Resurrection Health Merges With Larger System

By Andy Meek

Resurrection Health, a faith-based, evangelical health service organization that’s opened a handful of Memphis-area clinics since launching in December 2014, has merged with a larger health system.

Effective next month, Resurrection will join forces with Knoxville-based Cherokee Health Systems, which has the largest network of community health centers in the state.

Cherokee Health Systems operates 45 clinical sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and 12 East Tennessee counties. The system, which has more than 500,000 patient visits each year, is also one of the largest federally qualified health centers in the U.S. And its merger will let Resurrection expand its integrated care model into West Tennessee.

Cherokee’s status as a federally qualified health center also means it brings funding stability to the partnership, the organization said as part of the announcement.

RICK DONLON

Resurrection CEO Rick Donlon said his group has cultivated an admiration of Cherokee from afar and that both enterprises “share a commitment to fighting health disparities among the marginalized.”

“We’re excited to benefit,” he said, “from their strong leadership, impressive infrastructure and pioneering work of integrating primary care with behavioral health.”

Resurrection, which has a staff of 57 health care practitioners, has been working to strengthen the primary care safety net in Memphis from its inception. Through its residency program – Resurrection Family Medicine – the organization has also been working to recruit, train and retain top-tier physicians.

Resurrection’s clients in Whitehaven, Frayser and Parkway Village will continue to do business as Resurrection Health under the Cherokee umbrella. Other details, such as the specifics of how expansion might work in the future, are still being sorted through.

Echoing Donlon, Cherokee CEO Dennis Freeman likewise pointed to corporate values and mission being “remarkably aligned” between his organization and Resurrection.

For now, the news marks the biggest milestone yet for Resurrection, an organization that by the end of 2015 was already looking ahead to the opening of new clinics this year, including a fourth location at Range Line Road and Frayser Boulevard in a facility vacated by Regional One Health.

Among the flurry of Resurrection developments in 2015, the organization acquired its nationally recognized family medicine residency program. It was funded through the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, a $230 million initiative as part of the Affordable Care Act that was created to increase the number of primary care residents trained in community-based settings.

“An explosive year for Resurrection Health,” was how Donlon described 2015 to The Daily News.

Resurrection’s model was built around, in part, doing something about the trend of generations of medical students flocking to specialty practices that promise higher incomes, while primary care – internal medicine, pediatrics and the like – is sometimes seen as toward the bottom of the list of priorities.

Resurrection’s myriad services span all populations. For general adult medicine, everything from physicals to routine exams and help with chronic disease management is offered, while Resurrection also can accommodate women’s health needs through things like pregnancy care and cancer screenings.

For children, there are school physicals, immunizations and asthma management, among other services.

Drs. Donlon and David Pepperman launched Resurrection after co-founding Christ Community Health Services in 1995. Resurrection opened its first permanent health center at 4095 American Way before expanding to Whitehaven with a 3,600-square-foot health center at 5339 Elvis Presley Blvd.