New Mid-South clinic helps kids from missing yearly check-ups

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Just north of downtown Memphis is Frayser, a once thriving post World War II community.

According to the Frayser Community Development Association, the median income, in 1970, was 110 percent of the area’s median.

In 2019 the household median income in Frayser was just under $30,000 with nearly 17 percent of households earning less than $10,000 a year.

Charlie Caswell who grew up in this community is a pastor and executive director of Legacy of Legends, a Frayser non-profit that helps families in this community overcome traumatic and adverse experiences that often stem from poverty such as access to adequate healthcare.

“If we’re not doing something now we will continue this cycle of the unaddressed obesity and diabetes and the other health issues that have been hurting many in this community for years,” said Caswell.

In May, the non-profit opened a health and wellness center, targeting children and offering an important yearly check-up known as a well-child visit.

Pediatricians suggest children 3 to 18 years of age should get a comprehensive check-up for things like preventive care exams and immunizations.

“The other component is looking at for instance how they’re developing? How they’re doing in school, whether or not they have any indications of delays,” said Dr. Sachin Jogal also known as Dr. Sach.

He is the center’s pediatrician.

He knows just how important it is for children to get these yearly check-ups.

According to LeBonheur’s general pediatric Clinic, out of the hospital’s 1,048 patients in Frayser’s 38127 zip code, 863 are overdue for a check-up according to their June report.

That adds up to only about 18 percent of their children are up to date on their check-ups.

Tequala Isom was nearly one of those parents who missed getting her children to the doctor.

“So transportation was an issue,” said Isom.

Due to COVID-19 her doctor, located in Frayser, scheduled her 3 sons at a location in East Memphis to keep capacity low.

Making a trip across town without a car is difficult for Isom.

“They brought me here to this center which is in the neighborhood and all my 3 boys was able to be seen in one day,” said Isom.” “It took a lot of pressure off and let me know that you’re not in this alone, you know so there is help. There is resources.”

The “why” behind a child’s missed appointment is this program’s specialty.

With each visit there are four stages of care: physical health, mental health, social services and a healthcare navigator, who helps with understanding a child’s health insurance and reconnecting families to their primary care physician.

“I think that’s a very valuable piece because a lot of these parents don’t know how to navigate through systems in which that deter them from going or they’ll run into a roadblock and say hey just forget about it. and I’m not going to go,” said Caswell.

So twice a month the clinic is open.

The only problem is, they’re not coming.

The program has only assisted a handful of families.

“I mean we’re new to doing the health and wellness capacity, but I don’t think people know and I think for opportunities that you all can share this with the community that people know we have a resource like this right here in the Frayser community,” said Caswell.

Caswell says it’s not just Frayser children that are hurting.

According to Tenncare in 2019 about 79 percent of Shelby County children received their Early and Periodic Screening visit.

That’s the highest rate in 4 years, but it’s unclear how the 2020 pandemic might affect those numbers.

Caswell says he can’t help but to think of the more than 20 percent of children on Tenncare in Shelby county not getting a yearly comprehensive exam.

“Our hope for this is that we can duplicate this or others can see what we’re doing in this inner city community and duplicate it in their communities,” said Caswell. “Not just here in Memphis but hopefully all around the world.”

For now the focus is on this downtown adjacent community and providing a valuable resource for those who could really use it.

If you want to take advantage of this free comprehensive exam, the clinic is open every 2nd and 4th Saturday from 1-5pm at Impact Church on Clifton Avenue.

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