The original Carmelite Sisters of Mercy are likely looking down and smiling at the latest development at the health system they started
In 1856 the Sisters of Mercy came to St. Louis and founded the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the St. Louis Province. In the beginning, they simply traveled around, taking their compassionate healthcare wherever it was needed.
Fifteen years later, in 1871, they established a 25-bed infirmary for women and children.
Today, Mercy is returning to its roots of taking its expertise to the communities across the state, many of which public health officials say have marginal care and physician shortages.
That is the plan of newly-appointed Mercy Foundation president Marilyn Geiger, who recent assumed her post. She has a history of working with philanthropic endeavors as well as financial expertise as a CPA.
Two promising initiatives are already underway
Mercy has created a free, online health curriculum available to any school district across the state. It is absorbing all the costs of the initiative. It’s called “Help Teachers.” The Edmond Public School District is among the largest that has signed up.
Teachers will actually be able to go online to obtain healthcare curricula to teach their students.
“We can begin to offer an approved healthcare curriculum enabling us to educate our kids about staying healthy so they won’t get sick,”
The initiative will require a substantial funding commitment according to hospital information.
A second initiative underway is installing affordable, walk-in clinics in places where large numbers of people congregate. That said, Walmart was an obvious launching pad.
There are clinics in the Walmart at Memorial Road and Pennsylvania and in Edmond at Danforth Road and Santa Fe.
Prices are roughly half those charged by many doctors in the medical community. Got instance, visits for simple illnesses run about $65. Some doctors charge closer to $100, or more. More complex services such as laboratory work can cost more, however.
Of course more clinics are planned.
Communities large and small, urban and rural are on Mercy’s radar for bringing healthcare to the people.
“Whether we have a facility there (in a community) or not,” Geiger said.
The idea is to make access to medical care easy, simple and affordable.
The healthcare system will be making its philanthropic efforts more of a cohesive effort statewide. Mercy has bought or taken over management of many rural hospitals across the state to bring better medical services to those areas.
“We have big plans for supporting healthcare and healthcare access throughout our network,” she said.
Geiger will also lead a team of fundraising professionals as Mercy continues to expand its initiatives into local neighborhoods and regional communities.
Geiger is former executive director for Norman Regional Health Foundation, where she developed close bonds with the philanthropic community. She was instrumental in growing and administering the foundation’s numerous grant programs, as well as raising money to build a new health complex.
The Mercy Foundation is able to help countless patients through its extensive fundraising ventures. Geiger’s talents in finance and fundraising will be used to foster growth across Mercy’s expanding network of medical facilities in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Enid, El Reno, Ardmore, Norman, Marietta, Healdton and Ada.
“This is an exciting day for Mercy as we welcome Marilyn as president of the Mercy Foundation,” said Di Smalley, CEO of Mercy in Oklahoma. “Marilyn brings a vast amount of experience in finance and fundraising. She also brings the heart of a servant – a heart that will serve her well in Mercy’s ministry.”
Geiger inherits a strong team of Mercy Foundation directors already rooted in Oklahoma.
“I’m excited about having the opportunity to work with Marilyn,” said André Moore, director of Mercy Memorial Health Center Foundation in Ardmore. “She brings a wealth of experience and expertise that I feel will enable us to further grow and develop.”
Kay Oliver, executive director of Mercy Foundation in Oklahoma City, believes future possibilities are limitless.
“The Mercy Foundation has had great community support over the years, and we’ve seen Mercy grow as the community has grown,” Oliver said. “The foundation has played an important role in that growth, and I look for the foundation to play an even bigger role in the coming months and years.”
Earlier this year the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants named her the 2010 “Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry.”
She has community and professional affiliations with organizations such as the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning and Oklahoma Planned Giving Council.