Atlanta hospital expands EMS service, raising concerns over business practices

Atlanta-based Grady Memorial Hospital has expanded its ambulance services and established a for-profit business to maintain ambulances, which some experts say may bend the rules for nonprofit organizations, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The public healthcare provider has expanded its ambulance service to over 16 counties and signed patient transfer contracts with six hospital systems over the past decade. The service is cost-effective and efficient and helps the hospital support underserved patients in Atlanta, William Compton, senior vice president of Grady's EMS, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Critics say Grady's business strategy takes advantage of the hospital's tax-supported nonprofit status to undercut other EMS providers. Nonprofits are permitted to establish for-profit subsidiaries, but they must demonstrate clear divisions between operations. Mr. Compton is listed as an executive for Grady's nonprofit and for-profit businesses.

The relationship between Grady's nonprofit and for-profit operations is entirely appropriate, the hospital told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Critics also say the hospital is overpromising on its response times. Grady said it would provide nine-minute responses to life-threatening calls in several cities, but it is still struggling to reach that time for south Fulton County.

The expansion has no impact on the level of services offered in Atlanta, the hospital said, adding that Grady has doubled the number of ambulances it deploys during peak hours in south Fulton and lowered response times. "Grady goes all in no matter where it is located and is committed to improving levels of service in every jurisdiction," the hospital said.

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