A medical group trying to encourage hospitals nationwide to dump fast-food franchises on their premises is taking its message to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine —a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit of 12,000 doctors — has erected three billboards around the downtown Atlanta medical center to encourage board members not to renew the fast-food restaurant’s lease, which is up for renewal in late June.
A member of the group, Karen Smith, a registered dietitian, will call on Grady to pass on the renewal at the hospital board’s monthly meeting Monday.
“Fatty fast food in the hospital can place staff, visitors and patients at risk for heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses,” Smith said. “Hospitals should ban the burgers and focus on beans, greens, fruits and whole grains to prevent and even reverse heart disease.”
The group said Northside Hospital also has an on-premise McDonald’s, but that they are addressing Grady because the McDonald’s contract there is up for renewal.
“We know there contract is coming up and we think we can influence them,” said spokeswoman Jeanne S. McVey. “This is our chance.”
There are 14 on-premise McDonald’s at U.S. hospitals
Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said the fate of the Grady McDonald’s has not been determined.
“The health system will be exploring a number of options for the current McDonald’s location in the coming weeks and months,” she said.
McDonald’s is not the only fast-food chain to raise the ire of the Physicians Committee. The group also has called on hospitals to close on-premise locations of Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A.
The group in January installed billboards near Chick-fil-A’s South Fulton headquarters and above a gas station pump on Highway 54 West in Fayetteville. It asks consumers to “Eat More Chickpeas,” a twist on the chain’s “Eat mor’ chikin” campaign.
The group wants Chick-fil-A removed from Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and University Hospital in Augusta. The Physicians Committee said Chick-fil-A is in 19 U.S. hospitals.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com