At its Tuesday, May 27 meeting, the Blount Memorial Hospital board of directors unanimously approved a partnership agreement with Cherokee Health Systems to enhance services and resources for the medically underserved in the community.
Effective June 30, the partnership brings together the medical and behavioral health services of the two established providers to form an integrated health care delivery system for the medically underserved in the community under the Good Samaritan Community Health Center name. While the center will continue to provide services at the Good Samaritan Clinic location, 116 Chantilly Lane in Maryville, the center operations will be managed by Cherokee Health Systems. The hours of service and the phone number will remain unchanged.
“For 10 years, we have watched the Good Samaritan Clinic grow and develop into a strong program that provides comprehensive services to our community,” said Blount Memorial Hospital administrator Joseph Dawson. “Extending our hand in partnership with Cherokee Health Systems will provide our patients with access to an integrated approach that will greatly benefit the behavioral health needs of our patients and offer more resources to the clinic for the future. This is an exciting day for us as we address the needs of our community and announce this partnership. We look forward to working together for many years to come.”
Dawson added that in the decade since the establishment of the Blount Memorial Good Samaritan Clinic, both the clinic services and needs of the community had outgrown the traditional clinic model.
“By partnering with Cherokee Health Systems, the clinic becomes part of a regional network of community health centers that provide an integrated model of care. Good Samaritan Clinic patients will be able to benefit from services and resources previously unavailable to them, such as behavioral treatment and other preventive services,” Dawson said.
In speaking about the partnership, Cherokee Health Systems administrator Dr. Dennis Freeman said that it was “an honor for Cherokee Health Systems to partner with Blount Memorial Hospital to continue the great service mission of the Good Samaritan Clinic.
“Cherokee and Blount Memorial have been friendly neighbors for a number of years and we have enjoyed productive collaboration on a number of levels. This new partnership allows each organization to focus on their strength, thereby ensuring the continuation of quality health services for the residents of Blount County and the surrounding area.”
The two organizations agree that they are logical partners, each bringing a unique piece of the medical/behavioral health specialties to the partnership. The clinic brings an effective 10-year medical clinic operation to the mix, and Cherokee Health Systems brings more than 45 years of behavioral health and 25 years of primary care experience.
Both organizations are not-for-profit entities who have a history of serving the medially underserved, and who share a like-minded philosophy of care and mission. Additionally, they have a five-year history of working together in a community access grant that promoted the integrated health model of medical and behavioral health.
Because Cherokee Health Systems is a Federally Qualified Health Center, the Good Samaritan Community Health Center and its patients now will benefit from federal funds and programs -- such as lower-priced medications -- that previously were not available to them.
In his report to the board of directors, Dawson emphasized the importance of volunteers at the center. “With the support of numerous volunteers, the Blount Memorial Good Samaritan Clinic has been able to provide more specialty care than it otherwise could have. With the new organizational structure, the need for volunteers will be as great as ever.”
In addition to the extensive volunteer time and talent provided to the Good Samaritan Clinic by individuals and groups in the community during the past decade, Dawson commented on the much-needed financial contributions. “The Good Samaritan Community Health Center will continue to need the support of community funding and will remain one of several projects of the Blount Memorial Foundation,” he said.