Travel, retail, now doctor's visit at airport

By Justin Boron

The Atlanta airport is a city unto itself. From its eateries to the clothing shops in its atrium, the colossal, mass transportation hub seems to have everything employees and passengers need. To top it off, now they can even knock out a doctor's visit there.

Burger King employee Yavor Kehayov, 20, of Burgas, Bulgaria recently waited with a bandaged finger in the lobby of the airport's health clinic overlooking the atrium.

He said he wasn't feeling too well.

But at least the R.L. Brown Grady Medical Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport saved him the hassle of leaving the airport to get his finger fixed up.

The Grady satellite office is more than just a clinic for cuts and scrapes though. Other than non-life threatening urgent care, it offers primary care, workers compensation medicine, physical therapy, and radiology, said Gary Cobb, the airport medical center's director.

"They could come and do a flu shot," he said. "If they just have asthma, they can come for asthma."

While the office is geared primarily toward airport employees, passengers can use it as well, Cobb said.

Conceivably, they could have a check up before they get on a plane.

The office also contracts with the airlines and concessionaires so they don't have to send their employees away from the airport for drug testing and physical therapy for on-the-job accidents, Cobb said.

He said they can handle as many as 100 drug tests each week.

Injuries are also a big time pull for the medical center.

While the Grady office takes regular patients, the fire rescue team handles the life-threatening emergencies.

"It works just like it does outside the airport," said Capt. Dennis Gray, the EMS director for Atlanta fire rescue at the airport.

Calls come in through a dispatch and the EMS team responds from one of the four stations at the airport, he said.

Gray said recently they had to respond to a birth in the terminal.

"The baby had actually delivered when they arrived," he said.

Then, medical personnel transported the woman to a hospital, he said.

A unique trait to the airport response is the number of heart attack calls the rescue team receives, Gray said.

In the high pace atmosphere of an airport, cardiac related emergencies are one of the most common incidents, Gray said.

"People are stressed. They're in a rush," he said. "They're out of their element."

To help combat the problem, the airport has installed portable defibrillators throughout the airport.

The installations have pumped up the airport's heart attack survival rate from 5 percent to 67 percent, Gray said.

To contact the Grady Medical Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, call (404)-616-6000.