State health support program launches in Knoxville

State health support program launches in Knoxville

Posted:
Community members gathered for the ribbon cutting Saturday at the brand new Neighborhood Connections office off Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in East Knoxville. Community members gathered for the ribbon cutting Saturday at the brand new Neighborhood Connections office off Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in East Knoxville.
Neighborhood Connections, the first of its kind in the state, works to help at-risk locals make the most of their health. Neighborhood Connections, the first of its kind in the state, works to help at-risk locals make the most of their health.
Free flu shots were given at today's community event. Free flu shots were given at today's community event.
Knoxville's Neighborhood Connections is the first of three locations in the state. The program will expand to Nashville and Memphis is just a few months. Knoxville's Neighborhood Connections is the first of three locations in the state. The program will expand to Nashville and Memphis is just a few months.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A statewide program aimed at helping Tennesseans be as healthy as they can be kicked off Saturday in Knoxville.

Neighborhood Connections, the first of its kind in the state, works to help at-risk locals make the most of their health.

Community members gathered for the ribbon cutting Saturday at the brand new Neighborhood Connections office off Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in East Knoxville.

"They're doing a real good thing. We really need this here," said Adaisha Allen of Knoxville.

It's a health and community service support program launched by UnitedHealthcare, focused on at-risk TennCare members.

At-risk means many of them have serious health complications and often end up in the ER because they're not getting proper regular care.

Neighborhood Connections outreach workers will be in the community locating these residents and helping them get on track.

One of the biggest problems they see is people not fully understanding their health coverage.

"They're not getting the health that they need through their regular resources and a lot of times it's because they just don't know," said Beth Haren, site director of Knoxville's Neighborhood Connections.

Workers will help navigate benefits, giving them one-on-one support to help improve their health.

"We literally walk them, holding their hands, straight into their first appointment at times," said Haren.

They'll also help coordinate shelter, food and transportation to and from the doctor's office. Lack of transportation is another common problem for at-risk residents.

"They can't get to their doctor's appointments. We will try to arrange that and break down the obstacles," said Haren.

East Knoxville residents like Allen say the program is badly needed in the area.

"A lot of people in this community wait until things get bad and then they finally come out and say something. Most people don't come out and actually try to help out people and try to find people. We do need that," said Allen.

Knoxville's Neighborhood Connections is the first of three locations in the state. The program will expand to Nashville and Memphis is just a few months.

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