Faith-based nonprofit organization Mission of Mercy focuses on restoring dignity and providing a medical home for Coastal Bend patients.
By: Holly Duvall
Photos by: Paul Marshall
Just over 25 years ago, Gianna Talone Sullivan, an Arizona doctor, had a divine calling. A few short years later, she launched the faith-based nonprofit we know to be Mission of Mercy (MOM). The organization was introduced to the Coastal Bend, and it has been fulfilling its mission for almost nine years with the help and hearts of our local community’s husband-and-wife duo, Dr. John Navar and Lynette Navar, R.N., along with several other local doctors and volunteers.
“Healing through Love” on a mission to restore dignity is the MOM mantra. The group travels with their 40-foot mobile medical RV between five locations in the Coastal Bend, including two in Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Orange Grove and Robstown, to provide the highest level of free health care and assistance with medications to uninsured and underinsured working families. About 85 percent of the patients are indeed working individuals. It is the only source of health care and prescription medication assistance for many patients, to the tune of 3,000-plus being treated each year.
There are no government funds, nor is there any funding that requires the MOM patients to prove their poverty level, making this service unique in its own right. “The only qualification is walking though the door,” Dr. Navar exclaims. “We rely solely on donations from churches, the private sector, civic organizations, corporations, foundations and individuals to support us.”
There is barely a handful of staff that gets paid, as most are volunteers. They have a neurologist, a urologist and family practice doctors who volunteer to treat patients. Some of the physicians are retired, but there are some who come from CHRISTUS Spohn and other area hospitals on their day off. “We rely on those who want to give back and depend on the local medical practices and hospitals,” Dr. Navar says. “I’ve established connections during my 39 years in medicine, and they do give back, doing what they are good at, for the sheer love of medicine.”
Navar was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and attended medical school in Mexico City. He completed his anesthesia residency in Galveston. He has practiced anesthesiology in Corpus Christi for 39 years. He and his wife, Lynette, a native of Aransas Pass and graduate of Del Mar College’s nursing program, have four adult children. Both of their daughters have followed their calling for medicine; one is a nurse, and the other is a cardiologist in pediatrics at the Duke Medical Center. Their sons are a harbor pilot and a welder.
The primary goal is for MOM to become the medical home for patients. The three most common diagnoses seen there are:
Treating their patients with dignity and healing them with kindness is incentive for patients to continue receiving the care that is needed, keeping them well and out of the hospital and the emergency room. Collaborating with partners such as Radiology Associates, Radiology & Imaging of South Texas, CHRISTUS Spohn and Corpus Christi Medical Center also enables the patients to receive imaging and lab work free of charge.
Plus, Lynette, who also serves as the nursing director, and her volunteers go out of their way to make sure each patient is the “most important” patient, and that no matter what ailment they are enduring, they find treatment. They do whatever possible to assist with getting the proper medications at a grossly reduced cost, to provide the necessary bridges to other community health and wellness programs and to act as a gateway when the patient needs help working through extensive documents.
In fall 2017, thanks to a major measure of support from a local benefactor, MOM will open the doors to their own state-of-the art medical center at the corner of Baldwin and Ayers, across the street from Del Mar College’s Richard Auditorium in Corpus Christi. This is the next step to provide continued quality health care, as well as convenience to their patients.
The facility will include a clinic on the first floor with eight triage rooms, eight examination rooms, a waiting room for up to 100 patients, three offices, a registration area and more. The second floor will house nine administrative offices, a conference room, a work room, a large classroom and more.
Lynette expresses the group’s excitement about the opening of the center: “We are ecstatic! This will give us a chance to expand. Our patient population is really expanding, and we need to be able to expand the number of days and physicians. I’m really hoping to attract more volunteers also with this new building, so we couldn’t be happier. I think the time has come for us to do this. We will welcome this with open arms.”
The groundbreaking for the MOM Medical Center is tentatively set for this summer. To learn more about how you can partner with MOM on naming rights and recognition levels of giving, please contact Executive Director Sherry Bowers, CFRE, at 361-883-5500.