Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Area could use health clinic, team concludes

Leadership Donelson-Hermitage group looked at feasibility of free or low-cost services By ANDY HUMBLES • Staff Writer • September 3, 2008 When Tom Ozburn was chief operating officer at Summit Medical Center, he saw too many people using the emergency room as a primary care office. So as a member of Leadership Donelson-Hermitage, he proposed that his team research the feasibility of a free or low-cost health clinic for the community. Ozburn couldn't continue with the project because of a job change; he became chief executive officer at Southern Hills Medical Center. But Team Hands On continued to pursue the concept and provided a business plan to the Leadership Donelson-Hermitage board before graduation. Team investigated concept The project team was one of three making up the 10th class for Leadership Donelson-Hermitage. Every year the new members are broken up into teams to perform a service project that leads to graduation. "Our conclusion was there is a need for something like that in the community,'' said team member Susan Sizemore. "A lot of people said, 'Boy, that would be a big help.' '' Team Hands On met with health-care personnel and providers and visited free clinics. The team also studied statistical data of the Donelson-Hermitage, Old Hickory and West Wilson County area, such as numbers of low or uninsured people and the indigent population. Staffing and space needs, legal requirements, and startup and land costs in the Donelson-Hermitage area were all considered, as were ongoing costs of the operation. Free and low-cost clinics generally rely on nurses and doctors willing to donate time, corporate and private donations, fundraising drives and events. The team's business plan allowed for one paid executive director at about $45,000 a year. The plan also cited a need for a co-payment based on a sliding scale according to income for services that ranged from $10 to $40. Agencies can check out plan A clinic would not be a project taken on by Leadership Donelson-Hermitage, executive director Deann Bradford said. But the business plans are available for interested organizations. "The biggest obstacle would be money,'' Bradford said. "If a church or organization that already has property did it, then they could incorporate it with what they do.'' At least one church has shown an interest in developing the idea, but Bradford wouldn't name it. Ozburn's role turned out to be more limited with his move to Southern Hills effective near the start of 2008. He was at Summit about 2½ years. He believes people in need of health care but without adequate insurance often eventually go to a hospital for treatment with more problems than if they were receiving frequent primary care on the front end. "A lot of people use ER as a primary care office because they don't have any other avenue, and that is the most expensive way to receive health care,'' Ozburn said. "These patients will be cared for one way or another. Either on the front end, or the back end when they enter the facility very sick and ill." For information visit Contact Andy Humbles by telephone at 726-5939 or by e-mail at

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