Section: People & Places in the News, April/May 2017
Health Centers Working to Meet Addicts' Long-Term Health Needs
Providers at Cherokee Health Systems, Dayspring Family Health Center, and Neighborhood Health are among those on the front lines of addressing the opioid epidemic.

As early as 2010, they began to see the signs of the coming epidemic. Patients came in for primary care with needle tracks on their arms and full-blown cases of undiagnosed hepatitis C. Pregnant women waited until well into their third trimester to seek prenatal care -- afraid to keep taking the drugs they were on, afraid to quit. People, hurting, no longer able to afford the prescription opioids that dulled the pain, stooped to buying heroin on the street.

They'd come in, see a doctor or nurse practitioner, then disappear for weeks or months. Some would get clean, only to relapse. Some would come back with their parents or their children -- multiple generations of families hooked on drugs.

Mercy Community Healthcare Expands, Renovates Facilities
Mercy Community Healthcare has expanded and renovated its offices in Franklin's Williamson Square. The health care provider has added a new patient and family support center and renovated its counseling center and health center.

It took about a year to complete the $685,000 project.

"First and foremost our patients are uninsured or underinsured," said CEO Cindy Siler. About 70 percent of Mercy's patients are uninsured or have TennCare.

"Our patients now have a state of the art location to have access to primary care," Siler said.

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Neighborhood Health and Partners Open "My House"
My House, a collaborative project between Neighborhood Health, Nashville CARES and Street Works, is a comprehensive one‐stop-shop for those with HIV/AIDS or at risk and their family and friends. The clinic, located in Nashville, opened in April.

The project's goal is to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care and optimize health outcomes for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS throughout Middle Tennessee. A full range of services is accessible under one roof. Services include education, testing, prevention, navigation, counseling, and STI/Hepatitis/TB testing and screenings, medical treatment and essential support services.

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CHS's Maynardsville Clinic Offers Food Pantry to Patients
"Food, glorious food!"

So begins the famous song that is so much a part of the Broadway musical "Oliver!" Indeed, food is so important, especially when you don't have any

The food pantry at the Cherokee Health Systems' Maynardville Clinic has become an integral part of the services offered to patients. Serving a largely indigent rural population, the clinic staff learned long ago that hunger is one of the health related issues faced by the patients at their clinic. The staff started a food pantry to address the urgent need for food when patients came to their appointments and were clearly hungry. The staff made every effort to keep the pantry stocked, donating food and hygiene supplies from their own resources. With the need so great, it sometimes felt like a losing battle to keep the shelves full.

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Tennessee Leaders Discuss Impact and Challenges in Washington, D.C.
In March, health center leaders from Tennessee and throughout the US joined decision-makers and public health leaders in the heart of Washington, D.C., for the NACHC Policy and Issues (P&I) Forum. Health care issues were front and center as the new Administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to assess health policies and consider proposals to restructure key federal programs, such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Medicare.

The objectives were clear: to preserve Medicaid and health centers' unique role within it; to maintain current services by fixing the funding cliff well before the September 2017 deadline; and to ensure strong funding to enhance health center capacity, including investment in workforce.

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