The Memphis Health Center, Inc. (MHC, Inc.) was incorporated in 1970 as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit federally qualified health center with the goal of increasing access to comprehensive primary and preventative healthcare and reducing health disparities in medically underserved areas. MHC, Inc. initially opened in a storefront in the Metro Shopping Plaza at Crump and Danny Thomas Boulevards. The initial focus of the Center was on preventative medical and dental care. Two dental hygienists and two nurse practitioners visited Memphis City Schools, instructing students in proper dental hygiene and conducting classes on preventative health care topics.
By 1974, MHC, Inc. had obtained three trailers to be used as temporary medical and dental facilities and had hired additional staff to recruit and register patients as well as to provide care. Five consultant physicians, one dentist, and two dental hygienists delivered care in three medical exam rooms and dental operatories. In the first months of operation in the trailer facilities, an average of fifty patients per day were registered at the health center and over twenty-five patients were seen daily by the health care providers.
The white stucco facility, which is the current home of Memphis Health Center, opened in 1975. Included in the new building were 10 medical exam rooms, 4 dental operatories, a laboratory, and a radiographic exam room. The health center offered a complete range of health services, including physician and nursing care, diagnostic laboratory and x-ray services, pharmacy, home health, dental, and transportation services. In keeping with its goal of accessible "total person" health care, MHC, Inc. stressed preventative health as well as treatment for acute and episodic medical problems.
The services offered at MHC, Inc. reflected the health problems found in the south Memphis community. With a large segment of the population being elderly and suffering from chronic ailments and diseases, a home-health care program was developed. It was also determined early on that the pervasiveness and seriousness of dental disease within the community necessitated a dental program that not only stressed restorative dentistry, but also focused on oral hygiene and prevention of dental problems. Recognizing that a large proportion of its patients lacked any means of transportation to the facility, MHC, Inc. decided to offer transportation to and from the Center to those in the greatest need: the elderly, handicapped, and mothers with infant children. To increase availability of health and dental services to as many members of the community as possible, the Center's hours of operation were extended from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday. Thus, as evidenced even during its earliest years, MHC, Inc. has consistently been a champion for raising awareness and increasing accessibility to safe, quality, affordable, effective, and comprehensive healthcare for all members of the community regardless of socio-economic status, ethnicity, race, sex or religious belief.
In the 1980's , MHC, Inc. expanded its services into northern Memphis by opening two new locations, one in the uptown community on Greenlaw and another on North Watkins. Shortly thereafter, an additional facility was added as MHC, Inc. assumed operations for the Rossville Health Center in Fayette County, TN.
In 1987, as the plight of homelessness became more pronounced in the Mid-South due to an eroding economy, MHC, Inc. initiated the first full-time Homeless Program in the City of Memphis responsible for providing a comprehensive continuum of medical care, offering services such as health education, screening, and primary medical care for acute and chronic conditions to those individuals and families who were either already homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. In conjunction with these efforts, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (WIC) was adopted as well. With these new initiatives underway and an increasing patient demand for medical and dental services, MHC soon exceeded its capacity to provide care. To address this, the main location on E.H. Crump Boulevard was expanded by an additional 7,600 ft2.
MHC, Inc. obtained Ambulatory Accreditation in 1996 under the Joint Commission's program for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. MHC has continued to work diligently maintaining only the highest quality healthcare standards allowing it to retain this prestigious accreditation for each year since. The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in the health care industry. Achieving and maintaining accreditation status requires MHC, Inc. to regularly submit to unannounced site surveys performed by the Joint Commission's highly trained and experienced industry experts. During these surveys, the Joint Commission evaluates MHC's actual performance in relation to the Commission's current set of state-of-the-art standards focusing on patient safety and quality of care.
Throughout MHC, Inc.'s existence, its personnel have regularly and actively worked in conjunction with local public and private school systems to provide school-based health services to the area's students. MHC has provided primary health services to students, faculty, and staff of LeMoyne-Owen College since 1996, currently at its Towne Center location at 915 East McLemore, Memphis, TN 38126.
As the HIV/AIDS population has grown throughout the Mid-South, MHC, Inc. responded by applying for and receiving federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration in 1998. These funds are administered through the Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act also known as the CARE Act. This epidemic has been particularly devastating to the residents within the community that are at the highest risk of poverty, lack health insurance, and are disenfranchised with the state of the current healthcare system. This extension of service was a natural fit within the Center's stated mission and this initiative continues to provide high quality, primary healthcare and education to at-risk patients to this day.
One of MHC, Inc.'s overriding goals has been and continues to be to work to reduce or eliminate the existence of health disparities among members of medically underserved populations. In 2001, MHC began participating in the National Health Disparities Diabetes and Asthma Collaborative. The Collaborative's goal was to improve health performance measures through improved healthcare delivery systems, to increase access to care, to improve patient education, and to improve patient knowledge regarding effective disease management techniques. Wanting to continue to do more, the Center participated in the National Cancer Institute's Southern Community Cohort Study in 2002 followed by participation in the Community Networks Program in 2006 in collaboration with Meharry Medical College . Both programs are working towards finding and explaining the existence of disparities in certain cancers. Armed with the findings from these initiatives, it is hoped that the healthcare industry will be better able to implement more effective preventative measures leading to a significant reduction in the instances of these cancers nationwide.
To this day, MHC, Inc. consistently supports all manner of community awareness and quality health service delivery methods. This is evidenced by the enormity of the overall contributions to the health and safety of the Memphis/Shelby County and Fayette County communities over the greater part of 4 decades. Currently, MHC, Inc. continues to fulfill the same mission established during its 1973 creation with participation in such important programs as the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program, Breast Cancer Awareness, the Syphilis Elimination Program, the Blues Project, WIC, Social Services, in conjunction with comprehensive, safe, affordable, and effective health service offerings, including: Primary and Preventative Adult Care, Primary and Preventative Pediatric Care, Obstetric, Gynecological and Mammographic services, Podiatry, On-Site Pharmacy service, X-Ray service, Ryan White Part A HIV/AIDS treatment program, Homeless Care, as well as Adult and Pediatric Dentistry through its three locations: 360 E.H. Crump Blvd., Memphis, TN 38126, 915 East McLemore, Memphis, TN 38126, & 4940 Highway 57, Rossville, TN 38066.
The Memphis Health Center of the future will continue to focus on its core values and mission, while adapting to the ever changing technological landscape through its conversion to Electronic Medical Records, E-Prescribe, and the implementation of an Automated Prescription Dispensing System. The focus will remain, as always, on being a patient first and patient centered care provider.
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