With a ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony, a new door to health and wellness opens in Prince George's County
Prince George’s County residents have a brand-new place to call their health care home. The Catholic Charities – Susan Denison Mona Center (Mona Center) marked its official opening with a Formal Blessing and Ribbon Cutting ceremony on October 3, 2017.
Located in a large, former restaurant in the Camp Springs section in Temple Hills, the fully renovated Mona Center is an integrated multi-services facility providing comprehensive health, wellness and social resources to area residents. The creation of the Mona Center was made possible through a partnership between Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Maryland and the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity.
The grand opening marked the culmination of a years-long development process. In addition to a primary healthcare clinic operated by Doctors Community Hospital, the Mona Center also includes a full service dental clinic and a Legal Services Center – both operated by Catholic Charities. In coming months, the second floor of the building will be renovated as a state-of-the art health and wellness center operated by the Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) and the School of Public Health with faculty and students from across the College Park campus. Programs will include job readiness, physical activity, nutrition education, health literacy, family and couples therapy and access to healing gardens and a teaching kitchen where people will learn how to prepare healthy foods.
For the past two years, the Mona Center has also served as the focus of the School of Public Health’s Fearless Ideas courses, as undergraduate students use design thinking to develop innovative solutions to address the health needs of Prince George’s County residents. To date, 60 students have completed the course.
Prince George’s County has been identified as the wealthiest municipality with a majority African American population. However, there remain pockets of concentrated poverty, food deserts and medically underserved areas and dental health professional shortage areas. As such, far too many residents have limited or no access to quality health care. This is the context where the Susan Denison Mona Center is, as UMD President Wallace Loh described in his remarks during the ceremony, “a beacon of hope…the gospel put to life, put into practice,” for health and wellness not only for the immediate neighborhood, but also for the region as well. Rushern Baker III, the Prince George’s County Executive, praised the project for the partnership that brings services into the community where they are most needed.
Just before the ribbon was cut and the doors opened for the first time, Cardinal Donald Wuerl blessed the Mona Center and prayed for God’s blessing on everyone who serves and is served at the center and that “all those who come here will leave restored in spirit and body.”
The Mona Center brings the county one step closer to delivering quality and comprehensive health care to all its residents and combining a complete set of services in one-facility eases some of the burdens to access. People visiting the Mona Center “can receive primary care, dental services, counseling, and education, disease prevention and health promotion services all under one roof,” stated Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, M-CHE Director and professor in the Department of Health Services Administration. “They will be able to fill all their health care needs in one place, and learn about ways to improve their overall health while they’re here. With a single electronic health record, patient information can be shared seamlessly with different specialists offering various kinds of care. This kind of wraparound care, and the syncing of information across providers, is critical if we are going to reduce and eliminate health disparities among our vulnerable populations.”
The former restaurant building that houses the new facility was donated to Catholic Charities by Vincent “Cap” Mona in honor his late wife Susan Denison Mona.
More photos from the event can be viewed here.