Some Black Leaders Upset Over Candidate to Lead Grady Board

Craig Schneider, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 14, 2007

Consideration of a white retired CEO to lead the new Grady hospital board has angered some black leaders, who say it fuels suspicions that the white business community is trying to take over the hospital.

The name of Pete Correll, former head of Georgia Pacific, has emerged as a possible leader of the new board.

The existing Grady board of trustees voted last month to hand over much of its power to a new independent nonprofit board and is expected within weeks to approve the lease agreement and name new board members.

Some black leaders say the prospect of Correll leading the new board heightens fears that the hospital will sacrifice its 115-year mission of serving the poor and uninsured, many from struggling black communities.

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He said he believes the business community wants control of Grady’s real estate and its millions in contracts and that Correll would not protect the hospital’s mission to serve the poor.

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The Grady board has yet to publicly identify candidates for the new nonprofit board, which is expected to have about 15 members and could be operating by March.

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The new board is expected to choose its own leader, but clearly its composition will heavily influence that decision.

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The controversy over Correll comes less than a month after the board irked state and county lawmakers and the business community with the demanding tone of its resolution to create a nonprofit operating board. Some serious backpedaling by the board has calmed those tensions.

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“Whoever talks about this as a racial takeover of the hospital is living on another planet,” [Ben Johnson, managing partner of the law firm Alston & Bird and a chamber task force member] said. “I think it’s time people get over this stuff and get ready to solve the problems.”

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