Grady Memorial Hospital is pursuing a $46 million project that includes upgrades to the decades-old burn unit at its Downtown Atlanta campus, according to a state filing.
It would also renovate lab space and add dozens of health care workers. Just over $22 million would be spent on improvements to the burn unit, with the rest going toward renovated labs. About a third of the project would be funded with philanthropic donations.
Grady filed a certificate of need application (CON) this week to renovate the Walter L. Ingram Burn Center and lab space at 953-bed hospital. A CON is the state government’s approval of the creation or expansion of a new health care facility.
Grady serves as a center of the state’s health care system. It operates one of only three burn units in Georgia and is the state’s largest provider of indigent and charity care and Medicaid services, according to the application. Sections of the facility have not undergone significant renovation in many years.
Grady wants renovate about 28,000 square feet of lab space on the first floor of the campus and about 26,000 square feet of the burn unit on the third floor of the campus.
The project would add 11 short-stay beds in the burn center. It will also add two dedicated operating rooms, says the CON.
Grady proposes to add 69 new full-time workers as part of the project, including 44 registered nurses.
The proposal comes after the recent closures of both the WellStar Atlanta Medical Center main and south campuses, according to the filing. Those closings made “efforts to modernize and expand the hospital even more urgent,” it said.
Danielle Hackett, director of public relations for Grady health systems, told the Chronicle that the project would be “supported by philanthropic funds.” The CON says around $16 million will come through private contributions, with the rest stemming from unrestricted cash reserves.
Hackett said upon CON approval, the project will kick off in June and is expected to be complete in April 2025.
Recently, Grady has been under additional stress due to Wellstar Health System’s closure of its Atlanta Medical Center hospitals in East Point and the Old Fourth Ward, which left it as the only Level 1 trauma center in the city. In December, the Chronicle reported that Grady grew its intensive care capacity by 40% to meet the increased needs created by Wellstar’s closures.
Much of the lab space in the hospital was built in the 1950s and expanded in the 1970s, says the CON. The burn center, which treats more than 3,500 patients a year, will be expanded into space that is also “vintage 1950s,” says the application.
Grady says the burn center has been operating at more than 75% occupancy in 2021 and 2022, with “many days that the burn center is full.” The average length of stay has also increased by 3 days since 2020.
“Grady operates the only comprehensive burn center backed by the busiest Level 1 trauma center in the state,” says the application. “The Burn Center serves patients from more than 50 Georgia counties, as well as patients from Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina.”
Grady is the sixth-largest hospital in Atlanta, according to Chronicle research.