As Clinica Tepeyac, Denver, prepares to observe its 25th anniversary this year, leadership of the federally qualified health center invited three Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (SCLs) to reflect on the history and legacy of the agency. Jim Garcia, clinic chief executive officer (CEO), traveled to Leavenworth in early January and interviewed Sisters Marianna Bauder, Paula Rose Jauernig and Ann Schumacher for an anniversary video.
In 1993, Sister Marianna was president and CEO of Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver. In her prior leadership position at St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center, Grand Junction, Colo., she had been involved with the development of a clinic to serve the uninsured. She was able to share the process of this experience with Jim and others seeking to establish a clinic for Denver’s underserved Spanish-speaking population. Saint Joseph Hospital also donated cabinetry, exam tables and other items to help outfit Clinica Tepeyac.
Sister Paula Rose volunteered as a nurse and later as a board member of the new clinic. Sister Ann, a family physician, worked at Saint Joseph Hospital and initially volunteered at Clinica Tepeyac. She was its first medical director and helped liaison the hospital’s family practice residency program with the clinic.
Sister Ann identifies its faith-based foundation as a distinction of Clinica Tepeyac. Historically, this included connections with a local parish and with the hospital. “If the clinic hadn’t opened its doors 25 years ago, families would be struggling to figure out where to go for medical care,” she believes. “They would either put their health problems on the back shelf or use more emergency room services.”
Sister Paula Rose credits the clinic’s success to hundreds of volunteers and good grant writing. Sister Marianna says that Clinica Tepeyac has always sought to understand the needs of the people it serves and to develop needed services in response to these needs.
While the clinic is not an SCL-sponsored ministry, the Sisters perceive that Clinica Tepeyac’s mission to serve persons who are poor is clearly aligned with the religious Community’s mission. “St. Vincent de Paul sought out the poor and vulnerable,” Sister Marianna concludes. “That’s what the SCLs have continued to do and that’s what Clinica Tepeyac does.”