Healthy City town halls lead citizens in seeking "health care that heals"

Healthy City Town Hall Meeting was held recently at the Novel bookstore in the Laurelwood Shopping Center. The discussion centered around the perennial hot-button topic of health care.

 “This town hall was intended to give everyday people a way to understand the real forces driving American medicine and show them how to demand and get health care that truly heals for themselves, their families, and their neighbors,” said Dr. Jim Bailey, chair of Clinical Practice Committee for the Society of General Internal Medicine.

The September 16 town hall forum is part of a national tour Bailey is leading to "encourage people to join the movement to reclaim health care that heals."

Additional panelists included local physicians Dr. G. Scott Morris and Dr. Clarence Davis.

Morris is the founder and CEO of Church Health. The faith-based organization is the largest privately-funded primary care clinic in the nation. An ordained minister, he also advocates for the poor.

Davis is chief medical officer for the Memphis Health Center. Along with the Congregational Health Network, a partnership between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and roughly 400 area churches, he introduced "Walking With The Doctor" classes. The year-long educational series is centered on empowerment and wellness from ailments ranging from HIV to kidney disease.

Through their differing perspectives within the healthcare industry, the panelists addressed ways to “fix our broken health care system.”

After sharing their insights with the capacity crowd, a question and answer session was held. 

Questions about access to affordable prescriptions came up.  The panelists touched on an alternative approach, culinary medicine. The diet-based program is viewed as a lower-cost alternative to prescription medicines. A wellness-based lifestyle, as opposed to medical intervention, was also discussed.

Consensus formed among the physicians that primary care is the first step in repairing the health care system.

“Better health starts with primary care,” added Dr. Davis. “Getting everyone to make and keep an appointment to see their primary care provider will improve the health our community. In Memphis, we have affordable access points to match any budget.”

While the conversation focused on health care, the location of the event served a purpose, too.

The town hall also marked with the second printing of Bailey’s novel.

“The End of Healing: A Journey through the Underworld of American Medicine” draws from his experiences as a physician and expert in health care quality.

Like the town hall, the intention of the novel is to stir debate over the America’s health care system as well as provide insight to health care consumers.

“With all the recent debate about health reform, Americans are eager to discover the path to reclaiming their broken health care system and giving America a brighter future in the process,” said Bailey.

Dr. Bailey wasn’t the only panelist who uses the written word to promote changes.

Author of “God, Health & Happiness” and “If Your Heart is Like my Heart,” Morris’ works are reflective of his faith. They also acknowledge that doctors and the health care system overall are but one part of a wellness.

“It is my intent through my books, to show how physical health is affected by spiritual wellbeing,” said Dr. Morris.

The town hall was the first in a series Dr. Bailey plans to hold. Meetings in various cities are in the works.

“With the Healthy City Town Hall meetings, we are launching a national movement to help Americans reclaim health care that heals. We wanted to hold our inaugural event here in Memphis, and are now making plans to hold Healthy City Town Hall meetings across the country," he said.

During these stops, he plans to once again draw on experts in the communities.

“We are currently working to set up our next event in Nashville, followed by Oxford, MS — and then we are planning to visit other cities like Lexington, Boston and Washington DC — all to give people an opportunity to be part of the discussion about the future of healthcare.”

Emily Adams Keplinger contributed to this article. She is a freelance writer and editor based in Memphis, TN. She has worked as a multimedia journalist, serving as a writer and an editor for print and digital publications, as well as social media.

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