Shirley says the two health houses have already helped reduce hospital admissions and he's eager to get more health houses up and running. He says politics—both state and federal—has limited the project's reach so far. "I hear a lot about studies but the people here have been studied enough. They need medical care."
UnitedHealthcare has provided some seed money and Shirley is trying to garner support from healthcare policy makers. It is frustrating, Shirley says, that in spite of the fact that "we spend millions and millions of dollars doing things the same way and getting the same results that a different approach is either threatening or misunderstood."
Shirley was born and raised in Jackson, and his wife, Ollye, is from the Mississippi Delta region. The couple has four children, all of whom work in healthcare. None became physicians, however.
"They remember how hard I worked," he says with a laugh.