Navigating Medicare as a Health Worker

Navigating Medicare- a Day in the Life of a Community Health Worker


At Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, we see people from all walks of life. They may be the person who waits on you at your local coffee shop, the person helping you at an amusement park, or the person who helps keep your yard mowed and bushes pruned. The need for services is also varied: The mother who is taking her child in for immunizations, a person with shortness of breath, and sometimes the patient has put off seeing a doctor for too long and has a variety of symptoms to work through. Life goes on, whether we have insurance or not.  These are the people we see each day at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic.

In many cases, the first-time screening process can reveal not only an initial diagnosis, but clear gaps in what resources a patient might need to develop a healthier lifestyle.  In one case, a 64-year-old patient had come into the clinic for medical care and was unclear on what direction he needed to go, because he had just become eligible for insurance through his employer. They offered a health benefits insurance plan that he would qualify for, but within a brief time, he would also qualify for Medicare.

One of the Community Health Workers (CHW) here at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic discussed the options with the patient, such as how much the employer plan might cost, both while he continued his employment, and how much it would cost to continue that plan, should he be unable to keep working due to health reasons. The patient also learned that there can be penalties associated with delayed enrollment of Medicare, and that they can go up the longer you wait to sign up. The information our Community Health Workers supplied helped clarify his choices, and once he had a better understanding of his options, he knew which plan would work best for him.

Sometimes, the Community Health Worker plays a vital role in aiding the patient in connecting the dots to other resources they may need. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, a change in diet or medication may be needed, and that can create an unplanned expense that their budget cannot accommodate. Insulin and syringes are another such cost, and can often present a difficult choice, as a patient may have to decide between paying for medication or for their utility bill. In such cases, the CHW can connect them with resources to supply more nutritious foods, or medication assistance programs if costs are not within their budget.

In this case, our patient did opt to begin Medicare at age 65, and returned for his last visit, as he would continue care under this new plan, with a new provider. He stated he was fond of his provider at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, a sentiment echoed by many over the years, who found they could receive quality health care while being treated kindly and with dignity. We are always happy to see a positive outcome, knowing we are being led to provide these vital services to those that need them, through the spirit of compassion and giving.

Stay Safer Outdoors This Summer

As the days get longer and temperatures rise, people are spending more time in the great outdoors. Whether you are hiking, fishing, or mowing the lawn, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your family safer this summer. During the summer months at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, we will frequently see people with sunburn. Sunburns can be quite painful, even blistering in more extreme cases. Applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater before you go out is best, and bring some with you, so you can reapply every 60-90 minutes. Wearing sun protective clothing and a hat goes a long way in protecting your skin from the sun’s rays, and sunglasses are not just for looks- they help protect from glare and debris. Keeping an extra hat and bottle of sunscreen in the car is a good way to ensure you are prepared, if you make that impromptu trip to the farmers market or stop for a hike.

For sunburn relief, we recommend a soothing moisturizer, such as aloe lotion or gel. Taking a cool bath with about 2 ounces of baking soda can also help, as does applying a cool damp cloth. Over-the-counter pain relief tablets such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help with pain and inflammation, if it is safe for you to take. If you do blister, try to leave them alone, to avoid risk of infection or scaring. If the at-home remedies don’t seem to help, your healthcare provider may prescribe a steroid cream, or if the sunburn is severe, your provider may recommend other care.

All that fun in the sun can also lead to dehydration, so drink plenty of water, early and often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink fluids, and eating hydrating foods like strawberries, cucumber, melon and lettuce are good ways to get more fluids. Signs of dehydration include dry skin or mouth, fatigue, dark or decreased urine, and headaches.
We also see an increase in ticks during the summer. Wearing protective clothing like long pants and sleeves is helpful, as are closed-toe shoes. It’s best to check yourself and children after coming in from hiking, doing yardwork or other outdoor activities, so you can remove any before they are attached. If the tick is not embedded, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. If the tick has been embedded, call or see your medical provider, as antibiotics may be required. Keep an eye on any tick bites and seek medical advice if you notice swelling or a bullseye type rash around the area.

Poison Ivy also presents an irritating challenge in not only the summer, but all year long. People can be affected by the oils on Poison Ivy, even if no leaves are present, such as in the winter. If you are in an area where you may be in contact with foliage, such as hiking or doing yardwork, wear long pants and sleeves. Remove and wash clothing when you are inside, and wash with soap and water to remove any residual oils on the skin and clothing. Poison Ivy oils left behind on items like shoes or clothing can cause an allergic reaction even months later, if you come back into contact with the item.
With these tips, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!

