June 1, 2007

New era dawns at Vine Hill Clinic

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Children from the Schrader Lane Child Care Center, located in the Vine Hill Community Center, welcome more than 200 guests at the celebration by singing "It's a Small World." (photo by Anne Rayner)

New era dawns at Vine Hill Clinic

Ice skating legend Scott Hamilton, left, his wife, Tracey Hamilton, Bonnie Pilon, D.S.N., and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell were among those at the celebration. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Ice skating legend Scott Hamilton, left, his wife, Tracey Hamilton, Bonnie Pilon, D.S.N., and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell were among those at the celebration. (photo by Anne Rayner)

More than 200 members of the community, local dignitaries, and Vanderbilt supporters attended a celebration last week to honor the Vine Hill Community Clinic Expansion, which serves more than 8,000 underserved individuals.

“This clinic is about making sure these kids and their families have what they need,” said Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell. “This is a very special spot, where the care given in the next weeks, months and years comes from the right place — from the heart.”

The Vine Hill Community Clinic, located on Benton Avenue near the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, is the largest clinic in the University Community Health Services (UCHS) network and is affiliated with the School of Nursing's education and research programs. Residents in surrounding neighborhoods in this medically underserved area, as well as throughout Davidson County, use the clinic to access primary care, mental health services and prenatal care.

“We are committed to serving the underserved population in our community — the homeless, the pregnant adolescent, international political refugees, disabled adults in state custody, families who do not quality for Medicaid/TennCare but who cannot afford health insurance, and the list goes on,” said Bonnie Pilon, D.S.N., who serves as UCHS acting executive director as well as senior associate dean for Faculty Practice at VUSN.

“It is important that patients have a primary care home and not have to rely on area emergency departments.”

Vine Hill currently treats about 65 scheduled patients per day with episodic illness, chronic illness, minor injuries and physicals including well-woman exams.

With the expansion, the clinic has more than doubled in size and increased its services to meet the growing needs of the community. With the additional space, managers say they will be able to handle up to 90 patients a day. With additional funding, the clinic may offer dental checkups in the future. The expansion increased the number of exam rooms from eight to 13, offices for providers and space for patient support services.

“We provide accessible, affordable, holistic care to patients throughout their lifespan,” said Terri Crutcher, M.S.N., R.N., clinical director, Primary Care and Women's Health. “Thanks to the expansion, we have added many much-needed services that will make it easier for patients to live in good health.”

The clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives. In addition to primary care and mental care services, the clinic is expanding its array of services, including midwifery care and specialty gynecological care.

The clinic serves patients from a variety of cultural backgrounds and more than 29 countries. The clinic has a Spanish language translator who assists patients with questions over the phone and who is available to translate during health care visits.

In addition to its outreach to the community, the Vine Hill Community Clinic regularly participates in research, and, with an entrenched mental health component among its services, the clinic has recently participated in a nationwide study on depression.

“Vine Hill is a model of care for the city and for the country” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of VUSN.

“Our society is only as strong as those most vulnerable among us. Vine Hill's structure shows us how advanced practice nurses are uniquely qualified to reach out to those who need it most.”

The expansion project at Vine Hill was made possible by major support from the following agencies: The Memorial Foundation, Vanderbilt University Hospital, Tracey and Scott Hamilton, VUSN, and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. The seed grant funding to open Vine Hill Community Clinic was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in 1991.