With its canyons and rivers, thriving university and downtown art, Grand Junction and surrounding quaint towns offer a desirable and beautiful place to live. But even more beautiful is the caring spirit and compassion of the people who live here.
MarillacHealth celebrates that caring spirit every day. 2023 marks the 35th year as a non-profit organization in Mesa County. That’s 35 years of changing lives, easing pain and restoring hope for thousands of neighbors and friends.
DEVASTATING ENERGY BUST
A glance back reminds us that Marillac’s origin was born out of economic strife. The 1980s were very challenging times in Mesa County. Major energy companies left unexpectedly in an event that came to be known to locals as Black Sunday. Almost overnight, thousands of previously well-paid workers became unemployed.
The workers not only lost their jobs, they lost their health insurance. And in the weeks and months that followed, some began to lose their homes. While some 15,000 people left the area, others chose to remain. A small work group of concerned citizens and leaders came together to address the medical needs of these uninsured families.
COMMUNITY LEADERS RALLY
A formal assessment confirmed that there were more than 13,000 locals with little or no medical care. Sister Marianna Bauder, who was serving as the president and CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital, challenged the community to respond. The work group conducted interviews and meetings to carefully understand the unmet needs. From these grassroots, the group proposed a “safety net clinic” be created with help from St. Mary’s Hospital, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (St. Mary’s parent organization) and key organizations throughout Mesa County. The idea for Marillac was born.
MARILLAC IS NAMED
As the project came to life, an elegant name was chosen: Marillac, in honor of Saint Louise de Marillac who lived in France in the 1600s. Louise was a deeply religious and high intelligent woman with a gift for nursing. After her husband’s death, she left her home in a fashionable quarter of Paris and devoted her life to the poor and the sick. She later worked with Vincent de Paul, founding the Sisters of Charity “servants of the poor.” Tireless and joyful, Louise worked alongside the poor and gave them a role in developing and operating health care clinics, orphanages, soup kitchens and prison ministries. Some of the places where she served can still be visited in Paris and parts of France even today.
THE EARLY DAYS
Marillac opened its doors on May 2, 1988 and began providing medical care to patients. In 1989 Marillac added optical care; in 1992, dental. As Marillac grew, the organization constantly searched for promising, new, innovative ideas. As a result, Marillac came to be known as an innovator and early adopter in health care solutions. In 1999 Marillac piloted a new concept which to this day remains its hallmark: integrated care. At Marillac, Behavioral Health Providers are embedded (integrated) within medical teams so that during medical appointments, patients can receive a supportive behavioral health care visit to help with problem-solving, goal setting and referrals to community resources. When desired, individual counseling and other therapies are also available. Integrated care is a very strong part of MarillacHealth’s mission.
Several accomplishments illustrate Marillac’s service to Mesa County. It has been our privilege to understand the community’s greatest health care needs and respond in bold action.
TODAY & TOMORROW
What began as a small organization for the uninsured has grown into MarillacHealth, a well-known, dynamic health care organization that provides primary medical care, behavioral health care, and a full scope of dental care. One of 1,400 Community Health Centers nationwide, annually MarillacHealth serves over 10,000 patients (birth to the end of life), warmly welcoming the uninsured and under-insured, homeless persons and migrant farmworkers, persons on Medicaid, Medicare and some private insurances. The caring spirit that gave rise to Marillac is steady and strong. Louise de Marillac would be pleased.