ETSU Medical Residents at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic


This past year, we have been able to strengthen our relationship with ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. We have formed a partnership with them to host residents at the Clinic. The collaboration between Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic and medical residents creates a mutually beneficial connection. Residents gain a deeper understanding of the real-world impact of their work and the importance of community-based care. Meanwhile, their contributions provide a lifeline to the clinic, allowing it to expand its reach and touch the lives of even more individuals in need.

The Clinic has long been a place for the uninsured in need of quality healthcare. The medical residents who choose to join us, dedicate their time and expertise to serve the community. They provide an invaluable role that helps give hope to our patients in addition to our amazing clinical staff.

During their time at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, the residents are offered a unique opportunity to enhance their clinical skills and broaden their understanding of healthcare disparities. They gain valuable experience in managing a diverse range of medical conditions while collaborating with a team of healthcare professionals. Medical residents not only experience professional growth but personal growth also. Engaging with patients from different backgrounds and witnessing the impact of their work on vulnerable communities fosters personal growth and empathy. Residents learn to navigate cultural sensitivities, communicate effectively with patients facing language barriers, and develop a deeper understanding of social determinants of health. These invaluable lessons mold them into well-rounded physicians who are better equipped to address the complex challenges in healthcare.

The impact of medical residents serving at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic extends far beyond their immediate interactions with patients. By providing compassionate care and improving health outcomes, these residents inspire hope in the community. They serve as role models, encouraging others to pursue careers in healthcare and contributing to the growth of a more compassionate and inclusive society. Their dedication sets a precedent for future generations of medical professionals to prioritize service to the underserved.

Tom Kincer, MD, Associate Dean for Rural Programs and Professor of Family Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine quoted, “Valued relationships really do exist. It’s even better when everyone involved benefits and this is what ETSU Family Medicine Residency Programs have with Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic in Sevierville. Our resident physicians have spent the last year with the providers and staff at Mountain Hope providing excellent medical care to a grateful patient population while receiving an education in primary care and community outreach. We look forward to another wonderful year with our valued community partner.”  

We are extremely grateful for this new relationship that will be on going. We are already very excited to receive our next group of residents who will make a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals.


Remembering Sue Ellen Riddle

In Memory of our Clinic co-founder, Sue Ellen Riddle

         Our staff and board of directors remember the impactful contributions of our Clinic co-founder, Sue Ellen Riddle. Her journey speaks to her vision to be guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ and have an impact on the health and wellbeing for all uninsured living and working in Sevier County. As a result of her commitment and dedication, over 30,000 individuals have received healthcare at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic. Sue Ellen taught us the value of unwavering faith and the impact one can have on a community when following their servant’s heart. Her actions were always centered around how she could help others and never about personal recognition or gain. You always experienced endless energy and love when in her presence. May we continue to follow the path and guidance she established for our Clinic to always value all human life and provide compassionate and professional healthcare. What a blessing to have experienced Sue Ellen’s servant journey that will have a lasting impact on our hearts and community.

Deb Murph

Executive Director

Cream Brown Breast Cancer Awareness Instagram Post (1)

Surviving and Thriving in the Lord

I never thought much about dates and the significance of remembering where I was when something happened. But I do remember the date of my last mammogram. April 26th, 2022. I had let some years pass since my previous one, approximately six years to be exact. But I started to think about getting a mammogram after a young woman in the church had gotten hers and then urged her Mom who was in my Sunday School class to get hers. In an unusual twist, they both were positive, underwent treatment together and will always be connected by their diagnosis.

I got a 3-D mammogram and was very impressed with the technology and the ease of which the mammogram took place. I was to get results in a week. I arrived at my home and got a call from my sister that my mother, who was in hospice, had taken a turn for the worse and had only hours or at most, days to live. I did a quick pack and off I drove to Maryland. I saw my Mom that evening, she was miserable.

The next morning, I got a call on my mammogram results. Something was spotted and a diagnostic mammogram would be scheduled upon my return. The hours became days, and the days became a week and Mom turned the corner and returned to a good place in which she could smile, recognize us and we shared our love for one another.

Back to Tennessee I came. The diagnostic mammogram resulted in a biopsy, the biopsy confirmed cancer and I was scheduled for a partial mastectomy which was more akin to a lumpectomy. After the surgery, I had to wait for healing before radiation would begin. Radiation started six weeks after the surgery and lasted 4 weeks. I was able to schedule the radiation treatments at the end of my workday which was so convenient.

I never once doubted that God’s plan was in play. He took away any anxieties and replaced them with joy and appreciation. God provided me with His vision to see the goodness in His people and I was loved in new ways. It is during such times as these that I know we can be messengers of God’s hope and love.  It has been a privilege to represent Him during this unexpected side trip, but I recognize His working on my behalf every day and I truly have felt His presence every bit of the way.

God is good all the time, all the time God is good! I believe this!