Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday declared a state of emergency for Fulton County after flooding damaged more than 200 rooms at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Emergency patients have been diverted to nearby hospitals since Saturday, when a 2-foot water pipe burst and flooded several floors of the building.
In his declaration, which frees up state resources to assist Grady, Kemp said a portion of the hospital’s electrical system was “irreparably damaged” by the thousands of gallons that flowed through the facility.
“Due to the increased patient load, other metropolitan Atlanta hospital systems are now at capacity and implementing or contemplating implementation of diversion protocols,” the executive order reads. “Assistance from the state of Georgia is necessary to provide for the public’s safety and restore the social and economic welfare of the affected county.”
At a news conference Friday morning at the state Capitol, Grady CEO John Haupert announced that a 30-bed mobile hospital will be brought in from North Carolina to offset the influx of patients who are being diverted to surrounding hospitals.
He said the structure resembles a hospital inside and will allow doctors to treat people as the 222 in-patient rooms damaged in the flood are repaired.
It’s expected to take about a week to transport the mobile unit to Grady, but Haupert said authorities are working “quickly to get that asset in place.”
Grady advertises itself as the busiest trauma center on the East Coast, and the rerouting of patients has put a strain on the resources of Emory and Piedmont hospitals. Emory Healthcare said Tuesday that its Midtown location went into diversion mode because of the high volume of patients from Grady.
In an effort to relieve the burden on those hospitals, Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said Thursday that Grady would begin accepting trauma, stroke and burn patients only.
In addition to accepting some new patients, Grady will operate the Atlanta Metro EMS coordination center to ensure that ambulances inside the Perimeter are transporting patients to the appropriate hospitals, she said.
“Centralizing the coordination of Metro Atlanta EMS Services will ensure patients are being transported to the appropriate facilities based on their medical needs,” she said.
Hospital officials estimate the electrical repairs could take up to three weeks to complete. In the meantime, 30% of Grady’s elevators are out of service.
The cause of the burst pipe, which occurred between the sixth and seventh floors of the hospital’s patient wings, is being investigated by local engineering firms, Haupert said.
“We know what happened, but we are now determining how and why it happened,” he said. “We are also bringing in a forensic engineer so that we understand exactly what happened and determine what we need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”