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Cherokee Health Systems: A Non-Profit, Multicultural, Community-Based Healthcare Provider in Tennessee

Cherokee Health Systems

Healthcare is a basic human right, but not everyone has equal access to quality and affordable care. Many people face barriers such as lack of insurance, language, culture, transportation, or social support. That is why community health centers are essential in providing comprehensive and accessible care to the underserved populations. One of the examples of such centers is Cherokee Health Systems (CHS), a non-profit, multicultural, community-based healthcare provider in Tennessee.

History and Mission

CHS was founded in 1978 by a group of community leaders who recognized the need for mental health services in rural areas . They started as a small counseling center in Blaine, Tennessee, serving about 300 patients in the first year . Over the years, they expanded their services to include primary care, dental care, pharmacy services, eye care, and more . They also grew their locations to over 20 sites in 13 counties, serving more than 70,000 patients annually .

CHS’s mission is to provide high-quality healthcare for everyone, regardless of ability to pay . They serve a diverse population, with more than 40% of their patients being uninsured or underinsured . They also serve many immigrants and refugees from over 60 countries, offering care in many languages and with respect for all cultures . They use an innovative and integrative model of healthcare that combines physical and behavioral health services in one setting .

Services and Model

CHS offers a wide range of services to meet the various needs of their patients. Some of their services are:

  • Primary and urgent care for adults and children
  • Behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment
  • Dental care and oral health education
  • Pharmacy services and medication management
  • Eye care and vision screening
  • Social services and case management
  • Health education and wellness programs
  • HIV/AIDS testing and counseling
  • Women’s health and family planning
  • Immunizations and preventive care
  • Chronic disease management and specialty referrals

CHS uses an innovative and integrative model of healthcare called a patient-centered medical home (PCMH), which is designed to respect each patient’s unique needs . In this model, each patient is assigned to a team of health professionals who work together to coordinate and deliver high-quality care . The team includes a primary care provider, a nurse, a medical assistant, a behavioral health clinician, a community health worker, and other specialists as needed . The team also communicates with the patient regularly through phone calls, emails, texts, or online portals .

Impact and Recognition

CHS has made a significant impact on the health and well-being of the communities they serve. Some of their achievements are:

  • Reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits by providing timely and appropriate care
  • Improving health outcomes and quality of life for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and depression
  • Increasing access to preventive care and screenings for cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other diseases
  • Addressing social determinants of health such as poverty, housing, food insecurity, violence, and isolation
  • Promoting social justice and reducing health disparities among marginalized groups

CHS has also received recognition and awards for its excellence in providing community-based healthcare. Some of them are:

  • The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Level 3 PCMH Recognition
  • The Joint Commission Accreditation for Behavioral Health Car
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Quality Improvement Award
  • The Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA) Excellence in Integration Award

Conclusion

Cherokee Health Systems is a non-profit, multicultural, community-based healthcare provider that offers comprehensive and accessible care to everyone in Tennessee. It was founded in 1978 by a group of community leaders who saw the need for mental health services in rural areas. It has since grown to become one of the largest and most respected community health centers in the state. It provides a wide range of services using an innovative and integrative model called a patient-centered medical home. It has made a significant impact on the health and well-being of the communities they serve. It has also received recognition and awards for its excellence in providing community-based healthcare.

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