Clinic Expands Christ Community’s Services

By Jennifer Johnson Backer

Last year, Christ Community Health Services delivered 652 Memphis babies. Even with that patient volume, the faith-based medical organization had to turn away about 180 patients daily because the organization’s facilities are stretched beyond capacity.

In 2011, the infant mortality rate for Shelby County was 9.6 per 1,000 live births, a 35 percent decline since 2003 when the rate was 14.9, the highest rate in a decade. Despite the decline, Shelby County’s infant mortality rate is still well above the national rate target established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through Healthy People 2020, which is six deaths per 1,000 live births.

To combat those figures, Christ Community Health is opening a 4,000-square-foot women’s health center in Midtown near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and North Hollywood Street. The new center is expected to open in late July or early August and will provide gynecological and obstetrics services to women. About 90 percent of Christ Community Health’s patients live below the poverty level.

Shantelle Leatherwood, practice administrator for Christ Community Health, says the new center will provide comprehensive prenatal and obstetrics care that meets the psychological, physical health and social needs of the patients it serves. The new health center is partnering with other community groups to provide women with housing and career assistance, parenting education, and behavioral health services.

“We are strategically positioning ourselves to be a positive response to the community.”

–Shantelle Leatherwood
Practice administrator, Christ Community Health

“We found those factors are a great predictor of infant mortality,” Leatherwood said. “Our hope is to provide many of those services at the clinic so they don’t have to go other places to receive those services.”

Christ Community Health Services also has other health care centers in Hickory Hill, Orange Mound, Binghampton, South Memphis, Frayser and Midtown. The faith-based medical provider provided health care services – including adult, newborn and pediatric care – and dental care to nearly 54,000 area residents in 2012. The new Midtown women’s clinic will have the capacity to treat about 4,200 patients each year.

The Midtown women’s health center will be a collaborative effort between Families Matter, Neighborhood Christian Life Choices and Christ Community Health.

Leatherwood said many of the organization’s clients are dealing with mental and social issues that can become overwhelming during pregnancy, and that can endanger the health of the unborn baby.

“These are often much more than just the physical issues,” she said. “We want to help them deal with the social and mental issues that are impacting them and to make sure we are giving them the encouragement to overcome those issues.”

Leatherwood said Christ Community Health Services received a large donation to help support the operations of the new Midtown health center. The clinic will accept TennCare, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Patients who do not have insurance and qualify can pay on a sliding scale.

Christ Community Health will also continue operating its Broad Street Health Center, which also is in Midtown.

In spring 2014, the faith-based medical provider also will open a 19,000-square-foot medical center, dental clinic and pharmacy in Frayser. A private donor provided funds to purchase the 4-acre property, and federal government also provided a $4.8 million grant.

“Nothing is going to change unless we change the mindset and culture,” Leatherwood said. “We are strategically positioning ourselves to be a positive response to the community.”