The Johnson City Community Health Center and the Johnson City Downtown Day Center, which are managed by the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing, a part of ETSU Health, have implemented policies to help ensure that patients continue receiving important medical care throughout the pandemic.
“Although COVID-19 is the disease in the headlines, we know that our patients have a host of other health concerns that continue to require medical care and attention,” said Silas Tolan, executive director of ETSU College of Nursing Community Health Centers. “Throughout this crisis, we have had patients cancel or put off appointments for a variety of reasons that range from financial concerns to safety concerns.
“We want our patients to know that we are addressing these issues so that they can continue to receive the important – and for some, life-saving – care that they need.”
A significant barrier to care has been the increased number of patients who are unemployed and/or uninsured during this time, Tolan said.
In May, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development revealed the state’s highest-ever unemployment rate amid the COVID-19 health emergency. The preliminary seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for April 2020 was 14.7%, which was an unprecedented spike of 11.4 percentage points when compared to March’s revised rate of 3.3%. This is Tennessee’s highest unemployment rate in a generation.
“The Johnson City Community Health Center and the Johnson City Downtown Day Center are available for insured and uninsured patients during these uncertain times,” Tolan said. “If you are recently uninsured due to unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are here for you. Our services are offered on a sliding fee scale for the patient portion of the bill, and the slide is based on household size and current income. The sliding fee scale is offered to uninsured and insured patients alike.”
Even before the pandemic, the ETSU College of Nursing Community Health Centers have been committed to providing vital health care to patients of the region regardless of their ability to pay. Located at 2151 Century Lane (behind Woodridge Hospital), the Johnson City Community Health Center is a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary facility offering primary care and other specialty services.
The Johnson City Downtown Day Center, located at 202 W. Fairview Ave., which is known for serving the homeless population, has expanded over the past 30 years to include the uninsured, underinsured, TennCare enrollees, a growing Hispanic population and medically indigent individuals.
No patient is turned away from the Community Health Centers due to their inability to pay.
Tolan also recognizes that many patients are reluctant to come in to the clinics because they are afraid of possible exposure to COVID-19. To allay these concerns, the clinics offer telehealth appointments via telephone or computer so that patients can receive care from the comfort of their own homes. They are also taking extra safety measures to ensure that patients and staff are well protected. These include enhanced cleaning practices, installation of physical barriers where appropriate, temperature and symptom monitoring, and the use of face masks, gloves, and other protective equipment.
Throughout the pandemic, the clinics continue to provide a full range of services such as acute, chronic and preventive care for all family members, behavioral health services, pediatric/newborn primary care, pharmacy services and radiology services. A full list of services is available at www.etsuhealth.org.
To make an appointment, call the Johnson City Community Health Center at 423-926-2500 or the Johnson City Downtown Day Center at 423-439-7371.