Two mainstays of the Memphis community — the Methodist Le Bonheur hospital
system and nearly 400 local churches — have teamed up for an innovative
program that keeps church members healthy while reducing health-care
costs. If not actually made in heaven, it’s a match that has
significantly benefited all parties. Other health-care systems are
Methodist says 70 percent of its patients belong to churches.
To help people get the care they need when they need it, the system
assigns hospital staff, appropriately called “navigators,’’ to work with
volunteer liaisons at area churches that have joined the health
system’s Congregational Health Network. When a member of one of these
congregations is admitted to the hospital, the navigator notifies the
liaison. The liaison then plans a visit, if the member wishes, “so they
have a support structure, not just the nurse and doctor,” says Valerie
Murphy, the liaison for her small church of six families in Millington, a
rural area north of Memphis.