The Social Exchange - August non-profit feature by Jeffrey Peterson

“I probably would’ve wound up, probably in trouble somewhere,” is what patient Sharon Norwood, 52, said when asked where she would be without Christ Community Health Services (CCHS). 

Norwood seeked care from CCHS while recovering from a ruptured brain aneurysm that, in combination with overmedication from other doctors, led to deep depression. She began to see a psychologist at CCHS weekly and things began to turn around. 

“I couldn’t see the triumph because I was so focused on the tragedy,” Norwood said in reference to several traumatic family events that happened around the same dates. 

Instead of writing prescriptions for medication, her psychologist would write on the prescription tasks that Norwood could complete, such as journaling, that would prove to help her cope with the trauma in a productive way. 

“That gave me an opportunity to really think about the gratitude I had in my heart and in my life,” said Norwood, who continued to say that when she started feeling better, CCHS encouraged her daily to minimize and escape her depression. 

“It gave me a sense of yes, I can.” 

Norwood’s story is just one of many that demonstrates the ability of CCHS to not just treat with medication, but to heal the entirety of an individual, which is shown in their new tagline: Healing With Soul. 

Spiritual healing as well as physical was a crucial part in Norwood’s recovery, specifically the availability of spiritual health advisors prior to a patient’s visit. 

“They take the time out of the end of every appointment to pray with you and to pray for you… they have on staff spiritual health advisors who will come to your room while waiting for the physician just to see if you have any spiritual needs,” she said. 

Christ plays an important role in the organization’s mission, according to CEO Shantelle Leatherwood, because they go to communities that have been deserted by private physicians which aligns with their promise to serve the poor, whether that is spiritually or materially. 

“We do this because that is what Christ did,” said CEO Shantelle Leatherwood. 

As Shelby County’s largest primary care provider, the organization has come a long way since it’s beginning in 1995. Today, CCHS has over 56,000 patients and more than 180,000 visits annually, according to their website, in addition to covering a wide range of services. 

While Leatherwood was recently named CEO in 2017, she has been with the organization since the early 2000s. She says that her desire to serve the underserved as a result of her faith is what has kept her with the organization for such a long period. She encourages individuals to visit their website to inquire about the services they offer or if individuals would like to support the organization.


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