ATLANTA—Three hard-hitting billboards posted near Grady Memorial Hospital on May 4 urge the hospital to go #FastfFoodFree. According to documents obtained by the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—Grady’s contract with McDonald’s ends on June 28, 2016. If the space in Grady’s parking garage currently occupied by the fast-food restaurant becomes vacant, the hospital could improve its food environment by expanding its offerings of heart-healthy, plant-based options.
The billboards are timed to get the attention of the Grady Memorial Hospital board of directors ahead of their May 9 meeting. Registered dietitian Karen Smith, R.D., will testify at the board meeting to echo the billboards’ urgent public health message.
“Fatty fast food in the hospital can place staff, visitors, and patients at risk for heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses,” says Karen Smith, senior dietitian for the Physicians Committee. “Hospitals should ban the burgers and focus on beans, greens, fruits, and whole grains to prevent and even reverse heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
What: A registered dietitian will testify before the Grady Memorial Hospital board of directors; billboards have gone up near the hospital to get the attention of board members
Who: Karen Smith, senior dietitian for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
When: Grady Hospital’s full board meeting begins at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 9; billboards were posted May 4
Where: Board meeting at Grady Memorial Hospital, Board Room, 1-B Administration Suite, 1st floor, 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30303; see below for billboard locations
Billboard Details: One illuminated billboard is located 1,058 feet from Grady Memorial Hospital on Auburn Avenue, south side, 100 feet west of Piedmont Road, facing east. It features an image of a woman in a hospital bed. “Clogged Arteries? Your Heart’s Not Lovin’ the Fatty Fast Food,” the billboard states. “Ask your local hospital to go #FastFoodFree!” Viewers can go to www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org and sign a petition to Grady’s CEO or send a tweet to @GradyHealth.
The second billboard is on Metropolitan Parkway, east side, 150 feet north of Ralph D. Abernathy Avenue, facing south. The third billboard is on Ted Turner Drive, SW, east side, 20 feet north of Castleberry Street, SW, facing north. All three billboards went up May 4.
The Physicians Committee obtained the McDonald’s contract with Grady Memorial Hospital through Georgia’s Open Records Act and discovered that the hospital has a “percentage rent” agreement with the fast-food chain. This means that the more unhealthful food sold to staff, visitors, and patients, the more money the hospital makes.
Costs are a concern to safety net hospitals like Grady, but a recent study shows that healthful, disease-fighting food can be inexpensive. Published in Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, the study finds that omnivores can save $750 a year by simply switching to a plant-based diet.
Several hospitals named in reports issued by the Physicians Committee have recently improved their food environments. These include Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Texas, Memorial Regional Hospital in Florida, Riley Children’s Hospital in Indiana and the Cleveland Clinic, all of which formerly hosted McDonald’s. Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minnesota has announced it will close its McDonald’s by May 31, 2016, ending its contract early.
In the Physicians Committee’s 2016 report on hospital food, Grady Memorial Hospital received a patient food score of 71 percent. It lost points for hosting a McDonald’s.
For a copy of the billboard artwork or an interview with Karen Smith, R.D., or another expert, journalists please contact Jeanne McVey at 202-527-7316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.