September 16, 2022
It's Friday. We're here. We're doing it.
Today's weather: Sunny and gorgeous. High of 84.
Today's newsletter is 905 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: All eyes on Grady
Two weeks after Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center announced it would close by Nov. 1, state and local leaders say they have come up with a way to fill the gap.
Driving the news: Yesterday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the state is giving $130 million of its federal COVID relief money to fund a 185-bed expansion at Grady Health System, the city's remaining Level 1 trauma center.
- Kemp said the state will immediately send to Grady a 24-bed mobile hospital unit previously used during the pandemic.
- They join 40 already-planned new Grady beds.
The big picture: Grady President & CEO John Haupert told reporters that after the expansion, targeted by the end of 2023, the gap left by Atlanta Medical Center will be more than covered.
- While the Wellstar hospital was licensed for nearly 500 beds, he said its average adult patient load was actually 165 per day.
Of note: With the new beds, Grady will become the largest Level 1 trauma center in the country in terms of number of trauma patients admitted, a spokesperson said.
What they're saying: "While the decision to close was certainly no one's preference, our job is to now move forward, to move forward together and find a viable solution to the needs of the impacted community," Kemp said.
- "These are not Band Aid solutions," Kemp said, also highlighting the state's new funding formula designed to give Grady and Augusta University Medical Center better reimbursement rates for patients on public health insurance.
- The new formula means Grady will receive about $130 million in additional funding each year.
The other side: In her own press conference yesterday, Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams again blamed Kemp's decision not to expand Medicaid on the closure.
- Even though Wellstar has said that wouldn't have changed its decision, she told reporters she doesn't believe the hospital network was "wholly honest about what Medicaid expansion could have done."
Threat level: Haupert told reporters that while the influx will help Grady build the new beds, it still needs more annual funding from DeKalb and Fulton to cover the expenses of treating more uninsured people.
What we're watching: Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts said he is actively working to find a new healthcare facility to move into south Fulton County to cover the losses of two of Wellstar's hospitals, including the Atlanta Medical Center South closure earlier this year.
2. Yep, it's tasty: Juniper Cafe
🥢 Greetings. Thomas here.
Last week, Bon Appetit named Juniper Cafe and Bakery one of the country's 50 best new restaurants.
- Being journalists, Emma, Kristal and I had to investigate ourselves.
Details: Led by the chefs behind Candler Park's Lazy Betty, the colorful spot serves up a super-smart fusion of Vietnamese and Southern cuisine.
- Think savory coconut chicken crepe, Vietnamese hot fried chicken, a delightfully fluffy and crisp banh mi with caramelized pork, and a packed noodle salad with Thai fried tofu.
What they're saying: In the days following the article’s release, the team saw double the expected number of customers — including some who drove an hour to try the food, general manager Shauna D. Whitson told Axios.
The verdict: It's well worth the hype. Don't miss the paper-thin crispy okra appetizer, Vietnamese coffee and a gooey signature cookie stocked with pecans, oatmeal and chocolate chips.
3. Not a ranking to brag about
Pockets of high inflation — particularly in the West and South — are snarling Democratic efforts to hold the Senate, Axios' Hans Nichols reported in Axios AM this week.
- The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.3% over the past year, according to surprising data released yesterday. That's awfully high — and it's even worse for lots of pivotal voters.
The Phoenix metro area saw inflation rise 13% year-over-year. That's the highest local metropolitan reading in the country.
- The second highest metro rate is 11.7% in the Atlanta area.
Zoom in: The national average gas price is $3.70 a gallon, down from $5.02 in June.
- In Georgia the average is $3.21. But prices are notably higher out West — sitting at $4.93 in Nevada, $4.05 in Arizona and $5.43 in California.
There's no way to sugarcoat the overall number, which diminished hope for Fed Chair Jay Powell to achieve a "soft-landing" for the economy, Axios' Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown write.
4. Get out: JapanFest, Ween and food
You've worked hard all week. Time to close the laptop and go outside.
Friday: ELEVATE ATL in Downtown; Willow Smith at Cascade Skating Rink (RSVP); Parker Gispert at The Earl; Happy Days Weekend Festival in Hapeville; Mercyland and Donkey Punch at 529; Ween at The Eastern
Do you see yourself with a new career?
5. 😢 Five-ish Points: Say it ain't so, Zesto!
🍦 Zesto on Piedmont Road in Buckhead will close Sept. 18. (AJC)
👀 Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says her 2020 election probe is set to expand its list of targets. (Axios)
A hacker took control of a Facebook page memorializing 2-year-old Tripp Halstead, who died in 2018, and is using it to make money by sharing posts. (11 Alive)
🧐 Atlanta is considering a controversial proposal to use money from its Affordable Housing Trust Fund to address food insecurity. (Atlanta Civic Circle)
🦌 Thomas is welcoming Casper the bontebok to Zoo Atlanta.
🌴 Emma is off for a few days celebrating a beautiful couple's wedding in the beautiful Santa Ynez valley!
😭 Kristal is sad that another Zesto is closing.
Today's newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Lisa Hornung.