Community service

TN Volunteer Program Winner Dr. Gordon Says Dickson’s Community Service ‘Chosen Me’

Retired Dr. Jeff Gordon remembers cuts to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program that provides health care to low-income, elderly and disabled residents.

It was 2005 and Gov. Phil Bredesen’s TennCare restructuring plan was implemented, resulting in the loss of health insurance for approximately 300,000 people statewide.

Phil Ross, then pastor of Dickson First United Methodist Church, began discussions with Dr. Dan Drinnen and Gordon about possibly “providing a clinic for these people who didn’t have insurance,” Gordon said. A year later, the Dickson Community Clinic was established, and organizers Gordon and Drinnen partnered with the Dickson County Health Department to use their facilities.

The clinic is one of the reasons Gordon was recently honored as a “Volunteer Star”. The Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards are an initiative of Volunteer Tennessee to recognize outstanding volunteers throughout the state.

“We (at the community clinic) were fortunate that the Dickson Health Department gave us a space to see patients, which turned out to be a benefit for everyone,” Gordon said.

The collaboration between a faith-based nonprofit community-based primary health care organization and a county health department was the first in Tennessee.

Gordon and Drinnen volunteered their time and by 2008 the clinic had grown enough to move inside Horizon Medical Center where Dr. BJ Smith also volunteered.

These days, Gordon, 76, is still involved with the clinic — as well as the scouts — but is spending more and more time on the land he and his wife, Dr. Marcille Mahan, own in Kentucky.

“Our battle plan is to spend more time on the farm…and see the grandkids,” Mahan said.

Gordon said the clinic will soon have a new designated chief in place.

“We’re going to have a part-time, paid executive director who will be handling most of the day-to-day workings and fundraising for the clinic very soon,” Gordon said.

The community clinic, now located at the Shepard Center in Dickson, sees up to 25 patients a day.

“Most of our patients are quite sick with multiple illnesses and multiple health issues,” Gordon said.

The clinic is funded by grants, approximately $100,000 in annual donations; and an additional $70,000 from various annual fundraisers.

Volunteering

Gordon received the volunteer award Feb. 13 along with volunteers from 66 Franklin counties.

He was honored for more than his clinical leadership.

Gordon was the president of the Boy Scouts of America Friend of Scouting, winning the District Merit Award, and he received the Silver Beaver Award for Outstanding Volunteers.

Gordon’s involvement in the Boy Scouts, he said, began with his father, an Air Force base commander.

“My dad was big on the Boy Scouts when I was young. We moved around a lot,” Gordon said. “His first action when he moved into a community was to find out if they had a Boy Scout troop, and if they didn’t have one, he would create one.”

Gordon has been a member of Dickson First United Methodist Church for over 40 years, leading and serving on various boards and committees; participate in mission trips and help guide the church through the COVID pandemic.

He also served as a medical advisor on the COVID Advisory Committee to Dickson Mayor Don Weiss, Jr.

Gordon, who has lived in Dickson since 1978, said simply that many of his extracurricular community efforts “choose me, I didn’t choose them.”

Gordon also served on the Goodlark Educational Foundation which awarded scholarships and was instrumental in bringing United Way to Dickson County.