Valley Medical to Bring Primary and Urgent Care to Downtown Knoxville

Valley Medical Downtown will bring both primary care and urgent care services to downtown. The new location will be in rear of the Phoenix Building at 418 South Gay Street, the space previously occupied by Covenant Medical Convenient Care. It will have a direct entrance from the Promenade, with available parking just outside the door in the Prominade Garage.

The location will be the second for Valley Medical, owned and operated by Nurse Practitioner Sandra Bond. The original location opened last May in Jacksboro. I met with Ms. Bond to learn more about her, the clinic, and the services that we might expect.

Ms. Bond is originally from LaFollette but, more recently, lived in Knoxville for twenty years. She has now moved to Andersonville to be more-or-less between the two. Her parents were both nurses and she wanted to do the same from an early age. They convinced her to do otherwise so she got her degree in psychology and worked at Peninsula Psychiatric Hospital for a bit. “I quickly learned that in order to best serve patients, I needed to return to school to study nursing.” She got a degree and then a master’s degree in nursing and became a Nurse Practitioner.

Tennessee allows nurse practitioners to own and operate an independent practice. Her collaborative physician is Charles Tessier. She worked in primary care, urgent care, oncology, and “seven different hospitals.” She found that working for large corporations she was “micromanaged to the point that I had a ten-minute slot to see a patient.” She said it wasn’t workable to her. “There were a couple of days I saw over one hundred patients in a day . . . that’s not best for folks.”

Her mother, also a Nurse Practitioner, had a pursued a model that answered the dilemma: Open your own clinic. Given that she was from the LaFollette/Jacksboro area, she decided to open a clinic there. She had practiced in a clinic there for two years and had a patient base of people who knew her, some of whom asked her when she was coming back. She opened last May and she just hired a second provider. “The first month we opened we saw over 300 patients and now we’re seeing anywhere between 50 and 80 people a day. That office operates with a both herself and a PA seeing patients.

She hadn’t necessarily plan to open another clinic so soon, but when a friend, who is a retired pharmacist, heard that a new clinic was being sought to come downtown, he suggested she look into it to see if it was a fit. She was hesitant, but she looked at the spot and fell in love with the place and with Ron Sherril. She investigated the previous clinic a bit, learning about their challenges. She heard positive things, as well as some of the challenges. She said that the location feels right.

She feels more equipped to handle some of those challenges, such as making successful referrals for chronic issues among the local homeless population, though she anticipates treating them, as well. “I volunteer with Wallace Memorial and also Ram Clinic. There are so many resources that people are unaware of for eye care, dental care, free glasses and more.” She also sees a great upside for being downtown.

Sandra Bond, Valley Medical Clinic Downtown, 428 South Gay Street, Suite 103, Knoxville, March 2023

The clinic will offer primary care, which allows them to manage chronic disease, as well as episodic care, and making referrals to specialists as needed. And she’ll operate it her way. “With all of our new primary care patients we devote one hour to get their history, medications, and do an exam.” They also plan to do online check-in or in person check-in with an Ipad for episodic visits. It will give them an appointment time.

The office will initially be staffed with one nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, and a receptionist. She plans to be in this office one day a week. She said they will identify a single person to be the regular practitioner so people get to know their provider. She plans to be open roughly normal business hours on weekdays, but she’s open to making the hours earlier or later as needed.

She said they may extend the hours into the evening one day a week. She also said that long-range, they’d like to be open seven days a week with a weekend provider. She definitely plans to make the hours steady and predictable, and open at lunch, which she has identified as one of the problems at the previous clinic. They also hope to offer classes as needed, such as classes on diabetic care. There is conference space upstairs that would work for that.

The clinic will also do labs with return times of twenty four hours and can provide the range of normal services you would expect. They will not have an Xray machine, so they will refer for that. They offer allergy testing and the treatments on site, as well as hormone replacement for men and women. They accept all major forms of insurance, except Tri-Care and they are working on that. They will accept Medicaid and Medicare and “we have one of the lowest self-pay prices at $65 for a visit and $35 for labs.”

They hope to be open for business by May 1.