MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER began humbly, in the North Nashville community, as an extension of Meharry Medical Center and Hubbard Hospital as a family oriented ambulatory center. The Center was named after Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. to honor him for his lifetime of service to the community and Meharry Medical College. The Center’s primary purpose was to provide comprehensive health services to the underserved population in one convenient location, to prevent and treat disease, and to provide jobs for persons of low economic and educational backgrounds.
The Center was the first federally qualified health center in the state of Tennessee. The original funding was made possible through a federal loan of $1,450,800 to Meharry Medical Center, who at the time was the sponsor of the project. The loan was provided through the Office of Economic Opportunity.
Ground-breaking ceremonies were at the corner of 14th Avenue and Herman Street in August 1968. In the following month, the Center began operations in a small temporary, remodeled building at 1310 Jefferson Street until construction of the new center on Herman Street could be completed. The outreach services and aide training took place in a converted store front at 1107 Jefferson Street and the planning and administrative office was located at 1802 Albion Street.
During 1974-75, MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER and Comprehensive Health Center of Meharry were consolidated to eliminate duplication of services and overlapping of staff. In December 1974, a director was selected for the two programs eliminating the two director positions of each health center. In 1977-78, the level of the federal grant funds began to decrease, even though the operating costs were steadily increasing. A decision was then made to discontinue the consolidation approach of the two centers, and in February 1979 the MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER became its own free-standing primary care facility. The Center was later changed to MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER INC.
Over the next two decades MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER had many accomplishments including its first accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1984 and the opening of a satellite site on Dickerson Road in 1999. In July 2002, under the leadership of then CEO Michelle B. Marrs, MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER launched a $5 million capital campaign to fund construction of a new, modern building. This feat was realized in October 2004 and MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER relocated to the new state-of-the-art healthcare facility located on the corner of 14th and historic Jefferson Street at 1035 14th Avenue North. In January 2008, MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER opened a new community health center in Clarksville, Tennessee in response to a federal call for community health centers to fill the gap for medical treatment in underserved communities.
Since 1968 MATTHEW WALKER COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER has demonstrated a commitment to fulfilling the vision of reducing barriers to healthcare one by one and tackling new challenges as they arise.