Monday, May 19, 2014

Three Years Later: Our Medical and Dental Clinics in (new) Silver Spring facility serve thousands of low-income families

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

From humble beginnings, our medical clinic and our dental clinic in Maryland operated for many years out of a home in Langley Park. The clinics grew and expanded, with many patients waiting for the chance to see a doctor. Almost all of them were uninsured.

April 11, 2014 marked the three year anniversary since our clinics relocated to nearby Silver Spring, taking root in a brand new facility far better equipped to manage the needs of so many patients. We were able to implement an Electronic Health Records system to help track patients between our DC and Maryland locations.

Workspace for doctors and nurses in our new medical clinic allows
for greater collaboration in treating patients.
Edwin Velis and Mary Vigil
“The new Electronic Health Records system is a great plus for the level of care we are proving at the facility, “ said Edwin, Medial Clinic Manager. “Although expensive to maintain, the new system is great for managing patient care across clinics, when referring patients to an in house specialist, and sending out appointment reminders to patients. Currently the system can be translated into English and Spanish but this summer we are upgrading to include more languages.”

Just a few members of the great team at the dental clinic.
A client waits to see the dentist.
Since the relocation, staff now serves individuals from 66 countries including Columbia, EL Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. More than 70 percent of patients are Montgomery County residents. While there are some new patients, many have been with the center for years. Maria Vivaldo has been a patient at the center for seven years, and is enjoying the benefits of the relocation.

“I have been with the center since it was in Langley Park a few years ago. This location is definitely better. It has more security, better services, more staff, better equipment, and a lot more space,” said Maria. “My best memory was the Zumba classes at Langley Park. I got to exercise and had a fun time.”

Director of Medical Services Mary Vigil noted the change that the new facility has produced in her team.

“The change has been great for the team, and we are still looking to improve. Now we are looking at how we can improve our patient numbers, acclimate our services with the Affordable Care Act to ensure quality care, and hopefully add a specialty suite area," said Mary. “Through it all staff has been stable and consistent, they really know the definition of a team.”

Also located at the same location is the McCarrick Center Dental Clinic.  Just down the hall from our medical clinic, the dental program treated more than 1,200 patients last year. The services of the clinic focus on preventive care as well as more advanced procedures to restore dental health. The program started as a two-year pilot program open two days per week in Silver Spring. 

From there in 2008 the program moved to Bethesda into a subleased private dental office with four chairs. Then in 2010 the program began full time operation in the McCarrick Center. Since then, the clinic has been able to expand and see many more patients. Currently, staff is booking check-ups well into September!

It all started with the programs Director of Dental Services Livia Amezcua and Dental Clinical Director Ali Fassihi, who considered them both to be the “founding parents” of the pilot program. Dr. Fassihi says they had one objective, “ to get patients out of infections and stabilize them orally to make them socially presentable to get a job.”

Staff in the dental department have done their due diligence according to longtime patient Mariana Martinez. She has been with the same dentist, Dr. Pengratz, since the days in Bethesda. She said, “I like the new services here. I can come here for all my services. The best thing that has ever happen to me is getting my partials put in. I went 11 years without front teeth and it was really hard to smile and eat, but now I am very happy and smile all the time.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

Música y Sueños: A Night of Salsa, Sueños and Sweets

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In its second year, our fun, new-ish event Música y Sueños was nothing short of a huge success. Held in the beautiful National Women in the Arts Muesum in downtown DC, the event offers the excitement and glamor of a Gala for the young professionals in the city who want to get involved.  Música y Sueños specifically focuses on raising support for Catholic Charities service to Hispanic immigrants and others from around the world. We had a good time dancing to Latin-inspired music and nibbling on some great tapas-style offerings.

More important than the decorations and dancing, however, were the guests who came out to support the sueños (dreams) of DC's immigrant community.

"This is truly a special event—not because of the great food or music or venue, but because of the great people who are here this evening making the event a success," said Juan Pablo Segura, who chaired the event. The Segura family have been longtime supporters of Catholic Charities' Spanish Catholic Center and Juan Pablo carried on that support through his leadership of the evening.

Check out our evening and keep an eye out for future events! 


The evening was sprinkled with international dance, including salsa lessons and a tango performance.



Dr. Eduardo Gerlein, an orthodontist at the dental clinic, spoke to guests about his experience as a Catholic Charities volunteer and why it is important for him to provide orthodontic services to the local immigrant community.


New this year, attendees enjoyed treats from District Doughnut and a barista bar.

View the entire album here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Urgent! Southern Maryland Food Bank Needs Food Donations

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Catholic Charities Press Release: 

Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties major bulk food supplier in need of dry goods

A combination of high demand and low donations has put the Catholic Charities Southern Maryland Food Bank in dire need of food donations immediately. The food bank is in need of items such as pasta, rice, canned food and other dry goods for its distribution this coming Monday, May 5.

Effective immediately, we are asking the community to donate dry food items to the Irongate location, at 22A Irongate Drive, Waldorf, MD, 20652.

Each Monday, the food bank needs at least 15,000-18,000 pounds of food for distribution to meet the demands of its member food pantries.  Southern Maryland Food Bank currently has 10,000 pounds ready for distribution, but needs at least 8,000 more by Monday to meet the very basic needs of the community.

Examples of dry goods needed include: canned food items (tuna, vegetables, fruit) and other dry food items (macaroni and cheese, beans, rice). 

The Southern Maryland Food Bank supports the necessary work of local food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and group homes in feeding those who cannot afford food.  For more information on how you can assist one of Southern Maryland’s most vital resources in serving  those in need, please visit:

The Southern Maryland Food Bank is open for donation drop off on Saturday between 10:00AM - 12:00 PM and then opens again on Monday morning at 7:30 AM.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington meets the most pressing human needs,  serving more than 116,000 people annually through 65-plus programs in 48 locations throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. We serve everyone who comes to us in need. Catholic Charities is accredited by the national Council on Accreditation. For more information, visit