospital, founded in 1890, continues to have a significant presence in the city of Atlanta. Those born in the city often refer to themselves as “Grady babies”, an endearing term that comes with a certain sense of pride. This respect stems from the rich history of Grady Memorial and Atlanta as a whole. The hospital is the Southeast’s largest Level 1 trauma center and they are committed to providing quality care for the residents and underserved people of metro Atlanta and Georgia.

Grady Memorial doesn’t turn anyone away. They provide healthcare for all of their patients, including those who cannot pay or don’t have health insurance. Dr. Arthur Yancey, Medical Director for Grady’s EMS Emergency Communications Center, told us about Grady Memorial’s six neighborhood clinics and their Mobile Integrated Healthcare Unit (MIHU). Clinic services focus on treating patients the moment they come in contact with them, and the MIHU focuses on working with high risk patients to reduce the costs associated with hospital readmissions.

On Homelessness

Homelessness is so much more than the stigma that surrounds it. Many believe that the homeless are those who roam the streets; however, this is a biased notion. Not having a roof over one’s head does not equal homelessness — an unstable home does. Atlanta’s increasing homeless population stems from the city having the highest level of income inequality in the U.S., giving way to their inclusive free healthcare system.

According to Emergency Medicine Physician and Medical Anthropologist Dr. Bisan Salhi, it is easier to bring someone from the brink of death than to get them the housing and food security assistance they need in the community. Our social welfare systems and healthcare systems are designed in such a way that our emergency lifesaving treatments are often more available than basic social services.  Resources hard to coordinate for patients include transportation, healthy food, and housing. However, there are many social determinants that keep vulnerable populations from reaching the best possible health outcomes. Dr. Salhi defined social determinants simply as, “the easier and better your life is, the better your health outcome is.” Therefore, if you live in an area with more availability to resources, your health outcomes will be better than those who are restricted.

(link to Georgia Poison Center jingle)

Georgia Poison Center

The Georgia Poison Center is a free and valuable resource for Georgia’s communities. It is part of a national network of poison control centers around the country. These centers are invaluable resources during toxicological emergencies and can be an early warning and surveillance system for contamination events or disease outbreaks.  Poison control centers are an economic investment as every dollar invested in them saves $20 in healthcare costs. The Georgia Poison Center is funded by both state and federal sources and works closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health.  They are a busy center as they receive up to 100,000 calls per year.  Given the medical cost savings and the number of individuals that are assisted, it was noted that each state would benefit from a poison control center.

Dr. Ziad Kazzi, an emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist at Grady, met with us and made reference to several interesting points about the more commonly ingested products including e-cigarettes and vaping fluids, laundry detergent pod ingestion, and even asphyxia from the inhalation of helium from balloons. Another emerging issue is stemming from the legalization of marijuana and the dangerous effects it has had on children that accidentally consume edible products with THC.  This shows the importance of poison control centers and the need to preserve them to protect the future.

Team 3 — Alyse, Danielle, Deanna

Team 4 — Angela, Auriel, Jennifer

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