Resurrection Health works to bring health care access to all of Frayser with a new clinic that brings primary care services to more of the community.
A community with an estimated 50,000 residents, Frayser is like its own city. But this little city, of course, is a Memphis neighborhood where some 30,000 of the residents of the 38127 ZIP code are considered low income.
And more than 75 percent of those 30,000 residents reportedly don’t regularly access health care. There are only three primary care offices in Frayser, and the nearest hospital is about 10 miles from the heart of the neighborhood.
Resurrection Health joined the Frayser neighborhood in February to do its part to reverse those health care access woes. It is a faith-based, evangelical health service organization that works to meet the primary care needs of underserved communities. In Frayser, that occurs at 2574 Frayser Blvd.
A second location is in the area at 2150 Whitney Ave. In all, Resurrection Health has four locations in the greater Memphis area.
“We are Christian disciples who believe in using health to create true health,” said Dr. Alain Rodriguez, head physician at the Frayser location . “We concentrate on spiritual health with true health. Through that we hope that there will be a true renewing of our patients – spiritually, socially and physically.”
The physicians and staff provide a broad spectrum of primary care including focus areas in prenatal care, pediatrics, women’s health, HIV/AIDS care, and adult and geriatric medicine.
Resurrection’s staff and doctors live in the neighborhood to better understand patient needs.
“We put our clinics in areas where there are no doctors for the most part, traditionally speaking,” Rodriguez said. “There are areas where patients are healthier. And those are places where there are more doctors.”
When patients visit one of the Resurrection Health clinics service begins with how they are treated. Rodriguez stressed the importance that is placed on ensuring all patients are treated with compassion, no matter his or her circumstance.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing,” he said. “We want them to experience grace and love from registration or nurses, and certainly clinicians.”
That focus continues with compassionate medical care. The clinic has an obstetrician on staff as well as pediatrics and adult care. A couple of surgeons work at the American Way site where Frayser patients can be referred.
Primary care services are the focus, but Rodriguez said the No. 1 killer of Americans – heart disease – is an especially important focus. So the clinicians keep an extra eye on major risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking. One of the major ways Resurrection Health looks to reverse poor health in Frayser is by tackling obesity and diet-related issues.
“We live here in the South and sometimes it seems hard to be healthy in Memphis,” he said. “If we can stop tobacco smoking and obesity we will be a healthier Frayser.”
In Frayser, primary care is serving on the front lines of medicine, Rodriguez said. The fight is against heart disease as well as mental health
Of course having a desire to stop those issues that lead to heart disease and being able to do it easily doesn’t always align, particularly in a neighborhood such as Frayser where vehicle access is an issue.
“Most people have cars in the city but in Frayser most of our neighbors don’t have cars,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s walking distance for people to come to clinics so we put clinics where they can walk to them.”
Resurrection Health’s co-founders, Drs. Rick Donlon and David Pepperman, previously founded Christ Community Health Services. Today, Christ Community also serves the Frayser neighborhood from its location at 969 Frayser Blvd.
Another way Resurrection Health works in underserved communities is through the Resurrection Health Family Medicine Residency program, which attracts health care talent from across the U.S. to Memphis where they live and work in communities such as Frayser. These residents will go on to continue serving marginalized and medically underserved neighborhoods in an effort to revive the declining population of primary care doctors in urban communities.
There are a couple of ways that Frayser residents can visit Resurrection Health for services. For insured patients it’s much like visiting any primary care clinic. For those who don’t have insurance there are ways to gain service such as bring a recent paycheck, food stamps or letter showing income. Having someone vouch for a person’s job situation also works.
Patients who are below 40 percent of the poverty level pay $40 and those above pay $60.
A new program at Frayser is Get Fit, a clinic that counsels obese patients on ways to reverse the trend. When a patient visits the clinic, he or she is then referred to Get Fit for counseling.
The program teaches patients how to exercise to his or her limits, meaning workouts are tailored to fit a person’s ability. It also analyzes a person’s diet, including use of a food diary.
“It promotes self-discovery,” Rodriguez said. “We will continue the program. It’s long term. We just started it and hope it takes off. This will be the equivalent of doing surgery with preventative care. My dream is to get the whole community together.”