Emergency rooms at area hospitals will overflow with mental health patients in crisis. With an already inadequate capacity, the regional hospital will have to turn away more citizens in need. The jail population likely will increase as it becomes practically the only alternative for shelter and care. The county may cut the Grady contract, only to end up paying for more expensive psychiatric services at other hospitals.
In metro Atlanta, Grady provides a large volume of inpatient and outpatient mental health services. The clinics of the Fulton County Health Department and a few nonprofit entities, such as Community Friendship and St. Jude’s House, back up the Grady system. Last year, Grady opened a walk-in clinic downtown that has helped homeless citizens and longtime Grady patients receive community-based services, including counseling, medications and peer support. This clinic helped divert patients from Grady’s and other hospitals’ emergency rooms to a less expensive setting where they get better care. Grady serves over 10,000 patients annually, representing more than 66,000 visits.