By Jacqueline Holness
When Emily Eubanks was diagnosed with stage II triple-positive breast cancer in April 2015 at Grady Memorial Hospital – after her first mammogram at 40 years old, she thought she could possibly die because she didn’t have the money for treatment.
“I told Dr. Gabram that I didn’t have the money for medication and chemotherapy,” says Eubanks, who was then self-employed and not making a lot of money. “She was so calm. She held my hands and said, ‘Don’t worry about that. We will take care of that.’ But I thought she’s a surgeon. She has money. Her telling me everything would be okay wasn’t comforting, at first.”
In addition to meeting with a team of oncology doctors to outline her treatment the day she was diagnosed, she also met with a Grady social worker, Makeeta Rayton, who told her she qualified for Women’s Health Medicaid which enables women who have been diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer but without health insurance to receive treatment for free.
“A whole bunch of bricks were lifted off of me. I didn’t have to pay for anything, not even one co-pay,” says Eubanks, who completed treatment last year.
Eubanks’ medical treatment regardless of her income was what then Atlanta Mayor John Thomas Glen had in mind when he “outlined a resolution for the City of Atlanta to build a public hospital to give expert and sympathetic medical care to those in the city who might need care and be unable to afford it,” before the Atlanta City Council on January 4, 1890, according to a National Register of Historic Places inventory nomination form for Grady. Grady, which officially opened on June 2, 1892, was named after Atlanta Constitution managing editor Henry Woodfin Grady, who died in 1889. A “New South” advocate, he “had long wanted a facility that would be free from all sectarian and denominational influences and prejudices.”
This June, Grady will celebrate its 125th anniversary. The public hospital which began with 100 beds and 18 employees, now boasts 623 beds and a staff of 5,742 people. Medicaid and Medicare patients comprise 28 percent and 24 percent of Grady patients, respectively. Throughout the course of its history, Grady has achieved many milestones. In 1921, a Grady physician performed Georgia’s first open heart surgery. Two years later, its Steiner Clinic, the world’s first and largest comprehensive cancer center, was created. In the 1940s, one of the world’s three cardiac catheterization labs – at that time – opened at Grady. In 2003, the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System opened. The center was the first to open as part of the Georgia Cancer Coalition’s plan to build a “statewide network of people and organizations devoted to providing all Georgians equal access to exceptional treatment.” …