The College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will open the UTHSC Health Hub in Uptown on October 30 at 10 a.m. Located at 534 North Second Street, the UTHSC Health Hub is a neighborhood-based approach to improving health status and outcomes in underserved areas in the community.
The launch will include a ribbon-cutting and open house, as well as health screenings, a healthy cooking demonstration, and the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Health Department Director Michelle Taylor, MD, are expected to attend.
The UTHSC Health Hub in Uptown is the first in what is hoped will be series of locations established by the UTHSC College of Medicine under its Equitable Health in Neighborhoods initiative to provide a convenient entry point to primary care in underserved areas of Memphis and Shelby County. The care will focus on three conditions – obesity, hypertension, and diabetes – all of which are linked to increased deaths from many diseases, including COVID-19.
Memphis is at the center of a national epidemic of obesity-associated chronic disease, and certain neighborhoods, including Uptown, are at particularly high risk. The current health system that is focused on acute illness care does little to address the health behaviors driving this epidemic. Data from the UTHSC Population Health Consortium and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that people in many Shelby County neighborhoods, such as Uptown, lack access to primary care and may use the emergency room instead. Data for the Uptown Zip Codes show higher rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes than in Shelby County as a whole. As a result, there are more heart attacks and strokes.
The hub at Uptown will be staffed by certified health coaches, who have been trained through UTHSC’s health coach training and certification program. The coaches will offer the following services: Screening for obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes; support for health behavior change and chronic disease and lifestyle management; and assistance for patients in getting access to essential primary and behavioral care. The UTHSC Health Hub will give people in the Uptown neighborhood essential preventive and primary care health services. Its health coaches will empower residents to increase healthy eating, exercise, and medication adherence; to get control of high blood pressure and diabetes; and to stop smoking.
“We’re using a new model of care for deploying health coaches in neighborhoods to help with early screening of people at risk for stroke and heart attack, and to provide coaching around healthy eating, physical activity, taking medications appropriately, and tobacco cessation,” said Jim Bailey, MD, MPH, FACP, Robert S. Pearce Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, and director of the Center for Health Systems Improvement and the Tennessee Population Health Consortium at UTHSC.
Previous research led by Dr. Bailey found promising results from health coaching in helping individuals with diabetes better manage their disease. Preliminary results from the MODEL (Management of Diabetes in Everyday Life) study, found 84% of 259 patients randomized to a health coaching program stuck with it, enjoyed having a health coach, and reported improvements in diabetes self-care, medication adherence, motivation, and satisfaction with overall care.
“We’re using a proven approach to help people improve their own health through health coaching,” Dr. Bailey said. “We’re really introducing a whole new model of care to give everyone an opportunity to get the most essential primary and preventive care close to home. People need access to care that is focused on preventive care first and foremost, helping people achieve real lifestyle changes, moving toward healthier living, to prevent and treat high blood pressure, diabetes, and all the obesity associated conditions.”
The UTHSC Health Hub at Uptown will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.
“Every single person deserves to have someone who cares about them and works with them in partnership to achieve their health care goals,” said Scott Strome, MD, executive dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine. “In my opinion, this is a fundamental human right. The UTHSC Health Hub moves us one step closer toward achieving this goal.”