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ETSU College of Nursing celebrates 30th anniversary of Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center

MOUNTAIN CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center is celebrating 30 years of providing health care to rural Johnson County and its neighboring communities.
The nurse-managed clinic was established to fill a need in a community that in the late 1980s had experienced the closure of their local hospital.
“Community leaders, including members of the Johnson County Hospital board of directors, approached ETSU’s Division of Health Sciences about providing health care to their population as there was no evening, weekend or emergency health care available,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of the ETSU College of Nursing. “The College of Nursing answered the call, along with the ETSU Department of Family Medicine, and over the next year worked with these community leaders and received help from the prisoners at the local prison to paint, clean, and move furniture in order to open the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center on Sept. 17, 1990.”
Initial funding in the amount of $176,500 came from the First Tennessee Community Health Agency in July 1990 and covered the expenses for the first year of operation, especially to defray the costs of serving the underserved and uninsured.
Less than a month after opening, the clinic achieved distinction and certification as a rural community health clinic (RHC) – the first in the nation to be administered by a College of Nursing.
The clinic first opened in a space at the vacant Johnson County Hospital. Community leaders and the Johnson County Commission provided equipment, supplies, utilities, and security through the Johnson County Hospital board. When a regional health care system leased the hospital space to reopen as a critical access hospital in 1991, the clinic was listed in the lease in order to maintain their space in the building. For a short period of time, the clinic was in two trailers provided by the Johnson County Health Department while the hospital and the new space were renovated.
Throughout the years, the clinic has partnered with local businesses and health care professionals, and clinic staff has participated in health fairs, civic groups and school events.
“The clinic has a strong history of community support, and community involvement was critical to its development and maintenance,” said Nehring. “Dr. Patricia Vanhook, recently associate dean for practice and community partnerships in the College of Nursing, and other ETSU leaders have also supported and facilitated its growth over the years.”
As a rural, nurse-managed clinic with interprofessional collaboration, the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center has connected to the community to meet the primary and acute care needs of its patients. Its services include health care provided by nursing faculty/staff nurse practitioners and nursing students, interprofessional student home visits, clinical experiences for nursing students and other interprofessional students, a collaborative practice contract with ETSU Family Medicine, and specific nursing-led programs for the community to raise awareness of diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
A Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions, grant of $1.1 million in 2000 over five years provided much-needed funding for the support of the clinic and focused on behavioral health as well as primary care to the people of Mountain City.
“Our Mountain City team led by Sheila Cooke, center manager, and I are pleased to be celebrating 30 years of service,” said Dr. Roslyn Robinson, ETSU Health CNO and associate dean of practice and community partnerships at ETSU College of Nursing. “We thank all our loyal patients; we appreciate your support as we wouldn’t have survived for 30 years without you. We hope that this celebration will be the start of even more years of service to come.”
Located inside the Johnson County Community Hospital at 1901 South Shady St., the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center is open six days a week and offers a sliding fee schedule to ensure access for individuals without insurance. To learn more, call 423-727-1150.