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Critically Ill: Healthcare in TN Working Towards a Better Prognosis

Not too long ago, State Senator Shane Reeve’s office sent out the results from a study they had just completed on the state of health in Tennessee. Their diagnosis: Not good.


Tennessee ranks above average in diabetes, poor mental health, low weight babies, infant mortality, arthritis, obesity, depression, hypertension, lung cancer, number of smokers, and heart attacks. Childhood obesity is the highest in the nation. Opioid prescriptions and usage is third highest in the country.

Part of the problem is poor access to healthcare. Part of it is bad eating and health habits. Part of it is a need for more public education about healthy lifestyles. As Reeves said in his email, the state is starting to work on the problem, but it is going to be a long road.

Of all fifty states, Tennessee ranks 43 in life expectancy. And yet one third of every dollar in the Tennessee budget in 2018 went to healthcare, to the tune of five billion dollars. While the state can help, a lot of the problem is living a dangerous lifestyle. We eat poorly. We don’t aren’t active physically.

And sometimes, like children, we just don’t listen to what is good for us. Some of the problem is that times have changed. Things we used to think were okay to do or eat, are really not. Every see an advertisement from the 1950s about smoking? Old habits are hard to break.

Many of us grew up eating fried foods and vegetables with all of the nutrients cooked out of them, dripping in bacon fat. And then we quit moving around, adopting the current sedentary way of life, which technology makes easier.

Getting people healthy again is going to mean changing a way of life. Changing a way of life is a lot harder that passing a few laws.


There are a number of businesses and organizations that offer opportunities to take personal responsibility for getting yourself and your family on the road to a better way of life. They offer articles, classes, and seminars to provide the public with information on how to go about making changes while living in this crazy busy world that we live in.

Wellness Center

The Wellness Center was established in 1986 to provide staff, patients,individuals and corporations with a place that provides wellness activities, fitness testing and evaluation, group exercise classes, post treatment programs, nutrition counseling, and wellness education and training.

The Wellness Center is staffed by registered nurses, exercise physiologists, respiratory therapists, and registered dietitians. According to their website. “The entire staff is committed to helping individuals make positive lifestyle changes.” Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., Friday 5:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

Focus on Men’s Health

Murfreesboro Medical Center celebrated National Men’s Health month in June by providing several blog posts targeted to men to educate them on the importance of making sure their health is in check.

“We understand that not everyone enjoys going to the doctor, and often we see men push off regular health visits more frequently than women,” said Lauren Knox, Director of Marketing.

Here is a snap shot of some of the most vital services offered to men (and women) to ensure overall health. MMC offers over 20 specialties and 80 physicians with services for men (and women) of all ages.

First, Knox says you need to know your numbers. Make sure to get an annual physical to check blood pressure, cholesterol, sugars, and other vital labs. Be aware of what the results to these tests mean.

Knowing these numbers early may prevent chronic diseases later in life. Second, get vaccinated. Staying current on vaccines is vital to your health and the overall health of your family and loved ones. These include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Pertussis, and an annual Flu Shot.

For those over 50, the next step is to get a colonoscopy. Early detection of colon cancer saves lives. With a one in 20 chance of developing colon cancer, screenings are vital to health.

Lastly, Knox says that for those men who work outside or are sun lovers, get skin cancer screenings.

Schedule a yearly skin cancer check with a dermatologist and have he or she take a look at any moles, or spots that may have changed. Be sure to wear SPF 30 or better sun lotion, reapplying every two hours.

Knows About Babies

From the time they opened, StoneCrest Medical Center has concentrated on well baby care. Over that period, they have increased the size of their birthing facilities, and increased the level of care. They strive to make the surroundings feel like home, and make mom and her family feel comfortable and supported.

