The Atlanta-based Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has emerged as the most likely source of a $200 million pledge to help save the financially ailing Grady Memorial Hospital, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The identity of the donor has been a mystery since last summer, when representatives of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce announced that an anonymous donor was willing to provide a major gift to the hospital, which had fallen into debt due to rising healthcare costs, dwindling government aid, a lack of paying customers, and years of neglect. The hospital ended last year with a budget deficit of $55 million.
The pledge has been the fulcrum to transition management of the hospital from the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority to a nonprofit corporation — a process that took eight months of often contentious negotiations. The business leaders who brokered the deal made it clear that the donation was contingent on the transition.
Speculation has long focused on the Woodruff Foundation — which has assets of $2.7 billion — as the donor. Grady officials said the donor will be formally identified in a few weeks, when the first $50 million installment is expected to be delivered to Grady via an escrow account. The check cannot be cashed until the nonprofit assumes full control of the hospital, which is expected to occur sometime between May and September. The gift will then be paid over four years and is expected to help draw other donors to the Grady cause.
"In response to speculation that the Woodruff Foundation is a prospective donor for Grady, I can confirm that we have had informal conversations with Grady's board leadership," said Woodruff Foundation president Russ Hardin. "Formal consideration of a grant is still a little premature, but things sure do seem to be moving in the right direction at Grady. Although the process of governance change has been difficult, it's been gratifying to see the state and the community rally to save Grady."