By Monique Gooch
NASHVILLE, TN — The Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center has launched its year-long 55th anniversary of providing health care in Middle Tennessee.
The clinic provides access to quality health care to over 18,000 patients each year with service from three locations: Nashville, Smyrna and Clarksville.
The celebration was held at Urban Hangout Suite Twelve 25 on Meridian Street in East Nashville.
“Tonight is to kick off our 55th anniversary celebration for the year. We wanted to kick it off in the community and suite 1225 has been so gracious to host this for us,” CEO Katina Beard said. “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this. So, I’m going to say it’s a success.”
Several of the Matthew Walker staff are friends with the owner of Suite Twelve 25 (Valeria Lopez), “we came over for lunch one day and [Valeria] helped us think it all through and map it all out. It’s actually her one-year anniversary and our 55th, so it just worked out.”
Beard said that celebrating 55 years is amazing. “It’s amazing to know we’ve been here for 55 years serving this community and continuing Dr. Walker’s legacy. We’ve been so blessed to provide the service in the way he envisioned. His comprehensive model has continued for 55 years.” Katina Beard has been CEO for eight years, but she has been before on the staff for 25 years.
The night consisted of staff, board members including Board chair Marvin Evans, several community partners, and friends of Matthew Walker. “We were worried about not having enough people. We thought this would be a little gathering, but it has been a great turnout.” The celebration was full of mingling, hors d’oeuvres, and people coming together to kick off the 55th anniversary. “We’re having our Legacy Breakfast on March 30 and we’re going to try to do some things in our other counties in Smyrna and Clarksville,” Beard said.
There will be more upcoming events in the near future. “We really want to support our community. I’ve had quite a few people say they didn’t even know [Suite Twelve 25] was here, which is the point. It’s supposed to work like that, we invited you out to this business and they’ll come back and visit and support Suite Twelve 25 and Matthew Walker. So, it’s a win for everyone.”
Beard said the Breakfast will be the first one since Covid and we’re hosting it at night in case people have to work in the morning or have difficulty finding childcare. We moved it to the evening just this year.”
As a reminder for those who have never heard of the Matthew Walker Center Beard said, “We provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the community regardless of an individual insurance status. Our services are comprehensive, meaning when you come to us you’re going to have an opportunity to see a behavioral health person, oral health provider, a nutritionist, etc. Your coming into a comprehensive model of care.”
Dr. Walker himself was a man before his time. “He understood why the environment needs to embrace and care for each other. Raising the knowledge and visibility about Dr. Walker and what he did: in training African American doctors, helping the freedom riders during the Civil Rights era, helping to keep people healthy and providing surgeries on people at a time when people couldn’t afford it, or operating on non-African American patients as a ghost doctor because they didn’t want to be operated on by a Black man, or appointing Dr. Dorothy Brown as the first female resident when no one else wanted to take a female resident surgeon. He was the very first one. I think to honor Dr. Walker and others that have come before us and laid this work so we can do this work, in whatever genre or field we’re in, find that icon that paved the way for us. That’s the least we can do during this month of Black history,” said Beard.
If anyone has questions about the Matthew Walker Clinic Beard encourages people to come in and talk to one of the staff people, look at the facility and read about them on the web, and ask people about their Matthew Walker Health Center experience. “A lot of people have said, ‘Matthew Walker saved my life.’ They couldn’t get health care somewhere else because of their insurance status, or they went somewhere else and were misdiagnosed and they came to us and our doctors we able to help them.”
Beard ended with, “Swing by Matthew Walker and check us out and let us be your health care provider.