One year after completing the move to a $40 million building on Gateway Boulevard, Murfreesboro Medical Clinic CEO Joey Peay has no regrets about leaving the inner city.
Sure, a handful of patients still go to the clinic’s former location on North Highland Avenue – despite the clinic’s efforts to notify everyone. And, it’s a challenge to run a 230,000-square-foot facility that’s nearly twice as big as the old one, Peay says.
“I joke when I’m giving a tour about needing to bring bread crumbs so you can find your way back to your starting point,” says Peay, a Readyville resident and MTSU graduate who has overseen MMC for eight years.
Making the move itself was a Herculean task, as well, that stretched over five years, he points out.
“When you’re at one place for 30 years, you build up a lot of stuff,” he said. "And because the building’s different layout, some staff members’ workflow changed, creating a little angst.
But the new clinic located between North Thompson Lane and Medical Center Parkway near the newly-named St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital provides physicians with a fresh place to practice medicine and offers ailing patients a better experience, he says.
“When you can invite them into a little more welcoming facility, as opposed to the stark walls of an old building, it hopefully puts them at ease and makes them enjoy their visit a little more,” says Peay, who was honored as the 2013 Business Person of the Year by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
The bigger facility also gives MMC the opportunity to expand its physician staff, which is a necessity as it handles some 1,500 patient visits a day, totaling about 400,000 annually, according to Peay. Those patients aren’t simply from Murfreesboro, either, he says, noting they come here from across Middle Tennessee.
“We’ve become a regional medical destination for those folks in a small town,” Peay says.
MMC is one of the most diverse clinics in Middle Tennessee, and its offering is vast, with more than 30 medical departments, ranging from specialties such as a congestive heart failure center to pediatrics, orthopedic and sports medicine, the sleep center. It also provides a great deal of primary care through its SurgiCenter.
Peay continues to recruit physicians to meet the demand of the growing community, bringing in three to four physicians in the past year to push MMC’s total into the mid-70s, he says. Another internist should be on the way this summer, too.
Dealing with affordable care
An accountant by trade, Peay knows how to crunch numbers and investigate insurance matters. But he wasn’t much different than most people who ran into problems when the federal Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace provision took effect late last year.
“The jury is still out,” he says on how effective it will be in providing more people with insurance. “What I’m seeing right now is a lot of confusion.”
For instance, Peay says he had to do some serious Internet work to find out which physicians were in which network and which insurance companies were covering which hospitals. Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, for instance, is accepting Cigna, Humana or Community Health Alliance insurance, but it is not participating in their Exchange programs, Peay says, because they don’t provide coverage for St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital, formerly Middle Tennessee Medical Center, where his physicians practice medicine.
BlueCross BlueShield also is offering numerous plans, some with broad and some with narrow networks depending on deductibles, which can be difficult for consumers to navigate, he says. Peay advises patients to do a great deal of investigation before they sign on with an insurance plan.
From humble beginnings
Dr. Carl Adams and Dr. Sidney Garrison founded Murfreesboro Medical Clinic 65 years ago in a small building on Spring Street in downtown Murfreesboro. It later moved to what is now an NHC nursing home on University Street and then to its longtime home on North Highland. MMC started the transition to the Gateway Boulevard site in 2008, its first phase before the entire staff moved Feb. 11, 2013.
“The entire process has gone amazingly well for the move and just the transition,” Peay says.
The big shift last winter in the midst of flu season worried him and the staff to some degree because that’s typically their busiest time. But, he says, “Our staff was amazing. They rose to the challenge and made it a seamless transition.”
If anything, staff members who had been at the new location since 2008 were a little “envious” of those moving into the newer facility, he says. But phase one also helped MMC prepare for last year’s final phase of transition, he says.
Calling himself a “homer,” Peay is adamant that MMC helps make Murfreesboro one of the best places for medical care in Middle Tennessee.
“I’m really excited about the medical community in Murfreesboro,” Peay says. “I really resent it when people believe they’ve got to go somewhere else for quality medical care.”
That might have been the case 20 years ago, he says. But with a new hospital, new clinic and other resources, Peay believes MMC and the rest of the local health-care community can hold their own with Nashville.
Go to mmclinic.com for more information about the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic staff, insurance, specialists and complete list of services.