In 1998, after completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Dr. Tim Henschel felt called to provide pediatric care to children in Williamson County who could not conveniently access medical care because of their lack of insurance or TennCare (Medicaid) coverage.
After several months of planning and discussion, Mercy Children’s Clinic was created out of the belief that local businesses, churches and individuals – and not solely the government – should help shoulder the burden for providing care for these children.
Incorporated as a Tennessee not-for-profit in April of 1999, Mercy Children’s Clinic began seeing patients later that year under the leadership of Dr. Henschel as CEO and Chief Medical Director. The clinic operated in a small house on Ninth Avenue in the heart of downtown Franklin, which was donated by a group of Franklin business leaders. With the vision of providing quality healthcare to any child who needs it, Mercy Children’s Clinic impacted the lives of thousands of Middle Tennessee families.
In 2006, Mercy added mental health and social services, enabling the organization to provide even more comprehensive, integrated care for children. Two years later, the Chronic Care Medical Home was established to ensure the proper management of the care plans of our patients inside and outside of Mercy. Hundreds of Mercy’s patients must see anywhere from two to 12 (or more) specialists in order to receive the care they need. Through the Chronic Care Medical Home, Mercy was able to serve as the “general contractor” for each of these patients.
The school-based counseling program began in 2008 at New Hope Academy. Over the years this program has expanded, and during the 2019-2020 school year Mercy counselors are in 31 schools in Williamson and Marshall counties.
In 2009, Mercy moved into a new facility in Williamson Square on Murfreesboro Road in Franklin. Not only was this new space three times larger than the small house the organization started in, but the entire clinic is furnished through generous donations from the community.
Care coordination and case management services began in 2011. Now housed in the Patient & Family Support Center, care navigators help families with unmet medical and social service needs including translator services, referrals, sub-specialist appointments and assistance with basic needs. Many of our care coordination staff are bi-lingual, and Certified Application Counselors and nurses.
Mercy was awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services designating it as a Federally Qualified Health Center in June 2012, and in 2013, Mercy began providing comprehensive healthcare services to adults while maintaining its mission. As a result of this additional area of focus, Mercy Children’s Clinic transitioned to Mercy Community Healthcare.
In 2015, Mercy underwent extensive growth and expanded into three suites within the Williamson Square Center – the Health Center, the Patient & Family Support Center (care coordination), and the Counseling Center.
Mercy opened a community health center expansion site at the Greater First Baptist Church in Lewisburg in 2017, and in 2019 moved into permanent space at 122 E. Commerce Street, just off the square in Lewisburg. At this site, both primary care and counseling services are offered to children and adults.
Today, Mercy continues the same mission on which it was founded – to reflect the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by providing excellent healthcare for ALL and support to their families – and in 2018, it was the medical home for approximately 10,000 unique patients. Mercy continues to provide quality, integrated services to everyone – adults and children, insured and uninsured – throughout Middle Tennessee and serves the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of each patient.