Clinics Join Forces

Tennessee Charitable Care Network's Mary Kiger discusses meeting community needs, sharing success

Oct. 10, 2017

The Tennessee Charitable Care Network (TCCN) was established to provide support, education and representation for nonprofit organizations that provide charitable health care services to low-income, uninsured and underserved Tennesseans.

Better Tennessee talked with Mary Kiger, executive director of TCCN, to find out about their successful initiatives and how they are meeting community needs.


Better Tennessee: When was TCCN established?

Mary Kiger: The Tennessee Charitable Care Network (TCCN) was established three years ago.

Our members are committed to working together to create a stronger and more compassionate health care safety net for all Tennesseans in need.

BT: Does that include preventive care?

MK: All of our clinical members provide some level of wellness and prevention education as part of their routine care, and many are developing innovative programs that we hope to see replicated across our membership and beyond.

Faith Family Medical Center (FFMC) in Nashville offers a great example of that with their Journey to Health program.

Joshua Southards, director of operations at FFMC, notes that 60 percent of their patient population has diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and/or obesity.

Journey to Health helps them with wellness, prevention and chronic disease management.

There are yoga classes, 5K training, and a community garden where patients not only learn, but also participate in their journey to a healthier diet. These efforts aim to make everyday health decisions easier.

Small changes result in steady progress on the path to wellness at Journey to Health.

BT: How do TCCN members share best practices with each other?

MK: Replicating practices is a central pillar of our work and we do this in a variety of ways:

  • An annual Spring Symposium for leadership
  • A Fall Organizational Conference for the total membership where we can highlight innovative programs and best practices
  • Monthly roundtables via teleconference, and
  • Regular email updates summarizing key issues and resources of relevance to members.

Perhaps most importantly, our members are incredibly generous in sharing their time and expertise to help each other start programs, improve processes and strengthen any other area that a sister member seeks to improve.

Sarah Phillips (right) encouraged David A. Gregory to seek help at Healing Hands. Click here to read their story.

BT: Explain how that process led Healing Hands to launch Passport to Health.

MK: Helen Scott, the executive director of Healing Hands Health Center (HHHC) in Bristol, toured FFMC’s clinic two years ago and learned about their incredible wellness program.

She knew that her clinic’s patients could greatly benefit from a wellness program like theirs. She explained the program to her board of directors, got her team together, and discussed the agreement Faith Family has with BlueCross to allow other clinics to replicate their program.

A grant was awarded to start a wellness program tailored to serve the population of Northeast Tennessee, allowing HHHC to hire their first staff nurse practitioner, a registered medical assistant, a certified health coach and a wellness outreach coordinator.

The outreach coordinator educates adults and children in the community on the importance of exercise, nutrition and oral hygiene. 

How will the two programs continue to interact?

MK: As HHHC transitions from nurturing a program in its infancy to a more mature state, we will continue to work together to share lessons learned and best practices.

Through data collection within TCCN, the programs hope to benchmark outcomes and support each other’s efforts.