Xtend Healthcare in Hendersonville, had no experience with contact tracing when it scored its first state contract for $20 million. (Photo: John Partipilo)

No-bid contract earns company $55 million from state for contact tracing

BY: - November 23, 2021

In the early summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed even the nation’s most robust public health programs, Tennessee became one of a handful of states that chose to outsource contact tracing to a private vendor. In June 2020, Hendersonville-based Xtend Healthcare, a for-profit medical billing firm without prior experience in infectious disease, inked […]

Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republican lawmaker demands medical board end policy disciplining doctors for COVID misinformation

BY: - November 19, 2021

Tennessee Republican Rep. John Ragan has demanded that a state medical board remove a policy statement from its website that warns physicians who spread misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines risk disciplinary action. In a letter sent Monday to Dr. Melanie Blake, president of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, Ragan instructed the statement be deleted “without […]

Supporters of Planned Parenthood in the gallery of the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee must pay legal fees for abortion providers

BY: - November 18, 2021

The state of Tennessee has agreed to pay attorneys for abortion providers $249,000 to cover legal fees stemming from their challenge to an executive order by Gov. Bill Lee during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily banned most abortions. The settlement — an agreed-upon sum between the office of Attorney General Herbert […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Feds approve using COVID relief funds to expand home services for Tennesseans with disabilities

BY: - October 28, 2021

The federal government has approved a plan to use COVID relief funds to enroll up to 2,000 Tennesseans with disabilities — who are currently on a waiting list —  into a state program that provides home and community-based services. The expansion of the program  — known as Employment and Community First CHOICES, or ECF-CHOICES — […]

Jasmine Worles (right) discusses pregnancy concerns with her doula Miajenell Peake at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee on January 24, 2021. As a doula, Miajenell will support Jasmine with many aspects of her pregnancy and after delivery. ( © Karen Pulfer Focht)

Metro Nashville Health gains grant to train doulas

BY: - October 19, 2021

The Metro Nashville Public Health Department will soon be seeking recruits for a federally-funded program aimed at creating additional support for expectant mothers in low-income areas.  On Tuesday, Metro Health announced they have received $125,000 from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund a project aimed at recruiting and training doulas to […]

Arnoldo Garcia gets help from medical assistant, Jasmin Garcia at the Neighborhood Health clinic in Madison. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: Tennessee’s legislature needs to do the math on incentives

BY: - October 11, 2021

We need a special session of the Tennessee State Legislature – one that focuses on math – and we need it now. I am not opposed to reasonable tax breaks, infrastructure investment, and other incentives by Tennessee taxpayers, to attract the right kind of business and job opportunities to the state Even though I might […]

Abortion rights rally in Nashville draws hundreds

BY: - October 4, 2021

A rally by abortion rights advocates drew hundreds to the Tennessee Capitol on Saturday. The Rally for Abortion Justice was part of coordinated events in cities across the nation after a Texas law banning most abortions took effect. Photojournalist John Partipilo captured the event.  

Supporters of Planned Parenthood in the gallery of the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Coalition hold events for abortion justice in nine Tennessee cities

BY: - September 30, 2021

A coalition of progressive groups and organizations that work for reproductive rights is holding a rally for abortion justice in nine Tennessee cities on Saturday, with Murfreesboro serving as a central site. The “Bans off our Bodies” event is part of a Nationwide Day of Action for Abortion Rights which will feature more than 600  […]

A group of doctors representing St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital attempt to get Gov. Bill Lee's attention after his Thursday press conference. (Photo:John Partipilo)

Physicians fire back at governor’s COVID policies

BY: - September 28, 2021

Doctors across the state, including one who serves on Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 advisory panel, are challenging his COVID-19 policies and cheering three court decisions to overturn his executive order allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates. Dr. Erica Kaye, a pediatrician, oncologist and palliative care physician at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Katie Beckett program for kids with disabilities falls short in first year

BY: - September 27, 2021

A program for Tennessee children with disabilities or complex medical needs has enrolled fewer than 1,000 children as it nears the end of its first year in operation, far short of the 3,000 children that state officials originally estimated would be served annually. The Katie Beckett program was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee […]

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Lil Nas X during the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS)

Memphis HIV/AIDS nonprofit gets boost from Lil Nas X

BY: - September 20, 2021

Representatives for the Memphis-based nonprofit Relationship Unleashed (RUNL) announced Friday the group has been chosen for rapper and singer-songwriter Lil Nas X’s “baby registry” to celebrate the release of his new record.  Montero is the artist’s debut full-length album; he’s worn a pregnancy belly and called the new album his “baby.” Lil Nas is asking […]

Eighty percent of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee during 2020 came from prescription and synthetic opioids.(Photo: Mint

Opioid overdose deaths jump in 2020

BY: - September 13, 2021

Overdose deaths in Tennessee jumped nearly 50% in 2020 according to new data from the Tennessee Department of Health. Close to 80% of overdose deaths were caused by synthetic and prescription opioids. Tennesseans living with addiction point to two major factors in the spike in overdose deaths: support systems interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and […]