NASHVILLE, Tenn. Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (Matthew Walker) has served Middle Tennessee for nearly 50 years. It was established in 1968, and has since served as a private, non-profit healthcare agency for just under 18,000 patients every year.
Matthew Walker’s Chief Executive Officer, Katina Beard, described the organization as a “safety net” for individuals and families without health insurance, inadequate insurance, or with high deductibles. “We provide medical, dental, laboratory and radiology services,” she said.
Matthew Walker’s primary facility is in Nashville, and it has satellite locations in Clarksville and Smyrna. Each location provides multiple services to its community, keeping in line with a simple mission: to provide quality healthcare services and health education, and to promote wellness.
“We’re placed in communities with health disparities,” Beard explained. “Many neighborhoods are faced with little or no access to affordable health care, high poverty and various socioeconomic challenges; our role is to decrease those health disparities.”
Matthew Walker’s quality standards, approach to customer services and systems for health promotion, chronic disease management and dental care are directly tied to its goals for reducing socioeconomic, racial and ethnic barriers to healthcare in Middle Tennessee. “We want to make sure children have immunizations and hypertension patients have the care they need,” Beard said. “We want communities to have an affordable, accessible place for health services.”
Keeping with that mission, the organization also works with the C.E. McGruder Family Resource Center as a freestanding facility providing various social services for parents, youth and seniors. More than 20 collaborating partnerships offer free programs like after-school and summer enrichment programs, GED and computer classes for adults, parenting classes, assistance with food stamp applications, health insurance enrollment assistance, a community garden and more.
Beard called the facility “a social services hub.” All of it, she said, falls under the wellness spectrum for individuals and their communities.
To prepare for the future, Matthew Walker is also focusing on training for various provider staff, including nurse practitioners and physicians, as well as entry-level positions. “We’re making sure our services are integrated,” Beard noted, “being more responsive to the community and its needs.”
Beard has been with Matthew Walker for roughly 18 years. She began with the organization as a temp in its administration office before going to graduate school at Meharry Medical College for two years. Upon graduation and receipt of her MSPH from the public health program, she returned and held several positions throughout the organization before becoming the CEO.
About the Safety Net Consortium of Middle Tennessee
In May 2000, the Nashville Consortium of Safety Net Providers was created through memorandums of agreement between all existing primary care safety net providers and six of the nine hospitals in Nashville and the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville and Davidson County (MPHD). The purpose of the Consortium was to provide access to appropriate level of care for the uninsured population of Nashville through the establishment of a system of information and care coordination. By September 2001 the Consortium had expanded to include all dental care, mental health care, and substance abuse care safety net providers. Eventually, all nine hospitals in Nashville also became members.