NAFC Board Spotlight: Meet Stephanie Garris

Stephanie Garris is a member of the NAFC Board and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Grace Medical Home in Orlando, FL.  Stephanie has a lengthy career in civic activism and community service. Prior to working at Grace, she served as Executive Director for the American Cancer Society in Central Florida and held several positions in the federal legislative arena when she lived in Washington, D.C., including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.

About Grace Medical Home

Grace Medical Home wants to close the gap between those who enjoy quality medical care and those who do not. Currently, almost one in four in Central Florida lacks health insurance. The visionary leaders of Grace Medical Home sought to fill a void in their local healthcare system and developed a solution to remove the burden from the current healthcare community, including hospitals, ER’s and urgent clinics.

Grace Medical Home provides the following services: Sick visits, well visits and check-ups, vaccinations, health screenings for children at every stage, medications (limited), regular care for chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, lab services like checking blood, urinalysis, etc., X-rays, health education and healthy living advice, referrals to social services, mental health and counseling services and spiritual care.

Here are a few interesting stats from the clinic last year:

  • 11,193 patient visits took place
  • $1,100,000+ worth of avoided costs to local emergency rooms was reported
  • $2,564,742 worth of prescriptions were donated and dispensed to patients
  • 15,385 volunteer hours were given

To learn more about Grace Medical Home, please visit https://www.gracemedicalhome.org/.

Lifelong Learning – Spanish Immersion Program

This past month Stephanie was given a leave of absence to fulfill her dream of completing a Spanish Immersion program in Barcelona called Don Quijote, along with her children.  Her goal is to be able to better communicate with the Spanish speaking patients that attend Grace Medical Home.  Hear more about the experience from Stephanie:

“I am in the beginner class (there are two of them) and it moves at lightening speed. We are in class from 9 until 1 and it is taught only in Spanish. It focuses on grammar and vocabulary with the goal of equipping us with the basics to communicate.  We will study lessons and then have to give presentations to each other.  For instance, we had to present our family tree after we studied that unit, or we had to write a paragraph on our daily routine and have our classmates ask us questions.  My class has 5 people in it, so it's not intimidating and we are all very supportive of each other. We then have an hour break for lunch and go into our conversation class which is a larger group - about 10 of us -- where we are asked all sorts of questions and we talk only in Spanish."

"This program is a lot harder than I anticipated, but I am loving it.  I have a much deeper appreciation for the frustration our providers and our patients must feel when they can't communicate with each other.  There have been several times when I have wanted to cry because I couldn't find the right words or answer a question correctly.  And, when I practice with a cab driver or someone in the grocery store, I get more insecure about my ability to communicate which leads to greater frustration.  It has been a humbling and tremendous learning opportunity. While I don't think I'll come back with enough knowledge to be a translator for our patients, I do think I'll be able to practice and get better over time, which I plan on doing.  It is amazing and I am so thankful for this opportunity!”

Stephanie has now completed the program and is “leaving with wonderful memories and a much deeper understanding of Spanish language and culture.”