Season to Give

It is fitting that as we prepare for the Christmas Giveaway, the Tennessean is running a series of articles about nonprofit agencies in middle Tennessee. One of CRC’s 80+ nonprofit partners, United Neighborhood Health Services, was profiled today.

” Freda Brooks spent the better part of this year living on the medical equivalent of the edge.

Brooks, 49, has high blood pressure and diabetes. For the first time in her 32-year work life, she is part of the working uninsured. Brooks thinks that’s what gave her the nerve to ask a coworker the kind of question that might seem impolite.

“I asked her, ‘How do you afford your insulin?’ ” Brooks said. “She told me, ‘Well, I go to the United Neighborhood Clinic.’ “

United Neighborhood Health Services is a full-service community clinic system founded in 1976 that aims to ensure that everyone — regardless of income or insurance status — has access to the health care they need, said Dr. Keith Junior, chief medical officer. Today, the nonprofit agency operates more than a dozen clinics in mostly lower-income areas of Nashville and Hartsville and areas where other medical practitioners are scarce.

The agency also takes health services to the homeless, has established clinics in a few Nashville area schools and housing projects and operates a clinic at Skyline Medical Center.

United Neighborhood Health Services will take care of about 30,000 patients in somewhere between 85,000 and 90,000 office visits this year, Junior said. Of its patients, 8,000 to 10,000 are under age 19. About 55 percent of patients are uninsured and billed on a sliding scale based on income and family size.

“What we try to do is see people and keep them out of the hospital if we can keep you out of the emergency room, keep people from becoming a catastrophic case,” Junior said.

This week, Junior, has treated what may be terminal liver disease, diabetes and the complications of diabetes, such as wounds that will not heal, hypertension, flu symptoms, high blood pressures, asthma and bronchitis.

“It is a godsend, a godsend. I don’t know where I would be it weren’t for them,” Brooks said.”

UNHS is one of the 67 agencies that will come next week to pick up Christmas gifts and basic necessities for their clients. Our biggest requests this Christmas are socks, underwear, coats, clothing, and blankets. I am amazed by how many people are in need of the most basic items. For information on how to help visit http://www.crcnashville.org.

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