"Safety net" provider brings affordable physical and mental health care to Frayser

Knoxville-based Cherokee Health Systems, which operates 25 clinics throughout Tennessee, will be expanding its Memphis market presence next year with the opening of a new clinic in Frayser.

The federally qualified health center and community mental health center is the only entity of its kind in Tennessee with both designations.

“Our clinical model blends behavioral health approaches and addiction medicine into primary care,” said Cherokee CEO Dr. Dennis Freeman. “We tend to try to go where the grass is browner – areas where there is a real shortage of providers. We think we are probably needed in Memphis.”

Cherokee, which touts more than 750 employees, is a nonprofit provider of primary care, behavioral health and addiction services to more than 70,000 poor and uninsured people in Tennessee. The new clinic will open January 1 at 2574 Frayser Boulevard. 

The clinics offer a variety of comprehensive health services including primary care, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services. All of its services are available to children, adults and seniors who have coverage through private insurance plans, coverage through state programs like TennCare or CoverKids, and those who have no insurance coverage.

“We’re a safety net provider, so we see everyone on an ability to pay basis,” said Freeman.

During 2016, Cherokee served more than 3,000 school children in area school systems, filled over 125,000 prescription medications and provided 353,552 services.

The organization is also very involved with training health care providers, including psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners and family physicians.

Next year Cherokee will also be collaborating with the University of Tennessee family practice residency clinic in the Penmark Building on Poplar Avenue, and UT residents may also help out at the Cherokee clinic in Frayser.

Cherokee had previously co-operated the clinic at 2574 Frayser Boulevard with Resurrection Health, which will be leaving the site at the end of the year.

“Probably within the next few months, we’ll identify a third location for further expansion in the Memphis market,” said Freeman.

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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.