On Labor Day Sept. 5, about 3,000 people will fill the streets of downtown Franklin to run in the 38th Annual Franklin Classic, benefitting Franklin’s nonprofit Mercy Community Healthcare and the 30,000 people it serves each year.
Early pricing for the race has been extended until Sept. 2. To form a team or sign up, see https://franklinclassic.racesonline.com/register.
People of all ages and fitness levels will participate in various divisions of the race from the Kids 1K to the 10K run in the spirit of helping others receive “optimum health care for all” – the insured and uninsured at Mercy.
“There’s a great need [for affordable health care] in counties south and west of Williamson County,” said Cindy Siler, the new CEO of Mercy Community Healthcare, who previously served as the founding CEO of the Tennessee Rural Partnership (TRP), which provides health care workforce to rural and underserved areas of Tennessee.
“Many people think that with Williamson County being the most affluent county in Tennessee, there isn’t a need for this type of service here when in fact there’s a great need here.”
Recently, Siler warmly greeted an older woman sitting in the waiting room at the health care center who waited to receive a shot. She spends a minute discussing thrift store shopping successes and the woman’s love of overalls before shaking the woman’s hand and moving on about her day.
The woman, a Mercy patient, represents just a portion of the population that the health care center serves. Mercy Community Healthcare “reflects the love of Jesus Christ by providing quality and compassionate healthcare to both the insured and uninsured in Williamson and surrounding counties – with a focus on Pediatrics, Adult Primary Care and Integrated Mental and Behavioral Health.”
According to Siler, Mercy receives more than 30,000 visits per year from visitors across 30 counties in the state, treats more than 7,000 patients, 68 percent of which are from Williamson County. Also, about 70 percent of Mercy patients are uninsured, on TennCare, or Medicare.
“As the new CEO, I am excited to be a part of such an amazing group of people. From every department of Mercy, I hear stories of service and extraordinary care as we provide a full gamut of primary care and behavioral health services to all individuals and their families.”
Striving “to care for the whole person,” Siler said.
Mercy Community Healthcare’s Coordination Center offers support services in addition to its medical component, including access to medical social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, nurses and health educators. Located in multiple suites in the Williamson Square shopping center on Murfreesboro Road, Mercy is renovating three locations to accommodate physical and behavioral health care for children, adolescents and adults.
The main medical health clinic houses a newly-combined and renovated pediatric and adult primary care unit. Meanwhile, in a separate close-by office space, the behavioral health department, offers mental health counseling and psychiatric services. Finally, the Patient & Family Support Center, located across a short pathway from the main medical health clinic, boasts social service case managers, medical and disease case managers, insurance referral specialists, outreach and enrollment specialists, ACA certified application counselors, and a Spanish interpreter.
“A mom might come in with a middle school aged kid visiting for a checkup, and the doctor might become aware of a behavioral problem with the child,” Siler said.
“They will do what we call a ‘warm handoff.’ The patient is immediately given to someone who can make an assessment. This is all done smoothly and quietly during the same visit.”
“We have a unique psychology team, it’s very holistic,” Mercy’s Nurse Manager Julie Riedal said. “Someone may come in for another appointment and say ‘I just feel sad all the time.’ We immediately find someone to sit and talk to them. We also do screenings for postpartum depression with every new mother here.”
Mercy first opened in 1999, serving children, previously known as Mercy Children’s Clinic. In 2012, Mercy merged with Grace Medical Clinic to become Mercy Community Healthcare - a comprehensive family medical practice for everyone.
“Leadership saw that not only children needed care but their parents did too,” said Allison Bender, Mercy Director of Development.
Bender added that everyone who comes through Mercy’s doors receives excellent care and that every physician is Board Certified.
“Mercy Community Healthcare is known for its excellent, affordable, and comprehensive care delivered with compassion,” Bender said.
“No one is turned away because of their inability to pay. Mercy also removes barriers by providing extensive bilingual services for the Hispanic community.”
Siler said that the health care team is determined to get the word out that Mercy serves all.
“One of our corporate goals for 2016-17 is to better communicate that we are still the same ministry today that Mercy Children’s Clinic was established to be in 1999,” Siler said. “However, we have expanded and as a Community Health Center we welcome all ages and all insurances. As a ministry, we strive to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus through providing the highest quality of care and expanded services to everyone. We will make arrangements to serve regardless of ability to pay or coverage. Mercy is unique with the most caring staff I've ever encountered. We are blessed and want to be a blessing.”
“Anyone can obtain care here,” Siler added. “We have excellent health care providers.”
According to Siler, patients with private insurance help pay for Mercy to continue caring for other members of the community. A portion of reimbursements from insurance companies help to fund Mercy’s operations as well as grants and funds raised in the community.
Siler said that in the fall Mercy will also be adding a pharmacy under the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at significantly reduced prices.
The Franklin Classic is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, which typically raises over $100,000 for Mercy to carry out its operations and serve patients each year.
COMMUNITY LEADERS TALK ABOUT MERCY
Community leaders continue to praise the success of the Franklin Classic.
“Franklin Classic’s relationship with Mercy Community Healthcare originated when Dick Gygi, then president of CPS, made a bold, God-inspired decision to devote the event to Mercy,” Stites and Harbison attorney Julian Bibb said.
“Since then, the Franklin Classic has been a valuable partner, helping expand the important medical mission of Mercy. In the early days, the Franklin Classic not only provided critical financial support, but it also served as a mechanism for educating the community about the work of Mercy Community Healthcare. This is still an important role of the Franklin Classic,” said Bibb.
Franklin resident and business man Ralph Drury even remembered the early beginnings of Mercy and how the clinic has grown over the years.
“Tom Miller [former Franklin mayor] brought a young doctor wanting to practice charity pediatrics to me wanting to rent a building that I owned on Ninth Avenue,” Drury said of Mercy’s first small space in downtown Franklin.
“I felt with his desire to give to this community that this was something that the community should get behind, so I talked to Julian Bibb and Ed Underwood along with Tom, and after raising money, setting up the organization, and remodeling the building there was Mercy Children’s Clinic. There is so much to this success story, it would fill your paper alone.”
With the success of the Franklin Classic benefit, Mercy hopes to keep creating success stories well into the future, leaving a legacy of excellent care for citizens that contributes to the community’s health and well being.
For more information on Mercy Community Healthcare visit www.mercycommunityhealthcare.org or call 615-790-0567 and toll free at 866-790-8388.