MLH goes to Washington; White House sees Methodist as model to improve healthcare

Published On 11/09/2011

On Tuesday, September 20, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) welcomed Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s Senior Vice President of Health and Welfare Ministries, Gary Gunderson, along with the CEOs and leadership of 15 other hospitals from across the country to discuss improving health outcomes through faith-based and community partnerships. 

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare was one of three healthcare organizations invited to give a formal presentation of our community health partnership - the Congregational Health Network, during the event. 

“In a time when many doubt the capacity of our institutions, government and community to overcome economic and social challenges, it is good for Memphis to be known as a place of bold innovation,” said Gary. “What the White House calls ‘the Methodist Memphis Model’ includes 376 faith congregations who have entered into a covenant with us -- and each other -- that is producing evidence of higher quality and lower cost by expanding access to health care. 

 “Most urban hospitals have failed to prevent the sickest among the poor from revolving in and out of their emergency rooms for critical care, and from getting lost in attempts to navigate between silos of disparate social services and health programs that could support them,” added Gary. “Our alignment of partnerships leverages the intelligence and commitment of the hospital staff who know their medicine, and the faith partners who know their flock.” 

Methodist’s hospital-faith community partnership provides a bridge that makes the social and health resources more visible, accessible and successful, saving money, time and lives.  In February 2011, Methodist opened the first ever Center of Excellence in Faith and Health.  An interfaith, collaborative center of research, innovation, training and family care, the Center focuses on building partnerships with congregations, community health centers and privately funded clinics to promote public health to communities. 

Since the first meeting held on February 8, there have been over 750 meetings in the Center in 2011 alone.  These meetings bring together some of the best and brightest to work as one to improve healthcare for our community.  Meetings such as the Health & Human Services Conference, the Unity & Hope Youth Conference, the Memphis Theological Seminary Retreat, the Health Disparities & Beloved Community Conference, the Epidemic of Health Conference, and the Hospice National Teleconference are just a few that have come together in our Center of Excellence in Faith and Health to work for a brighter future for us all. 

For more information about the Congregational Health Network or the Center of Excellence in Faith and Health, visit For more information about the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, visit

Image: Third and fourth from left, Bobby Baker, director, Faith & Community Partnerships and Teresa Cutts, director, Research for Innovation, Center of Excellence in Faith & Health