It’s been more than a year since Eddie Mannis announced his plans to bring a pharmacy and a walk-in clinic to the Phoenix building on Gay Street. In October of last year the Phoenix Pharmacy opened its doors in temporary quarters and just last month it moved into its permanent quarters. As of Monday, April 4, the second part of that plan comes to fruition with the opening of Covenant Health’s Downtown Convenient Care center in the rear of the Phoenix Building.
The center will offer downtown residents, workers and visitors the opportunity to receive treatment for a variety of minor illnesses and injuries. Allergy treatments and flu shots will be offered, as well as sports physicals and new-hire drug screening. They accept most major insurance plans.
The clinic should be a great new asset to residents who won’t have to drive to medical care for minor issues and for downtown workers who will be able to drop into a clinic while downtown, if necessary, and thus not have to stop on their way home if they live outside the center city.
Another group I hadn’t considered until I met with Jodi Harris, Physician Marketing Coordinator, and Stacy Kaufmann, Director of Operations, is the downtown visitor or tourist. I’ve been on vacation with my family and needed minor medical help. It’s not always easy to find and certainly hasn’t been until now in our downtown. With a pharmacy next door, the pair could be a real help to anyone caught in that situation.
The supervising clinician is Dr. Jeff McMichael, a Knoxville native and former UT football player. After his obtaining his medical degree from the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine, he and his wife ultimately settled back into Knoxville, “. . . because we love Knoxville, we love the lakes and mountains and especially love the people.” After twenty-six years of practice, “I’m most concerned about preventative health. I try to live what I preach by trying to eat right and exercising routinely. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to extend my care to downtown Knoxvillians. I want to see it continue to grow and thrive and help provide quality health care . . . ”
You’ll find the clinic staffed with a a receptionist and one of two clinicians at any given time:
Tiffany Marshall, nurse practitioner, is from Kingsport, though her husband is from Knoxville. When not working she, her husband and nine-year-old son enjoy UT sports, hiking, camping and backpacking. She says she loves the downtown atmosphere and has wanted to work here to provide needed services.
Natalie Caylor, Physician’s Assistant and Knoxville native, has degrees from UT and LMU. She’s also worked downtown before, at Lellyett and Rogers, Tomato Head, Pilot Light and as a Legal Assistant. “In PA school I never would have made it without Old City Java . . . the friends I have that live and work in this community made it possible for me to be where I am now. I go to Haiti several times a year with a local non-profit to help with a medical clinic, and I have done aid work all over the world, but . . . I always look forward to coming home . . . and I am so excited to participate in a small way in caring for the downtown Knoxville community.”
Covenant Health also owns Fort Sanders Hospital and nine other facilities. They are the largest employer in the area and have 1500 affiliated physicians from about 100 different area medical practices. As the parent company of Fort Sanders Hospital, they consider themselves already involved in downtown health care and wanted to extend that to the center city. This will be the first walk-in clinic they’ve operated directly, so it is a slight paradigm shift in their business model.
In an effort to get the word out, each downtown resident should receive, via mail, a refrigerator magnet with contact information for the clinic. Additionally, while they will open on Monday, they will host a ribbon cutting at 3:30 PM Tuesday to which everyone is invited, followed by an open house with a look at the new offices. The entire staff, including Dr. McMichael, will be present at the event.
I hope downtown will embrace this new medical option. The only way services like this one can continue is if they are financially viable in the long-run. We have the beginning of a system of medical services downtown with a dentist, a pharmacy and now a clinic. I’m hopeful that the support of downtown residents and workers will encourage additional medical professionals to consider downtown as a viable location for their practice.