Health Center News

In Tennessee Changing the Image of Community Health Centers

When a health center gains notice for their work, we always try to pay it forward. That is why we are focusing this week on Tennessee, where a feature article in the Knoxville News Sentinel highlighted the work of Cherokee Health Systems and Indian Mountain Clinic in Jellico, TN (operated by Dayspring Family Health Center). These are two health centers that are building relationships in the community and thinking “outside the box” when it comes to delivering integrated and continuous care. The result? These health centers are changing the way people view health centers.

“Over the years Community Health Centers have been known as the ‘poor peoples’ clinic,’ and I don’t think that’s the case anymore,”  Dr. Geogy Thomas, medical director at Indian Mountain told reporter Kristi Nelson. “Now they know us as the provider who will be at my bedside when I’m hurt or dying… We still do home visits.”

Indian Mountain serves a small community along the Kentucky border, and about half of the patient population relies on Medicaid and another 10 to 20 percent are uninsured, according to the article. Cherokee provides primary care and behavioral health services at 24 sites in 13 counties across east Tennessee. Forty percent of their patients are on Medicaid and 30 percent are uninsured. Yet, both health centers are providing a medical home for their patients and using innovative ways to care for patients. For instance, Cherokee was one of the first health centers in Tennessee to use an integrated health model where primary care and mental health services are provided in the same setting at the same time. Indian Mountain uses telemedicine to help prenatal patients with drug abuse issues, partnering with a high risk obstetric practice at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

The article was also picked up by the blog, FierceHealthcare, which also mentioned the great work health centers are doing in California addressing the “whole health” of people, such as diet and nutrition:

California’s community health centers also have increasingly embraced a wellness-focused approach to patient care, the Public News Services reports. One nonprofit clinic organization offers a food bank, financial aid, legal aid and other social programs in addition to healthcare services at its locations, and another such organization includes a community garden, an exercise circuit, hiking trails and a playground at its clinics.

Stay tuned to more posts about how health centers are making a difference around the country.