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For Scott Morris, M.D., M.Div., Church Health Center allows him to “Live Life to the Plus+” through service to others
Dr. Morris — a family practice physician, an ordained United Methodist minister, and the Executive Director of Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee — takes the Bible’s mandate to care for people’s bodies and spirits seriously.
As a young man, two things bothered Dr. Morris. The first was that the U.S. health care system was letting people fall through the cracks. The second was that while the church had historically been actively involved in health and healing as part of its ministry, its modern role in healthcare had all but evaporated. Scott Morris knew he wanted to reunite the two. So in high school, when most people still don’t have a clue as to what they’re going to do with their lives, he had a plan: he would attend both seminary and medical school.
While attending Yale Divinity School, Dr. Morris saw a pamphlet entitled, “How to Start a Church-Based Health Clinic.” In a moment of clarity, he knew exactly how he would meld his twin passions of physical and spiritual healing. He continued on his schooling path, and received his medical degree from Emory University.
Dr. Morris’s vision became a reality in 1987 with the founding of Church Health Center, which provides quality, affordable healthcare to low-income, uninsured working people in Memphis. One of the poorest major cities in America, Memphis was — and still is — home to many working people who are paid too little to be able to afford basic healthcare.
Thanks to a broad base of support from the religious community and the volunteer help of doctors, nurses, dentists, and others, the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest clinic of its kind in the country, and now handles over 36,000 patient visits per year. It also receives visitors from all over the world who hope to emulate that success in their own communities.
Of course Dr. Morris sees his job as helping people, not numbers. “The Church Health Center is here to help a mother avoid the anxiety of not knowing what to do with her sick child,” Dr. Morris explains. “It’s here to provide medicine to a house cleaner who develops diabetes and can’t afford the drugs on her own. It’s here to treat a man who falls off the roof of a house he’s building, breaks his arm, and can’t afford to go to the orthopedist. No one should have to live that way in this city.”
One of the core beliefs shared by both Dr. Morris and Juice Plus+ is that prevention is the ultimate key to good health. The Church Health Center operates a Wellness Center that offers everything from personalized exercise plans to cooking classes to group exercise classes and activities for children and teens — all designed to help reduce the risk of disease, and to keep people from needing to visit the Medical Clinic for treatment in the first place.
By promoting health and prevention in the way he’d always dreamed of, Dr. Morris is living an abundant life himself, while helping others “Live Life to the Plus+” as well. “We‘re in the business of providing children and their parents hope for their future, all of us finding ways to live healthy lives that are filled with joy,” he says with a smile.
Amen to that.
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