$165M Grady ex­pan­sion would up­grade Ponce HIV/AIDS fa­cil­ity

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

On July 7, At­lanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s of­fice re­leased the cost to in­stall the rain­bow cross­walks at the in­ter­sec­tion of 10th Street and Pied­mont Av­enue, as mis­per­cep­tions con­tin­ued to spread about how the project is funded.

“The ini­tial cost to in­stall the cross­walk is ap­prox­i­mately $196,000,” Reed’s Deputy Press Sec­re­tary Je­wanna Gaither told Ge­or­gia Voice via email. “The life ex­pectancy of the cross­walk is 10 years. Our con­trac­tor will make any nec­es­sary re­pairs, in­clud­ing nor­mal wear and tear up­dates, as part of the war­ranty for the first year at no charge. The Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works will be re­spon­si­ble for pres­sure wash­ing the cross­walk as needed.”

The project is pub­licly funded, un­like the tem­po­rary rain­bow cross­walks in­stalled dur­ing At­lanta Pride in Oc­to­ber 2015. That project was spear­headed by gay At­lanta man (and, later, re­al­ity TV fig­ure) Robert Sepul­veda Jr. and gar­nered over $44,000 in do­na­tions, which raised the ire of many in the com­mu­nity who felt peo­ple should have do­nated their money to other lo­cal LGBT causes. At the time, city of­fi­cials said safety con­cerns kept them from mak­ing the project per­ma­nent.

The in­stal­la­tion of this year’s per­ma­nent rain­bow side­walks be­gan at 5 a.m. July 1 and fin­ished ahead of sched­ule the next day, in time for run­ners in the an­nual Peachtree Road Race to dash across the in­ter­sec­tion in the his­tor­i­cally LGBT part of town.

Grady Health Sys­tems is seek­ing $165 mil­lion to ex­pand its main down­town fa­cil­ity and its Mid­town HIV/AIDS fa­cil­ity ac­cord­ing to the At­lanta Journal-Con­sti­tu­tion. The pro­posal calls for con­struc­tion of a seven-story sur­gi­cal ser­vices cen­ter across the street from the main fa­cil­ity, and the Ponce de Leon Cen­ter, which treats more than 5,000 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV an­nu­ally, would be ex­panded and mod­ern­ized.

If all goes to plan, two more floors will be built out at the Ponce cen­ter and the build­ing will be up­dated – some­thing that hasn’t oc­curred there since treat­ment mod­els for HIV/AIDS changed. The moves would be cru­cial as At­lanta is at the epi­cen­ter of the HIV/AIDS epi­demic, be­ing fifth among metro ar­eas in new HIV cases and with over 30,000 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV.

No con­struc­tion plans ex­ist, but Grady Health Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Re­nay Blu- men­thal told the AJC that they ex­pect com­mu­nity sup­port.

“We have the land. We have a vi­sion. We have a plan in the broad sense of the word,” she said. “The next step is mon­e­tiz­ing it. Can we make a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship a re­al­ity?”

Two fund­ing sources would be Ful­ton and DeKalb coun­ties, which con­trib­ute funds for Grady’s op­er­at­ing costs but haven’t given money for cap­i­tal im­prove­ments in 25 years, ac­cord­ing to Blu­men­thal. The AJC re­ports that Ful­ton County Com­mis­sion Chair­man John Eaves, a may­oral can­di­date, sup­ports the plan, but that DeKalb County CEO Michael Thur­mond had no com­ment. The rest of the fund­ing would come from pri­vate donors.

The move would al­low Grady Hos­pi­tal to add 52 beds, and the new sur­gi­cal ser­vices cen­ter would add six op­er­at­ing rooms plus ded­i­cated rooms for gas­troin­testi­nal pro­ce­dures, an out­pa­tient imag­ing cen­ter and a re­lo­cated can­cer cen­ter. Over­all, the project would in­crease clinic ca­pac­ity by 45 per­cent and op­er­at­ing room vol­ume by 25 per­cent. There are also plans to build a Grady-funded $38.3 mil­lion park­ing deck with 660 spa­ces for the new fa­cil­ity.

Af­ter fund­ing and per­mits are se­cured, con­struc­tion is ex­pected to take be­tween 2.5 and three years.

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