Rx: Laughter

Life around Mercy Health Clinic is a study in human emotions. Many patients arrive in a state of of pain and anxiety. After treatment we see a shift to gratitude, hope, and joy.

And yes, we see a fair amount of humor.

One day I was visiting the Clinic and I stopped for a hallway chat with one of our volunteer physicians. Somehow we got on the topic of the strong doctor-patient relationships that are formed over the course of treatment. This particular physician is an OB/GYN. He told me that late one Sunday night he got a phone call from one of his female patients. It went something like this:

“Hello Doctor, I’m calling because I’ve got this awful pain.”

“OK, tell me more; where does it hurt and when did it start?”

“It started on Friday. I was having trouble with this one tooth, so I scheduled a dental appointment and my dentist worked on it. However, it’s still giving me a lot of pain and I don’t know what to do.”

“I understand. What did your dentist say when you told him it was still hurting?”

<Confused pause>

“…Oh, I never called him. I didn’t want to bother him.”


We shared a belly laugh over this story, and I could tell that this physician could not have been more good-natured about the incident. To him, it was just part of the fabric of Mercy Health Clinic, and one of the many things that kept him coming back to volunteer with us. To me, it spoke so highly of the trust and regard that our patients have for our outstanding providers.

And so we tip our hats to the caregivers of Mercy Health Clinic. Your knowledge, wisdom, and good humor lift us all. Together we’ve built a medical home for our patients that offers dignity, comfort, and sometimes even healing laughter. 

Christopher Perez
Chairman, Board of Directors

A Toast

Several weeks after our successful leadership transition at Mercy Health Clinic, I had a chance to get together very informally with our former (John Kleiderer) and current (Mark Foraker) Executive Directors. Call it our own personal “Beer Summit” but it was something we had promised each other we’d do and I’m glad we made it happen.

We didn’t talk a lot about business. That’s what Board meetings and conference calls are for. Instead, we talked about summer plans, parenting, fishing trips, and flooded basements. We learned about John’s upcoming 4-day drive from D.C. to Spokane to join his wife and children (with the family dog riding shotgun). Mark told us about his search for a new truck and we had to grill him on every feature and option. Just old-fashioned conversation among three people who were genuinely happy to be in the moment. Plenty of laughs and easy-going camaraderie.

As we talked and enjoyed our cold beer, I had to smile from a sense of gratitude for these two gentlemen. There I sat with two very dedicated professionals who brought something special to their work— heart. I was thankful that our Clinic had been able to attract people of their caliber to important leadership roles. On behalf of the patients we serve, I was thankful that they had chosen to make the Clinic their calling.

This is my virtual but heartfelt toast of thanks to John and Mark. Please join me in wishing each of them the very best.

Chris Perez
Chairman, Board of Directors
Mercy Health Clinic



Left to Right: John Kleiderer, Chris Perez, Mark Foraker

To the Torch Bearers


Dear Friends of Mercy Health Clinic,

The Clinic receives a continuous influx of gratitude from the neighbors we serve in Montgomery County. But gratitude flows outward from the Clinic as well. As we enter our 15th year of service to the less fortunate of our community, we pause to thank those who make our work possible:


* Volunteer providers who donate thousands of hours of primary and specialty care expertise every year
* Volunteer staff who provide nursing and clinical support, translation, eligibility screening, patient navigation and related administrative services
* In-kind partners who donate laboratory and radiological support services, legal and financial guidance, and pharmaceutical products
* Generous corporate and individual donors who believe in our mission and support our growing financial needs
* Our public funders and advocates who recognize the Clinic’s important role within the safety net healthcare system of Montgomery County
* An all-volunteer Board of Directors who share their wisdom and experience in guiding the Clinic’s direction
* A lean paid staff who keep our clinical and administrative operations humming along

However you may fit into the categories above, you are critical to us! You have made our vision become a reality. Your contributions are inspiring and are making a difference right here in our community.

A wise person said: “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” Here’s to you, the “torch bearers” of Mercy Health Clinic!

