How Mary’s Center provides a compassionate approach to care


Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are an important piece of the health care puzzle throughout the country. They serve 30 million Americans (roughly 1 in 11 people) every year, including 1 in 8 children and 1 in 3 people who are living in poverty.

In Washington, D.C. and Maryland, the FQHC Mary’s Center has been serving nearly 60,000 people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds for over 30 years. What makes an FQHC, like Mary’s Center, special in the communities they serve goes beyond primary care. They are designed to address the whole needs of a community, including services like dental care, behavioral health, vision care and addressing social determinants of health.

Even beyond that, the Mary’s Center Social Change Model (SCM) provides social services, family literacy programs and job training under one roof. This allows for a single point of contact that brings many different forms of wraparound care together.

“In the midst of this pandemic, there's other health care needs,” said Erin Henderson Moore, executive director, Dual Special Needs Plans at UnitedHealthcare. “And we’re really trying to bring together our resources with our community-based partners' strengths to meet needs.”

UnitedHealthcare recognizes the important role Mary’s Center plays in the D.C. area and continues to support its efforts. In 2019, UnitedHealthcare donated 200 kits to new moms, which included essentials like diapers and gestational diabetes testing supplies. More recently, Mary’s Center provided no-cost HIV testing, COVID-19 testing and grocery giveaways as part of the Stop COVID effort. Mary’s Center collaborated with many other organizations to make the event a success in a hard-hit community in Washington, D.C.

As the needs of the community shifted from testing to vaccination, UnitedHealthcare provided four mobile vaccination units for Mary’s Center, which helped bring the vaccine to those who needed it. Hand sanitizer, masks and signage were also provided to the FQHC to help keep patients and staff safe at the facility.

“Having a partnership with UnitedHealthcare is very important, in that together we can really try to understand what it is that the community is looking for, and where the care gaps exist,” said Leah Shoval, director of Care Coordination at Mary’s Center.

Supporting Mary’s Center to help ensure they’re able to continue meeting the needs of their patients is only a small testament to the deep roots that the FQHC has in the community.

“(They) know the community better than we do. They serve the people daily,” Erin said. “So really, it’s about saying how can we support you? How can we support the work you’re already doing? And then bringing a team behind that.”

Transcript and closed captioning to be added by 12/1.