Meharry holds community listening session

Jimmy Bryant Jr., Meharry Ross Fitness Center Trainer, Georgina Iyamu, MD, and Patricia M. Hammock, M.Ed. Director, Title III.

Meharry’s Stakeholder Work Team hosted a Safety Net Consortium Listening Session on quality healthcare for all at the Salahadeen Center of Nashville on Saturday, May 3.

Representatives from Meharry Medical College, Nashville General Hospital, government officials and community members gathered to voice their opinions about the future of Nashville General hospital’s future and express concerns about care of the city’s indigent.

Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, senior pastor of New Covenant Christian Church and member of the stakeholder team moderated the event.

“We are a team who have come together to address what we believe to be the most important issue facing our city today; and that is ‘how do we take care of the least of these,’” said Cummings.

The ‘Community Listening Session’ is a component of the Stakeholder Work Team established by Meharry President James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D. to examine new models for indigent care in the city.

According to Cummings, Meharry’s stakeholder team was created very intentionally to represent all aspects of the community.

“We are looking at the whole issue of how we can arrive at a comprehensive system of care that includes services at Nashville General Hospital and all of our neighborhood clinics, so we decided to do these sessions so we can hear from the voices of people across the city,” she said.

“General Hospital is funded and operated by the city of Nashville,” said A. Dexter Samuels, Ph.D. SRVP, Student Affairs and Executive Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy. “Funds come from the Hospital Authority whose members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. Meharry provides the doctors for the hospital.”

General Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient physicians, and Meharry provides outpatient only physicians

A variety of perspectives were represented, from hospital staff and physicians to former patients of the facility who, when they were ill, had no place else to go for treatment. Meharry’s 15-decade history of serving the underserved of Nashville was on display, as was its long-established record of care within the city’s community.

“General hospital gives good service to the community,” said one audience member whose child was born at Nashville General. “My wife had a delivery, and the baby was [underweight]. You provided good service.”

The same gentleman talked about another time that he attempted to seek service at another hospital.

“When I had chest pains, I went elsewhere and they would not accept me because I had no insurance,” he said, “so I went to General and they did. They give good service to those who do not have insurance.”

Another bright spot of the Meharry/ Nashville General relationship on display was the Nashville General Dr. Robert E. Hardy Cancer Center that is staffed by Meharry doctors.

“Our oncology department is outstrip-ping other oncology departments in the Mid-South,” said a Hospital official.

The Hardy Cancer Center has a silver (soon to be gold) accreditation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, the Cancer Center.

“Our survival rate outstrips anyone else in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia—any of the states in the South East.”

The Stakeholder Work Team will be holding further community meetings in other areas of the city to gain an extensive body of citizen opinions and input.