As part of MOM AZ’s 25th anniversary celebration, we’re visiting with past and present volunteers, patients and community partners who have been integral to MOM’s mission over the years. Today we connected with Marisue Garganta, who served as Director of Community Health Integration for St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, one of MOM AZ’s longest-standing community partners, for two decades before retiring in 2019.
When Mission of Mercy (MOM) first launched its operations in Arizona, MOM needed a fiscal agent in order to receive grants and donations. St. Joseph’s Foundation, which raised funds for the hospital’s charity clinics, turned out to be an ideal fit for this role. Early on, Marisue Garganta oversaw a legacy gift that MOM received from a corporate donor and helped foster a synergy with St. Joseph’s already-established mobile healthcare unit that provided maternal care to underserved women, a service that Mission of Mercy did not provide.
“There was a continuity of care between the two mobile units that was complementary,” Marisue recalls. “As the relationship between St. Joseph’s and Mission of Mercy expanded, we were able to provide a great deal of in-kind surgeries for MOM’s patients. Initially, all radiology services came through St. Joseph’s.”
Marisue also worked to develop MOM’s first patient referral partnership that allows direct referrals of uninsured patients from discharge to MOM as their medical home. This was piloted with St. Joseph’s and MOM now accepts referrals from any Dignity medical center across the Valley.
Much of the work over the first decade of operation was opening doors and building relationships, in addition to developing a plan for sustainability. Marisue was integral in supporting MOM in these activities and identifying ambassadors for MOM within the community. Along with former Executive Director Catherine Amiot, the two women worked together to establish the first advisory council for MOM comprised of healthcare leaders who believed in MOM’s mission to provide care to the uninsured.
“We are such a great nation, but we really stink when it comes to healthcare. There are those who can afford care and those who can’t. It shouldn’t be like that,” Marisue said. “We all deserve to lead healthy, safe and productive lives. MOM provides unencumbered healthcare at a moment in time when someone truly needs it.”
As MOM moves into its next 25 years of caring for the uninsured and underinsured in Arizona, Marisue believes the organization is really coming into its age.
“I know MOM will be part of the conversation of what the future of healthcare is going to look like and continue to be part of the solution,” she said. “There are always going to be people in that donut hole who lack healthcare coverage and don’t have a place to go. MOM will be there for them.”