Grady Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Ponce de Leon Center

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

On Thursday, November 30, government, business and medical leaders came together to celebrate 25 years of treating patients, conducting research and saving lives at Grady Health System’s Ponce de Leon Center. 

Known as the Ponce Center, the facility houses one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive programs for the treatment of advanced HIV and AIDS and is part of the Emory Center for AIDS Research.  Thursday’s event also recognized the Fulton County Commission, DeKalb County Commission and others who have recently committed funding towards a planned $23 million renovation and expansion. 

“When this facility opened nearly 25 years ago, no one knew what the future would hold.  What was clear was that there were people who needed compassionate medical care and a commitment to identifying ways for them to live with what was then a new disease.  While we should all be proud of the progress we have made, AIDS remains a growing epidemic, especially here in Atlanta, which makes the modernization of this facility even more important,” said John Haupert, chief executive officer of the Grady Health System. 

Grady announced its renovation plans for the Ponce Center earlier this year as part of a capital campaign that will also fund the construction of a new Center for Advanced Surgical Services.  Since that time, both the Fulton County Commission and DeKalb County Commission voted unanimously to provide half of the funding needed to complete both projects.  Gilead Sciences, Inc., a longtime partner of Grady with regard to HIV and AIDS, made the lead corporate gift towards the Ponce Center project. 

“Our company is committed to providing innovative solutions to help those living with HIV and AIDS and to ultimately finding a cure.  The work being done at facilities like the Ponce Center is critical not only to the treatment of current patients but also to stemming the epidemic.  We look forward to seeing what we can achieve through our continued partnership,” said Dr. Trevor Hawkins, senior director of medical affairs, Gilead Sciences.

As part of the celebration, Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation Board Chair Frank Blake was recognized for a significant contribution to the effort.  In addition, Atlanta real-estate executive and philanthropist Eliot Arnovitz announced a donation in honor of his wife, Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, who through her role as a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine has contributed directly to the growth and success of the Ponce Center. 

The program closed with an announcement by Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research, that the Emory Medical Care Foundation would make a $2 million contribution, upon approval from the Emory University Board of Trustees in the spring of 2018. 

“While we all hope to eventually see the end of HIV and AIDS, there is still much work to do.  The modernization of this facility will allow us to expand our capacity to serve patients as well as our research capabilities.  More importantly, it will allow us to save even more lives,” concluded Dr. del Rio.