Connecting women to healthcare for life
By Karna Swanson/Denver Catholic
When a woman finds herself in a crisis pregnancy, she needs more than a free test and a referral; she needs a connection to a wide network of support that can help her navigate this life-changing event.
This is the vision behind Marisol Health, an initiative of Catholic Charities that seeks to consolidate the current offerings available to women facing unexpected pregnancies with little material, emotional or spiritual resources, while also creating a network of clinics that offer women affordable comprehensive healthcare.
According to Jan McIntosh, vice president of women’s services at Catholic Charities, Marisol is a unique model for women’s healthcare that is a natural outgrowth of the “continuum of care” approach that currently drives the operations of Catholic Charities. And, she added, it’s something they’ve already been doing.
“The most important thing we can do is walk with a woman on her journey. Being able to have a close relationship, plug her in and set her up for success with the resources of Catholic Charities is beautiful.”
“We’ve had the infrastructure, [and] we’ve had the ability to connect women, men, and families into the other services of Catholic Charities,” she told the Denver Catholic, such as those that “help women both with decision making around what to do with their pregnancy, but also other areas in their lives that were causing them stress.”
Examples include connecting women to social services such as emergency shelter, child care, victim assistance, and counseling, as well as material help such as diapers and other needs for moms with newborns.
McIntosh noted that connecting women to these services won’t be through a referral. “We actually have a person on site who can connect them immediately,” she said. “That’s what we find is really critical—it’s establishing that relationship and that trust. Particularly when women are at a point of vulnerability.”
Additionally, Marisol forged a partnership with Bella Natural Women’s Care, a medical clinic in Englewood, to expand its services even more to include a full complement of women’s health care that allows for convenient and affordable options for testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, care of adolescent girls, abortion pill reversals, ultrasounds, natural family planning, infertility care, obstetrics including prenatal care, delivery and post-partum, problem gynecology and menopause.
McIntosh said that the relationship with Bella is what sets Marisol apart: “What makes us unique from the model where we were functioning and where many of the pregnancy centers across the country are functioning right now, is that they do largely the initial pregnancy testing, maybe some STD testing, and ultrasounds. Many clinics are not then able to offer the full complement of prenatal care, overall woman’s care.”
“What we know is women feel whole through this continuum of care,” said Dede Chism, nurse practitioner and director of Bella. “The most important thing we can do is walk with a woman on her journey. Being able to have a close relationship, plug her in and set her up for success with the resources of Catholic Charities is beautiful.”
Marisol Health will begin with two clinics: one in Denver, in what was formerly known as Lighthouse, and one in Lafayette, CO. The Denver office is currently open and the Lafayette office is projected to open in early October.
In addition to these clinics, Marisol will run an outreach office on the campus of CU Boulder.
For more information, visit MarisolHealth.com.
Josh Florence contributed to this report.