Mountain People’s Health Councils, Inc. (MPHC) was incorporated in September of 1973, bringing together three communities in Tennessee that hosted Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition (SHC) health fairs, organized and incorporated local health councils, and opened health clinics. The three communities were Norma (Scott County), Petros (Morgan County) and Stoney Fork (Campbell County).

The clinics started seeing patients in 1974, with a full-time nurse practitioner at each clinic and a circuit-riding physician. The first physician was Rick Davidson, who volunteered with the SHC when he was a medical student. Other SHC volunteers who worked at MPHC over the years were Bill Dow, Wanda Lang, Bob Hartmann, and Trish Woodall. MPHC received support from the National Health Service Corps, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, also known as Rural Health Initiatives, along with small foundation grants.

Forty-six years later, Mountain People’s is alive and well. It was not always smooth sailing. The clinics in Petros and Stoney Fork have closed, and the Norma clinic was closed for a period of time. Today MPHC is based entirely in Scott County, with five clinics that provide a comprehensive range of services, including dental and mental health. The five locations are Norma, Elgin, Huntsville, Oneida, and Winfield. Mountain People’s now serves over 50 percent of the population in Scott County. In 2018, MPHC was named as one of the Top Ten federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the nation in terms of their quality of care scores.

This section of the SHC website tells the story of Mountain People’s Health Councils, Inc. from the health fairs in the 1970s to the creation of MPHC to the success that this SHC legacy is today. There is a section for each of the original clinics in Norma, Petros and Stoney Fork. A brief history of each clinic is combined with links to health fair documents and photos from the Center for Health Services at Vanderbilt, incorporation documents for each clinic, interviews with board members and clinicians, and photos from various collections in the Southern Historical Collection archives at UNC-Chapel Hill. The individual stories of Norma, Petros, and Stoney Fork are followed by a section about Mountain People’s today, including information about their locations and services, sources of funding, and performance as a FQHC. Interviews with the current CEO and MPHC Board of Directors are included. The final section is Lessons Learned. Various participants in the Mountain People’s story will share their perspectives about the challenges and successes that made MPHC an enduring Legacy of the Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition.


Do you have a story about the Mountain People’s Health Councils? If so, please get in touch! Visit the PARTICIPATE section of the website to find out all the ways you can contribute to this community-driven project.


Content about the legacy of Mountain People’s Health Councils: