Marram Health Center in Gary: Making an Impact for 6 Months & Counting - July 15, 2016

Courtesy of • July 15, 2016

Written by: Colleen Hannon

In the short time that Marram Health Center has been open in Gary, the center and all those involved have made the health and wellbeing of every person in the community their top priority.

Marram Health Center offers many services, including adult primary care, family planning, a diagnostic lab, well child and pediatric care, counseling and referrals, medication management, health insurance enrollment, and many community outreach services.

Over the past six months, Marram’s Outreach Team has partnered with numerous organizations and held many events for the community. To date, the clinic has served over 1,300 patients.

In June, Marram held a “Daddy’s Little Princess” event, in which dads and their little princesses came dressed up for a Royal Day of activities, food, giveaways and health screenings.

Another event was “Being Healthy Being Well, Mind and Body” at South Shore Commons. The event offered health topics discussed by local physicians and therapists, an Ask the Doctor Session, information on stress relief techniques, and activities like meditation and yoga.

In May, Marram also participated in the City of Gary’s Blight Buster Day. Staff and members of the community collected trash, planted flowers, edged sidewalks, cleared debris, and generally worked to spruce up the area surrounding their clinic, along Broadway and north towards Interstate 80/94.

The Outreach Team at Marram says events help them connect with the community. The Team’s common goal is to reach out to people no matter where they are. “We want them to know about health and how important it is to eat healthy, live healthy, be healthy.” said Outreach Coordinator, Nina Johnson.

Johnson expressed that reaching out to the community to help people get proper healthcare is so important to her and the team that she tries to reach out to almost everyone she meets, including those of us here at the Life Network.

“For example, I’m looking at you and thinking, ‘do you need to see the doctor?’ Because we always think that way. We think about people being healthy, going to the doctor, you know, not being afraid to make that appointment.” said Johnson.

Marram Health Center often provides presentations and health education to community groups, local homeless shelters, and people in low-income housing. “We want to encourage our community to think about health,” said Johnson. “Sometimes you don’t think about it until you hear someone talking about something that’s important to you.”

Another one of Marram Health Center’s many goals is to provide preventative care. “I think our whole mindset with health centers has been to take preventative measures in our communities, and that’s proven to produce better outcomes for our country,” said Will Miller, Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator and Certified Indiana Navigator.

Not only does Marram work to get everyone the health care they need, regardless of their ability to pay, but they also help with referrals when necessary. They link patients in need to food and clothing resources, housing placement, help with utilities, behavioral services, and help signing up for medical insurance.

Community partnerships help Marram facilitate total health for residents in NWI who are in need. Marram has partnered with many local organizations, including Sojourner Truth House, Brother’s Keeper, Methodist Hospitals, Edgewater Behavioral Health Services, Fagen Pharmacy, Gary Pediatric & Family Dentistry, Gary Housing Authority, Continuum of Care Network of NWI, and YWCA and Girl Scouts of NWI.

To take total health to the next level, the Marram team is also creating a community garden in the grass behind its facility. Raised garden beds will provide fresh produce to the Gary area, like tomatoes, squash, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers and even sunflowers.

“When patients come in, we’ll be able to give them fresh produce,” said Christina Crawley, Community Outreach Specialist. “Also, we will work with the kids who might not have ever seen how food is grown.”

The gardens will offer a place for children to engage in meaningful activity while they are waiting for their appointments, to learn about gardening and healthy choices. Staff members will also be able to use the gardens as a therapeutic tool. Marram is working with Purdue Extension Nutrition Education to provide recipes to families so they can learn how to cook these fresh foods.

According to Crawley, many patients struggling to care for their medical health have also neglected their vision and dental care. To address these needs, Marram has contractual agreements with other offices like Gary Pediatric & Family Dentistry and Moses EyeCare, where Marram can refer patients. Fortunately, the discount Marram offers can be carried over and applied at some other facilities. These contracts help people with basic health care plans to access necessary services, even if they do not have dental or vision coverage. Recently, Marram received news that it has been approved to expand its services to onsite dental care at their office at 3229 Broadway.

Along with dedicated outreach, nursing, and reception teams, Marram Health Center has an impressive team of medical providers like Medical Director, Dr. Roland Walker, who recently won the IBE Governor’s Award for Health Care Professional of the Year. Additional caregivers include Dr. Douge Barthelemy (pediatrics), Dr. Charles Motley Jr. (internal medicine), Dr. Kobie Douglas (psychiatry), Dr. Fadi Alzeidan (family practice), Stephanie Igwebuike (family nurse practitioner), Dr. Timothy Ames (family practice), Michelle Breunig (family nurse practitioner), Diane Spoljoric (family nurse practitioner), and Laura Uzelac (clinical social work).

Marram Health Center’s employees all share a common goal: to help people not only be healthy physically and mentally, but also to be safe and to get the things they need to survive, whether it’s housing, clothing or hygiene products.

“This is a great place to work, and it’s definitely a great place for care.” said Johnson. “We’ve lived by this idea since day one.”