By Cillea Houghton
NASHVILLE, TN — As Nashville General Hospital celebrates its 128th anniversary in 2018, it’s sharing an important message with the community: Nashville General Hospital is here to stay. The hospital opened in 1890 and has since served as a place where residents who do not have insurance or are unable to pay can still receive the healthcare services they need.
“I think every day, there is something about General that we all know is special. We know is part of a broader world,” said Dr. Jan Brandes, chair of the Hospital Authority. “Our priority will always be to provide extraordinary patient care for those who come to us in need, regardless of their ability to pay.” “Every patient that we serve is another step towards improving the overall health outcomes of Nashville,” Nashville General Hospital CEO Dr. Joseph Webb said, calling it a “new era” for the institution. “Nashvillians believe that equitable access to healthcare is a very vital part of the continuing success of Nashville.”
The hospital and its staff were uncertain of its future until they received a $17.1 million subsidy from metro government to support the hospital through the end of its current budget cycle, allowing its doors to remain open.
“The mayor is here to say today that he’s committed to supporting this institution to the best of his ability and to provide high quality healthcare services to those in need regardless of insurance status,” said Senior Legislative Advisor Freda Player-Peters on behalf of Mayor David Briley, who was visiting with the families of the victims of the Waffle House shooting at the time of the ceremony. “Keeping our residents healthy is key to a thriving, resilient city and the ability to have a safety net hospital is a critical resource in our work to promote better healthcare.”
Though Nashville ranks number 42 among 50 metropolitan cities in worst health outcomes, one of Nashville General’s most significant accomplishments is the implication of the chronic care model that tackles the city’s serious issue with chronic diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart failure and diabetes through the Patient-Centered Medical Home that has received the highest accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
“We’re seeing our patients now move away from seeking emergency care on a frequent basis to becoming more active in the prevention and health care instead of sick care, and with that comes a reduction in cost,” Webb explained. “Our goal has been to transition those patients into the lowest cost setting and we’ve been effective with doing that.”
In its 128-year history, Nashville General has served as a safety net for those on low income, but still require quality healthcare. Brandes said the hospital will continue to fill that role as it moves forward, planning to expand the medical home program, as well as become an index hospital for Meharry Medical College.
“[Maya] Angelou says ‘that ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned,’” Brandes quoted. “That is the beauty of what Nashville General has meant to this community.”