Sr. Maura Brannick, CSC
Founder, Sister Maura Brannick Health Center
Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center
Sr. Maura Brannick is a master of inspiration, a woman of deep faith, profound kindness, endless energy, resolute determination and humble, courageous leadership. Her own inspiration comes from those to whom she has dedicated her life’s work: the poor, the underserved, the most vulnerable in her community.
In the mid-1980s, Sr. Maura sought to offer basic health care services to the indigent, homeless and undocumented people of South Bend, Ind.
A registered nurse, she began to visit people in their homes to check their blood pressures. Once she realized the great need to offer more than this, she invited physicians from the local community to volunteer their services. She sought funding from her religious community, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, and from Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka to support her primary care service.
Sister’s vision was to staff a small clinic with nurses and to recruit one or two physicians who would accept referrals of the sickest patients. Once word spread about her idea, the response from physicians was much greater than she expected. In 1986, she opened her health care clinic in a rundown two-stall carriage house. By its third month of operation, physicians were volunteering their time at the small clinic, and within a year, plans were underway to move the clinic into a larger facility.
After the move in 1989, both the number of patients and the number of volunteers grew until in 1997 it was decided to build a new building to house the health center. Sr. Maura and the rest of the clinic staff wanted the new center to serve as a community center and not simply a clinic. As a result, the health center features a community meeting room, a food pantry, prayer room, and exercise room. A three-operatory dental clinic, staffed largely by volunteer dentists and hygienists, performs most needed basic dental work and X-rays.
The health center provides care exclusively for patients who have absolutely no form of health insurance. The clinic charges a nominal fee of $5 per visit, if a patient can pay that. The fee covers not just a physician and nurse visit, but also all prescriptions, needed imaging and lab services and, if appropriate, referral to specialists in the community.
Nurtured by a faithful prayer life, Sr. Maura now continues her health care ministry at her convent where she visits and comforts ill sisters, accompanies those who are dying and organizes activities that contribute to the well-being of her community.