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History of Cherokee Health Systems

From humble beginnings as the Mental Health Center of Morristown in 1960, Cherokee Health Systems (CHS) has grown to become a comprehensive health services organization touching tens of thousands of lives every year throughout East Tennessee. Over the past 50 years, the need for quality health care in this region has prompted the expansion of Cherokee's scope of services and the range of staff expertise to include not only behavioral health services, but medical and dental programs as well. Today CHS operates in multiple locations in the Eastern part of Tennessee. More than 500 professional and support staff members, including psychologists, physicians, dentists, social workers, nurses, pharmacists and specialists in public health, comprise the ranks of this health services corporation. A wide array of comprehensive primary care and mental health programs and services is encompassed beneath the umbrella of Cherokee Health Systems.

1959 Agency was founded by the Federated Women's Clubs.
1960 Services began as the Mental Health Center of Morristown on the second floor of the Bank of Commerce in downtown Morristown.
1971 The name of the agency changed to Cherokee Guidance Center, to de-stigmatize mental illness.
1975 One day a week satellite clinics were opened in Tazewell and Newport.
1978 The agency went back to using mental health in its name and became Cherokee Mental Health Center.
1979 School Psychology services were established.
1980 Outreach services to primary care began.
1982 The Five Rivers Services, HUD housing to be used for clients who need structure and supervision was established with a home in Morristown and one in Tazewell.
1983 The Clinch Mountain Regional Health Center Corporation was initiated as an amalgamation of Cherokee’s services and the Blaine Medical and Dental Board.
1984 The first primary care clinic was established and located in Blaine.
1987 The Union-Grainger Primary Care (a Federally Qualified Health Center) management contract began for the Washburn and Maynardville clinics. A primary care office was established in Knoxville.
1989 Cherokee was designated the “carve out” Behavioral Health Organization managed care provider in East Tennessee for Healthsource.
1993 The Talbott building was opened and the agency changed its name to Cherokee Health Systems (CHS) to reflect its comprehensive mission of integrated primary and behavioral health care.
1994 TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid waiver program, was launched. CHS was the Behavioral Health Organization under TennSource, a TennCare Managed Care Organization. The newly renovated 5th Street office and a new office in Rutledge were opened.
1995 A Bean Station primary care office was established in collaboration with Lakeway Regional Hospital.
1996 A Sevier County primary care clinic and a primary care office in Claiborne County were opened.
1997 Construction began on a new Maynardville office; a West Knoxville office opened; CHS was named “Business of the Year” in Grainger County.
1999 Primary care was added to the 5th Street office; a new Sevier County building was constructed.
2000 A behavioral health office was opened in Blount County; the Talbott facility was renovated to allow for enhanced children’s services with the addition of a pediatric practice.
2001 New behavioral health offices opened in Jefferson County adjacent to Jefferson Memorial Hospital; a new integrated behavioral health and primary care office opened in Loudon County; CHS received a $1 million Community Access Program grant to link area safety net primary care providers through an integrated service delivery model; the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health awarded CHS a two-year planning grant to design a model of integrated care for children and their families; new facilities were opened in Newport and New Tazewell; CHS, in cooperation with the City of Rutledge, doubled the size of the clinic in Rutledge.
2002 Notice of a three-year Rural Health Outreach grant was received that funds outreach and clinical services for the growing Hispanic populations in Grainger, Hamblen and Jefferson Counties.
2003 CHS was awarded a Bureau of Primary Health Care grant enabling the evolvement of Rutledge, Blaine and Bean Station practices into comprehensive community health centers; moved into a newly renovated office in Blount County to accommodate the growing behavioral health practice; opened an integrated primary care and behavioral health office in Mechanicsville; opened a behavioral health office in a suite in the Children’s Hospital clinic on Dutch Valley Road.
2005 CHS was designated a Migrant Health Center by the Bureau of Primary Health Care.
2006 Opened a discount pharmacy in the Loudon County office. Opened a new facility in Knoxville on Western Avenue that provides a blend of primary care and behavioral health services and houses a discount pharmacy. Cherokee held its first Integrated Care Conference with participants from community health centers and community mental health centers from a dozen different states.
2007 Knox County Health Department transitioned their primary care services to Cherokee's Center City location. Opened a primary care clinic in McMinn County. Became the East Tennessee Center for Meharry's Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Began providing healthcare homes for uninsured Knox Countians with United Way funding. The Partnership of Cherokee Health Systems and UT Medical Center was designated the East Tennessee Center of Excellence for Services to Children in, or at risk for, State custody. The Bureau of Primary Health Care awarded Cherokee an expansion grant for medical services. The 2007 Metro Planning Commission in Knoxville gave CHS one of two awards in their Office/Commercial/Industrial category. CHS was presented with the Best Practice in Primary Care Award by the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine.
2008 Took ownership of Good Samaritan Community Health Center in Blount County. Began offering primary care services via telemedicine in Hamblen County. Opened a school-based clinic in Union County. Opened 17 school-based clinics in Sevier County using telemedicine technology. CHS was awarded a grant by the Bureau of Primary Health Care to open an integrated services clinic targeting the homeless population in Knox County.
2009 Tennessee State Legislature and the Board of Pharmacy approved Cherokee to operate a Telepharmacy pilot program at two locations. Opened the Broadway Clinic to serve the homeless. Conducted the Second Smoky Mountain Integrated Care Conference. CHS was recognized by Computer World Honors for its telemedicine programs.
2010 Opened an office in the east side of Knoxville and a school-based clinic at Rutledge Middle School. Conducted three Integrated Care Training Academies for safety net providers from two dozen different states. Moved into a newly constructed facility in McMinn County. Merged Cherokee's Blount County mental health and primary care practices and moved into renovated space in Alcoa.


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