Based on and using a successful model to provide medical care to a segment of the population that is typically either not served at all, or as well as others, the Trinity Health Center is open for business.
A mere four weeks into its operation, the health provider in the DeSoto County Dream Center, 6935 Windchase Drive in Horn Lake, knows there is a need and they can be the source of primary healthcare to those working people who are uninsured or underinsured in DeSoto County.
The model is the Church Health Center in Memphis and its founder and executive director since 1987, Dr. G. Scott Morris. Church Health started in 1987 with Morris and a small staff. It has grown since then to help those needing healthcare in the Memphis vicinity and now based in the Crosstown Concourse.
Trinity Health Center believes the same result can happen for DeSoto County because the need is definitely here, said Director of Operations Betty Carson.
“The poverty threshold determined by the federal government for 2017 is $12,060 for an individual and $24,600 for a family of four,” Carson said. “Approximately 10.4 percent, or 18,200 of DeSoto County residents live at or below the poverty level. Roughly 27 percent, or 47,000 of the population lives at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.”
Carson goes on to say that there is a significant number of DeSoto County residents who either don’t have health insurance or not enough health insurance.
“According to the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey in 2016, 20 percent of Mississippians were without any form of health insurance,” Carson explains. “DeSoto County’s un-insurance rate is roughly 17 percent, or about 29,750.”
A full-time nurse practitioner is on staff on Trinity Health Center and Dr. Patrick Ball provides two days seeing patients in addition to his practice. Dr. Ball is also on-call at any time for Tina Smith, who is the nurse practitioner. Smith calls her work “a calling.”
“After hearing about the beginning of Trinity a couple of years ago, it has definitely been pretty prominent in my thoughts,” Smith said. “It is very inspiring and gratifying to be a part of the start.”
Dr. Ball added what Morris is doing at Church Health inspired him to be involved.
“Scott Morris is a good example for a lot of people and hopefully we are going to be able to recreate that here,” Dr. Ball said. “ There was a big need in Memphis and he’s come along and met that. Nobody else has had the drive, but there’s an obvious need and he had the drive to do it.”
The cost of being seen at Trinity Health Center is based on family size and income. Patients must reside in DeSoto County to be seen. Carson said if someone questions whether they are eligible, they need to call the center and find out.
“If someone is not sure that they do not meet the criteria, we want to say yes more than we say no,” Carson said.
Trinity Health Center views itself as more than just a clinic. Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development Kimberly Remak pointed out that the center is a faith-based mission to serve and encourages churches to become active in their mission.
“We have had several churches reach out and have joined our circle of support, but we continue to have open arms and want other churches and businesses to help us support this effort,” Remak said.
Those opportunities include volunteering in medical and non-medical areas. Clerical work, marketing, fundraising, and patient engagement are among the ways people may be involved beyond those who are working on the medical side of the facility.
“The model is that we work with a small core staff and enlist a lot of volunteers, doctors, nurses, all types of providers, so you can have more hours and see more patients in different settings,” Carson explained, adding patients being seen at Trinity have been quite thankful the center is here.
“We’ve had really good patient responses in that the patients that we have seen expressed the fact that they had nowhere to go for health care, that there was an active need and they were looking for a place where they could be seen without insurance,” Carson said. “They came in and had a really good personal care experience. Now, they don’t have to worry about getting sick. That’s what we want to do, be a primary care home for folks who don’t have insurance.”
The presence of Trinity Health Center in DeSoto County now means that those who have health issues but are also dealing with living paycheck-to-paycheck and not having health insurance have a provider that will give high-quality medical care without taking a big bite out of the paycheck.
It is also through generous gifts from individuals, foundations, corporations and organizations that Trinity Health Center can provide quality medical care and those gifts are being actively sought.
But the main focus now is to let DeSoto County know it is open and ready to serve its working uninsured or under-insured.
For more information, contact the Trinity Health Center at www.trinityhealthcenter.org. The phone number for appointments is 662-830-3827. Remak may be reached directly at 901-335-6821 for more information on support opportunities.