Foundation History

The Medical Foundation dates to April 1986 when the Foundation for Physician Information and Practice Resources was formed. The original concept was "to form a not-for-profit foundation to monitor, analyze, and forecast changes occurring in the medical and health care delivery system in the U.S. which will affect medical practice, public policy, and patient care; to develop strategies, (provide) information and support services to assist the physician primarily engaged in private practice patient care to effectively cope and succeed within a rapidly changing medical and health care system. This foundation will be set up and managed as a research and development organization."

In May 1993, the foundation charter was amended and the name was officially changed to the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga, Inc. For a number of years, the Foundation served as a nonprofit conduit for educational and philanthropic efforts undertaken by the Medical Society. The Medical Society Executive Director also provided staff support to the Medical Foundation and served as Secretary-Treasurer.

Funding sources included some contributions from individual physicians and contributions from community health organizations to underwrite specific activities (such as health studies).

Through the 1990s, funding was provided for projects that included:

  • Science Fair
  • Health House
  • Medical Alliance
  • Community health studies and projects by the Regional Health Council (designated funding)
  • Medical Society educational events, such as the President's Forum
  • Chattanooga Coalition Against Tobacco
  • Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Family and Children's Services Family Violence Shelter
  • Tennessee Medical Foundation Physician Health Program

2001 -- The Mission Revisited

In 2001, Dr. Bowers and the Medical Foundation board revisited the mission of the Foundation. A Mission Subcommittee drafted the following mission statement for the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga, Inc., which was approved by the board.

The Medical Foundation of Chattanooga exists to support our community through health services research, promotion of healthy lifestyles, education, and cooperation with other charitable entities.

The values under girding the mission include:

  • The desire to improve the "medical quality of life" in our community;
  • The desire for the Foundation to be community-oriented, not just focused on physicians and the medical profession;
  • The desire that the Foundation should also serve the needs of the medical profession;
  • The desire/priority that the Foundation support education and enhancement of community awareness of healthy lifestyles and choices;
  • The desire that the Foundation become a conduit for physician charitable giving.

The Medical Foundation's scope of activities -- a program plan -- would encompass the following areas:

  • Issues Education (President's Forum; contracts reviews; Adult and Youth Behavior Risk Surveys).
  • Professional Development (health services research; programs).
  • Community Development (quality of life in the community/collaboration with other community entities: Health House; STARS; Boys' Club; Girls, Inc.; Children's Hospital; St. Jude's Children's Hospital; Orange Grove; Bethel Bible Village).

The Medical Foundation 2001 to the present
Following the adoption of the Medical Foundation's restated mission, the Foundation and Medical Society began investigating the possibility of hiring a staff person to manage foundation activities and stimulate fund development.

Foundation Initiatives

  • Co-sponsored Annual Medical Society/Medical Foundation President's Forums on a wide range of important health issues.
  • Coordinated the 2002 Hamilton County Youth Behavior Risk Survey in conjunction with the Regional Health Council
  • Initiated the Chattanooga Coalition Against Tobacco, a community-wide program that began in 1996
  • Coordinated the 2004 Adult Behavior Risk Surveillance Survey, conducted in cooperation with the Regional Health Council, to address health priorities.
  • Played key leadership roles in the countywide Step ONE (Optimize with Nutrition and Exercise).
  • Rae Bond served on the steering committee for the initiative, which was prominently featured at the November 2004 Medical Society and Medical Foundation President's Forum.

Project Access

The largest new initiative developed through the Medical Foundation is Project Access, a voluntary program to increase and coordinate care to low-income uninsured residents of Hamilton County. A Project Access organizing committee was formed in 2002 and work began to form a physician-hospital coalition to develop the project and secure start-up funding. Rae Bond assisted the foundation on a volunteer basis in 2002 and was hired as the Foundation's first executive director in February 2003. In September 2003, the Medical Foundation was awarded a major three-year federal grant for Project Access to fund start-up costs, including developing information systems, evaluation tools, and other program development activities.

Future Challenges and Opportunities

The Medical Foundation of Chattanooga is in a strategic position to have a positive impact on the health of the community and the image of the medical profession. Through Project Access , a broad-based health coalition has been created that may be positioned to address additional community health needs and challenges. New relationships are being established and the Medical Society and Medical Foundation are seen as highly effective "can do" organizations.

Future opportunities that have been presented very recently include playing an integral role in a new initiative to address the growing crisis of low-birth weight babies born in Hamilton County and adding dental and/or mental health components to Project Access. Hamilton County has enormous health-related needs that could be addressed through the work of the Foundation.

The Medical Foundation of Chattanooga is committed to work with the Medical Society to have a transformative impact on the health of our community, and in the process raise public awareness of the multi-faceted roles and contributions of our physicians.