In gratitude,

Christopher Perez
Chairman, Board of Directors


With Gratitude…

Our Heart of Mercy Gala on April 5, 2014 at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC, was a huge success. The venue, the decorations, the dinner, but most of all, the energy of our generous patrons, all combined to create a night to remember. We even set a new attendance record.

The following letter appeared in the Gala program booklet. We’d like to share it again in this blog installment because its sentiments of gratitude and optimism bear repeating!

“Dear Friends of Mercy Health Clinic,

In our busy lives and with all the marvels of modern medicine at our disposal, we can sometimes overlook the true value of our healthcare. We may even take it for granted. It’s there when we need it and we schedule it into our hectic routines.

But for a large segment of our community, this is not the case. The lack of healthcare options is a burden that wears on thousands of individuals and families right here in our area. With nowhere else to turn when illness strikes, these low-income, uninsured neighbors rely on safety net facilities like Mercy Health Clinic.

Your generosity helps keep this lifeline in place. On behalf of the patients we serve, thank you.

There’s nothing quite like the gift of health because it affects both the giver and the recipient. The laying of hands and the art of healing are deeply moving and profoundly human experiences that are shared by the caregiver and the patient. At Mercy Health Clinic, we are inspired by the gratitude, relief, and renewed hope expressed by the people we serve. We hope you are lifted up as well; you deserve a share because you are an intrinsic part of every story that unfolds here at the Clinic.

For all of the time, talent, treasure, and moral encouragement you share with us throughout the year, you have our deepest gratitude.

Christopher Perez, Chairman, Board of Directors

John Kleiderer, Executive Director”



My Journey with the Clinic

I’m Chris Perez, and I serve on the Board of Directors of the Mercy Health Clinic. In 2014 I’ll be honored to take on the role of Chair of the Board. I’ve been humbled and inspired as I’ve watched the Clinic grow and establish itself as a beacon of compassion in our area. I’d like to share a few personal observations about the Clinic and what it has come to mean to me.

I’m proud to say that I was present at the ribbon-cutting for the original Clinic location in Germantown back in 2000. Like many people, my wife and I first became involved as financial supporters of the Clinic. From there it was a natural progression and I found myself volunteering on various Clinic committees. Board service soon followed. At some point I realized that the Mercy Health Clinic had quietly worked its way into my heart. It has a way of doing that.

We give and receive

Mercy Health Clinic asks for no payment in return for the medical services it delivers. Yet many transactions take place every day we’re open. Our patients bring their illnesses and anxieties, and they exchange them for specialized care and renewed hope. They bring their pain and sometimes their tears. They leave with comfort and a caring smile. In each and every case, the people we treat leave behind more than they take. Their overwhelming gratitude is palpable and it keeps our volunteers energized and uplifted.

Those who support the Clinic as donors and volunteers benefit in other ways, too. We find that our view of the world is lifted upward and outward. Our own worries and concerns are put into stark contrast with those of the people we serve. The Clinic helps us focus on the needs of others.

In speaking with our physicians and clinical staff, I often hear that some patients are reluctant to ask for help. There are many possible explanations: cultural mores, pride, even denial about the severity of their illnesses. As the stewards of the Mercy Health Clinic, we can’t afford to be reluctant in asking for YOUR help on behalf of all our patients. We hope we’re able to touch your hearts in a way that opens them to the needs right here in Montgomery County. Please consider getting involved in some way, as a donor, committee volunteer, clinical caregiver, translator, greeter; there are many entry points.

Looking ahead

The Clinic’s tagline is “Quality health care from the heart for those in need.” That’s a theme that you will see woven throughout this website. We’re doing our best to embody those words with every patient we treat.

The low-income, uninsured adults we serve are facing ongoing challenges. Even with the changes sweeping our healthcare system, many of them are still left on the sidelines. Ironically, even though we live in one of the most affluent areas of the U.S., there are tens of thousands of our neighbors who rely on Mercy Health Clinic as a safety net.

In future posts I plan to tell you more about the good works of the Mercy Health Clinic. We’ll feature our patients, profiles of our volunteer staff, and other stories from the heart that show how we’re helping people. I hope you’ll decide to be a part of one of these stories.