Written by: Diana Hembree and Weslei Gabrillo

Marin Community Clinic is a cheerful, bustling place, whose waiting room is packed with parents and small children on their mother or father’s lap or playing games like patty-cake. The clientele of the clinic — a federal qualified health center – are mostly Spanish speaking and many are new arrivals. Almost all of them are living below the poverty line.

“They’re facing a lot of challenges,” Dr. Tracey Hessel says of the clinics’ families. “And what I see when they come in to take care of their children is their hopes for the future of their children and their children’s future.”

One initiative the clinic has taken to better their children’s future — with the help of a program of the Center for Care Innovations called Resilient Beginnings — is to screen for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and social needs.  This way the clinic can help families with referrals for food, housing, jobs and counseling, if necessary, and work with parents and children on trauma and other mental health issues they may be facing.

With the support of Resilient Beginnings, Marin Community Clinics has become a statewide leader in its ACE’s training model, and response programs. 

“I think learning about ACEs has been very central, especially in our position here at the front office,” says MCC front desk supervisor Brenda Moreo.We are like the first front of the line, right, when a patient walks in. And we make sure that we are actually actively listening, making sure our tone, body language, and choice of words don’t cause any triggers to our patients, and always making sure that they feel understood. That’s what we’re here for, to help them, guide them through anything that they may need.”

Cayenne Bierman, director of complex care, agrees. “Patients that get enrolled in complex care are typically some of the most vulnerable patients that we serve. I’ve provided case management in a variety of settings outside of a primary care clinic. But now working within a primary care clinic, an integrated primary care clinic, I’ll never go back. I mean, I feel like this is the model.”  




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