Delivering comprehensive healthcare services to communities in need.
For over 30 years, Mary's Center has been on the forefront of delivering quality healthcare and social services for those who need it most. To put people and their families on a path towards good health, stability, and economic independence, Mary’s Center developed a Social Change Model. It offers medical (including dental and behavioral health), educational, and social services for the entire family, regardless of income—all under one roof.
Inspired by the inequities that low-income immigrants often face, Maria Gomez opened Mary’s Center in the basement of a row house in Washington D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood in 1988. Initially, it focused on prenatal services for women fleeing violence from civil wars in Central American countries. It launched with support from the Washington D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs and the Department of Health to deliver culturally competent health services in D.C.’s Ward 1 neighborhood. In its first year, with a budget of $250,000, Mary’s Center served 200 women who were adjusting to life in the US. Since then, Mary’s Center has grown to serve more than 60,000 participants per year across eight locations, with an annual budget eclipsing $68 million.
Mary’s Center has been making a lasting impact in the community for underserved residents, through their Social Change Model. The model recognizes that a healthy population requires addressing the full picture of “social determinants of health.” Some of these determinants include: income, housing, access to quality nutrition, community resources, and safety. Taking a holistic approach to care was a gap that the Social Change Model filled. For example, a national study of 176 community health centers found that only 10 percent provided adult education and only 22 percent provided workforce development services.1
One of the organization’s leaders, Dara Koppelman, is the Chief Nursing Officer for Mary’s Center, joining in 2012. She oversees a team of 120 nurses, medical assistants, and quality improvement staff, as well as multiple services across the organization. In her view, the organization’s innovative approach to healthcare is instrumental in helping the community improve and thrive. “Mary’s Center has been built with the idea that healthcare alone isn’t enough to help a person and a community be at their best,” said Koppelman. “We’re trying to remove barriers for people and really set them up for success by providing as many services as possible,” she said.
One of the biggest challenges at Mary’s Center is having the flexibility to respond to ever-changing community needs, while operating on a set budget. Their funding comes primarily from grants and individual donors, and they also leverage other sources. For instance, they use AmazonSmile, which supports millions of national and local nonprofits and charities with every Amazon purchase. Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to charitable organizations, with no fees and no cost passed onto the organization. You can support Mary's Center through AmazonSmile here.
“While we receive grant funding from federal and local government, and different foundations, it doesn’t always cover all of our needs. About 30% of our patients are uninsured and are unable to be insured, so we’re always looking for creative ways to reduce costs so we can continue to provide that care,” said Koppelman.
According to Koppelman, Mary’s Center is able to reduce their overhead expenses in part by consolidating suppliers and using the dynamic pricing environment of Amazon Business.
“When we look at healthcare vendors, we often find that their products are simply too expensive for us to purchase,” said Koppelman. “Using Amazon Business allows our staff to find a wide array of healthcare products. And while some vendors only have one or two options, we find that Amazon Business will have 20 or more options for us to choose from,” she said. “When we’re able to get what we need cost-effectively, that allows us to put our resources into what matters most: providing high quality care for our patients.”
As if providing quality healthcare and social services for tens of thousands of participants isn’t challenging enough, the COVID-19 crisis has strained Mary’s Center. They’re incurring unexpected challenges with the global disruption of medical supplies and increased expenses. The team at Mary’s Center is working with Amazon Business to obtain critical supplies for their staff on the front lines, helping vulnerable communities during this pandemic.
“It’s been really challenging to get the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff,” said Koppelman. “These supplies keep them safe while they’re providing care to those who are potentially sick, and there’s been an extreme shortage to these supplies,” she said. “While it has been difficult to get these supplies quickly with other vendors, through Amazon Business’ COVID-19 Supplies store, we’re getting what we need quickly, such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, gowns, face shields, gloves, and even sanitizer and disinfectant wipes,” she said. “The supplies we are getting from Amazon Business are high quality, and at reasonable prices.”
According to Koppelman, leveraging Amazon Business for their healthcare operation helps them in several ways. They can focus on delivering quality care, set budgets and delegate the purchasing of products for individual centers, and maintain oversight into spending. “Amazon Business is a user-friendly way to help our staff get more engaged in finding and buying the right products at the best price,” she said. “From dashboards for ongoing auditing, familiar user experience, and the ability for centers to submit orders to our central administration with Approval Workflows, we don’t get slowed down, and can see the details of our purchases and easily compare in one place,” she said.
“Mary’s Center is how healthcare is supposed to work—everyone is so passionate, everyone is working towards our mission of helping people,” said Koppelman. “Amazon Business has been a partner to do the important work we’re doing. Across the organization, across departments, we’re really happy with the selection we’re getting from the store – from school supplies, to medical needs.”
“Using Amazon Business—our staff can look and find a wide array of healthcare products, and while some vendors only have one or two options, we find that Amazon Business will have 20 or more options for us to choose from. When we’re able to get what we need cost-effectively, that allows us to put our resources into what matters most: providing high quality care for our patients.”
— Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer, Mary's Center
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1Institute for Alternative Futures, 2012
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