Food City supports Sevier County program for medically uninsured

Sandra ClarkOur Town Health, Sevier

Top leadership from Food City was in Sevierville, Tennessee, last week to solemnize a $100,000 donation to Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, a provider of health services to uninsured Sevier County residents.

Food City donated to the capital campaign for Mountain Hope’s new Gatlinburg Clinic. Officials said the clinic on Ski Mountain Road should be completed in June with an opening in July.

The gang’s all here to celebrate the $100,000 donation.

The April 17 event was attended by Food City’s president and CEO, Steven C. Smith; vice president for marketing Kevin Stafford; executive vice president of operations for the Knoxville division, Katie Penny; and others.

Deborah Murph, MBA, RN and executive director, along with her staff and board members, represented Mountain Hope at the Sevierville clinic, 312 Prince Street. The clinic has seen over 32,000 individual patients since opening 24 years ago.

It was founded by two women, both members of First Baptist Church of Gatlinburg:

Alyene Reese M.D. practiced medicine in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for 32 years. She retired to Gatlinburg and died March 27, 2006, at age 74. A Bible verse on her photograph in the conference room at Good Shepherd Clinic reads: “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Sue Ellen Riddle was a supervisor in the child welfare department for the Tuscaloosa Department of Human Resources for more than 30 years. A social worker, she devoted her career to bettering the lives of children in difficult and traumatic situations. As co-founder of Mountain Hope, she extended her career into volunteer work in Sevier County. She died on January 2, 2023. Deb Murph wrote: “Sue Ellen taught us the value of unwavering faith and the impact one can have on a community when following their servant’s heart. Her actions were always centered around how she could help others and never about personal recognition or gain. …”

History: In early 1999, Reese and Riddle borrowed five rooms in a local church youth building, assembled an all-volunteer staff and started Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic. The clinic now occupies a modern facility in the middle of Sevierville on land leased for $1 per year from the Sevier County school system. The building was the work of an anonymous benefactor after recruiting many vendors, according to the clinic’s website. Over the years, many individuals, churches and civic groups have contributed toward space expansion and building updates.

Julia Pearce, MPA and director of community services and quality, offered a walk through the Sevierville clinic. The clinic has 14 exam rooms and a wing dedicated to dentistry. The dental services are basic, Pearce said, with a goal of adding dentures. Relationships are crucial to fulfilling the mission. For instance, Mountain Hope works with the Sevier County Health Department to sponsor free health fairs during the year. These include health assessments and screenings, vaccinations and information.

A bulletin board at the clinic has news of special programs – written in both English and Spanish. Programs include topics like drug abuse, obesity and diabetes management. And the website has a plethora of information. Although it is unique to Sevier County, there’s an almost endless list of resources available.

Staff: A blend of paid staff and volunteers, some major players are Richard Dew M.D., the volunteer medical director; Jason Brackins PA-C, a provider; and Jeff Collart DDS, the clinic dentist.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.


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