Cherokee Fills Void in Pediatric Care at County Health Department

Some parents have been concerned about pediatric care at the Knox County Health Department with the pending retirement of Dr. John Washer. Finding doctors interested in the public health service is problematic, given the salaries involved.

The department has contracted with Cherokee Health Systems to take over management of the pediatric program and they will provide the doctors to continue the care—in the same place.

Cherokee Health Systems operates 20 sites in 14 counties providing health care in areas often underserved with health care.

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Comments » 1

tvhriverredd writes:

Interesting to read that the agreement with Cherokee Health Systems is considered "a done deal". I don't believe it has actually come before the County Commission for approval.This deal seems to be one made in the back room, lacking transparency. Employees of the clinic were asked to name two individuals to sit in on the meetings with CHS; those chosen by their peers have not been included in any meetings. Several questions need to be asked and answered by the Knox County commissioners before the ink dries on this agreement, questions about the process and the need for such a move. Lack of a doctor, not making money, and inefficiency are three reasons cited by the management of the clinic for the change. What's the story?

A replacement for Dr. Washer has not been found as the search has not happened; to the best of my knowledge, no call for interested applicants was issued. Which journals were ads placed in? Were ads sent to area practices or practitioners prior to the letting of the bid to provide services? There are at least two locals who are interested in the position. The last time the position was advertised, the qualified applicant had to be a public health official. Who at Cherokee will fulfill that role?
When has making a profit been considered a mission of public health? The question should be whether the current clinic delivers high value care for the money spent. Cherokee has taken over the adult primary care for the county already. Has any one assessed the quality of care and expenditure of funds since they took over?
The current staff at KCHD Pediatrics Primary Care Clinic see nearly double the number of patients per provider as compared to the current Cherokee Health System providers. How is it cost saving for more people to see fewer patients?
These are just a few of the questions Knox County residents need to ask the County Commissioners before the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic, and the county-owned facility out of which it operates, are taken over by a private organization. As more and more individuals are finding themselves and their families financially challenged, it seems like a poor time to take away a well-functioning, highly-regarded primary care facility which offers needed services to the community.

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