At least 22 indigent patients suffering from kidney failure in Atlanta, Georgia have been literally left to die for the past several weeks. These former patients of Atlanta’s sole nominally public hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital, were cut off from regular dialysis after the expiration of a contract, on August 31, between Grady and a private corporation Fresnius Medical Care. Immediately after the expiration of the contract, on September 1, Fresnius refused to provide treatment to these patients, forcing them to wait until their medical condition had become dangerous enough to seek treatment in Grady’s emergency room. Most of the patients are undocumented immigrants and some others do not qualify for either federal government’s Medicaid or Medicare coverage. According to Grady spokesperson Matt Gove, this latest deal is to last until 2014 and Grady has agreed to pay Fresnius $15,500 per patient per year or about $325,000 for the 21 remaining patients. Crass corporate-minded hospital management has over the past few years repeatedly hounded these helpless patients to find “other long-term arrangements.” Grady management has also frequently goaded the patients to either leave the state or the country, all in order to save money for the hospital.
Grady Hospital, founded in 1892, has over the past 120 years grown into one of the largest public hospitals in the US. Countless thousands of uninsured and poor people both in the state and elsewhere have come to rely upon the hospital for care. Steep funding reduction by the counties especially after the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, has impacted the hospital budget very hard. Reportedly, Grady faces a budget deficit of $25 million this year. In order to balance the books the counties have turned to newly hired corporate managers to bring Grady’s budget to balance. These highly paid managers have gone about their mission with gusto, gutting longstanding medical facilities such as the dialysis center and implementing staff layoffs. Earlier this year the hospital announced that it plans to lay off 100 people to save $6 million. The callousness with which officials of Grady and Fresnius have treated the patients who lack the means to pay reveals the consequences of a health care system administered in the interest of corporate profits, where live-saving care is available only for those who can pay rather than for everyone as a basic human right.
Title: Atlanta Dialysis left to die
Publication: World Socialist website
Author: Kranti kumara
Student Researcher: Sean Lawrence, Sonoma State University
Faculty Advisor: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University