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Serving The Silenced

Philadelphia is loud! From the trains and buses to the shouts of vendors and the face past crowds, Philadelphia was a kaleidoscope of bright lights and sounds, or in other words utter chaos. Coming from a small town in upstate New York, the fast paced lifestyle of Philadelphia was a bit overwhelming. As with all things, as time went by I became more comfortable and accustomed to Philadelphia. The loud chaotic noises became background noise, and the large overwhelming city became my backyard. However, as the noise settled and the bright lights of the city faded, I began to notice the silenced parts of the city. I began to wonder how the same city that was so bright and vibrant had seemingly turned its back to many in need. After each day serving at Mary Howard Health Center, my ears became increasingly more fine-tuned to the outcry of the individuals that have been rendered voiceless and helpless in the streets of Philadelphia.

Walking down 9th street in Center City many people would never know that Mary Howard Health Center even exists let alone all of the incredible work they do. Mary Howard Health Center was established in 1997 and since then the health center has helped thousands of individuals that were previously incarcerated and/or experiencing homelessness. This is no small task. What goes into caring for a patient experiencing life on the streets or being dismissed from a 20 year prison sentence right into the streets with the expectation they will find their way is unfathomable. The nurse practitioners here at Mary Howard Health Center do not have well visits; the patients that come to this health center have chronic and debilitating life conditions that many other care facilities would be overwhelmed to take on. Social workers spend time, sometimes hours, with patients to help sort out their utilities and even get a W-2 form printed out. Making appointments, coordinating transportation and organizing medicines into pill containers is just a small part of what the staff does to ensure our patients not only have appointments but are able to make it to the appointment.

These past few months I have come home from work with many thoughts as to how Mary Howard Health Center is able to accomplish all that they do. The difference I have found here at Mary Howard is that these nurses care with immense passion. Whether it’s a patient that is a recovering addict, or someone who has served 10 years in prison, or even someone who just found out they have terminal cancer, the care is all the same; with immense passion. I am overwhelmed with hope for the world after seeing all the good the staff here at Mary Howard does. In my first few weeks at Mary Howard, my patients told me I was in for an incredible journey. They continuously shared stories and experiences of why they loved Mary Howard Health Center so much. I am six months in and am so incredibly grateful to have met so many inspiring individuals that have truly helped me open my mind to the world.

Hillary Miller: Mary Howard Health Center in Philadelphia, PA

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