Offering a series of classes to parents to be, these classes cover everything from a tour of the maternity facilities, to lessons on the birth process, to breast feeding. While most babies are born healthy, sometimes they are born prematurely or with health issues and need special attention. StoneCrest upgraded their Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit facilities a few years ago to make sure that the northern part of Rutherford County had some of the best treatments available so mother and child could stay in the same hospital. Keeping mother and child together helps promote a healing bond, and creates less stress.

Board-certified neonatologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specially-trained healthcare professionals are there to provide that higher level of care when needed. The TriStar StoneCrest NICU has been designated Level IIB by the State of Tennessee, but when necessary, a team is available from their sister unit at Centennial, which is rated Level III, at a moment’s notice.

A new camera system, called NICVIEW, allows families to watch over their critically ill baby 24/7 through a password protected livestream. This is important especially for families who live far from the hospital to remain in constant contact when a baby needs additional care, an  parents have to return home.

Their website notes that their doctors and staff strive to give families their ideal birth experience through a commitment to quality, compassion, and choice. Each staff member works to insure families have the information and support they need from prenatal care to labor and delivery through postpartum support.

is a Good Investment

Healthy employees are more productive, that is a scientific fact. The website SnackNation recently ran an article addressing this very point. Three of the findings that they published were that company wellness programs can help contain lifestyle-related diseases, that healthy workers are more engaged, and that helping workers changes bad habits through work sponsored wellness programs saves employers money.

The SnackNation article, 11 Data-Backed Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs That You Need to Know About, the author referred to three different studies regarding these claims. Rand Health Quarterly noted in an annual study that their research “… confirms that workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, the main driver of premature morbidity and mortality as well as health care cost in the United States.”

Another study, sponsored by Humana, showed that … “[c]ompanies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.”

Perhaps most interesting is the increase in productivity. The article notes that … “when employees leveraged wellness programs to make lifestyle changes, they ended up saving their companies about $353 in recouped productivity….” That is to the tune of $353 per employee per year.

Three companies in Rutherford County that are involved with programs that focus on employee and community health. Nissan and General Mills have national programs for their employees to see that they stay healthy in mind and body, while The Avenue Murfreesboro offers community yoga classes during the warmer months at no charge.

Health Services on Site

A program called Live Well at Nissan helps employees prevent illness, manage chronic illness, stay active, lose weight, and live healthier lives. They also, depending on the location, offer on-site fitness facilities or gym membership reimbursement. At the Smyrna Plant, there is a full medical center and a fitness center, with staff to help employees deal with a wide variety of physical and mental health issues.

Stay Healthy and Active

Keeping a work-life balance, and medically and physically fit are part of the General Mills culture. They nurture this culture in a number of ways, from forming sports teams to on-site annual physical exams and free flu shots. They also offer ergonomic training to learn how to be more conscious of how to do a job without putting undue stress on the body, to flexible work options.

Complimentary Yoga

For a number of years now, The Avenue Murfreesboro has been offering complimentary yoga classes to the public. The last two sessions this year will be on August 3 at 9:00 am and on September 18 just before sunset. To be a part of the class, they simply ask that you register in advance on line, and then be sure to bring a mat and dress appropriately. It’s a great way to tone and destress.

Takes on Health Issues

Knowing that healthy employees mean a healthy economy, the Tennessee legislature has been addressing the issue to insure the state’s economy continues to thrive. Twelve Stone Health Partners recently shared an infographic from Senator Shane Reeve’s office called “The Relentless Pursuit for a Healthier Tennessee.” The infographic noted six items the state legislators are working on to address some of the major issues facing Tennessee, like tobacco usage, opioid abuse, addiction, and access to affordable healthcare. These items included raising the legal age for smoking and vaping to 21, limiting the amount and frequency of opioid prescriptions, increasing support for addiction treatment, protecting patient access to local pharmacies, working to help provide Medicaid flexibility, and making patient billing more understandable.

These are only a few of the business, government, and community resources available in Rutherford County to help to address the need for a healthier Tennessee. But in the end, each of us must work individually towards a healthier lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, regular physical activity, and strong ties to family, friends, and community that support a better way of life for all.

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