Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. envisions a strategic and effective approach to address healthcare issues in Shelby County.
by Luctrica A. Lewis
Special to the Tri-State Defender
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. envisions a strategic and effective approach to address healthcare issues in Shelby County. He sees it linking hospitals, doctors and social service providers to help improve patient care.
| Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell has lined up support for his new Healthy Shelby initiative. (Courtesy photo)|
The Healthy Shelby initiative, which is linked to Memphis Fast Forward, is designed to lower the cost of healthcare through prevention and streamlining. Memphis Fast Forward is a continuous project of businesses and community agencies that cooperate under the Greater Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce umbrella. Healthy Memphis Common Table, a regional healthcare network with more than 200 health organizations, will lead the new project.
Methodist, Baptist and St. Francis hospitals and The Regional Medical Center at Memphis will team with The Church Health Center and other health agencies as part of the initiative.
“Tomorrow’s medicine has to focus on more than sick care,” said Gary Shorb, of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “It truly has to focus on bringing up the health status of our community.”
“All of our emergency rooms are overcrowded by people seeking primary care in the wrong space,” said
Dr. Reginald Coopwood, CEO of the Med, said, “All of our emergency rooms are overcrowded by people seeking primary care in the wrong space…. So we as community, need to look at how to address that.”
Mayor A C Wharton Jr., a project supporter, said, “It will have just a great benefit to the citizens of the City of Memphis.”
Healthy Shelby looks to reduce healthcare costs by $250,000 over the next 2 years. Luttrell emphasized the need for a holistic approach.
“If you’re going to have education, you’ve got to have good health care,” Luttrell said. “If you’re going to impact public safety, you’ve got to have a healthy community. If you want to grow our workforce, you have to emphasize health.”
Healthy Shelby’s three priorities are:
Better management of chronic disease – Such as diabetes and hypertension.
Better coordination of care – Focusing on methods of care at the end of life.
Better birth outcomes – Reducing infant mortality, deaths that occur in the first year of life.
Luttrell and Shelby County Public Health Policy Advisor, Dr. Kenneth Robinson, will coordinate the initiative. Robinson is a former Tennessee commissioner of health and also serves as senior pastor at St. Andrew AME Church in south Memphis.
The Healthy Shelby initiative will be funded with county tax dollars and private donations.