Introducing Marisol Health

Connecting women to healthcare for life

When a woman finds herself in a crisis pregnancy, she needs more than a free test and a referral; she needs a connection to a wide network of support that can help her navigate this life-changing event.

This is the vision behind Marisol Health, an initiative of Catholic Charities that seeks to consolidate the current offerings available to women facing unexpected pregnancies with little material, emotional or spiritual resources, while also creating a network of clinics that offer women affordable comprehensive healthcare.

According to Jan McIntosh, vice president of women’s services at Catholic Charities, Marisol is a unique model for women’s healthcare that is a natural outgrowth of the “continuum of care” approach that currently drives the operations of Catholic Charities. And, she added, it’s something they’ve already been doing.

The most important thing we can do is walk with a woman on her journey. Being able to have a close relationship, plug her in and set her up for success with the resources of Catholic Charities is beautiful.”

“We’ve had the infrastructure, [and] we’ve had the ability to connect women, men, and families into the other services of Catholic Charities,” she told the Denver Catholic, such as those that “help women both with decision making around what to do with their pregnancy, but also other areas in their lives that were causing them stress.”

Examples include connecting women to social services such as emergency shelter, child care, victim assistance, and counseling, as well as material help such as diapers and other needs for moms with newborns.

McIntosh noted that connecting women to these services won’t be through a referral. “We actually have a person on site who can connect them immediately,” she said. “That’s what we find is really critical—it’s establishing that relationship and that trust. Particularly when women are at a point of vulnerability.”

Additionally, Marisol forged a partnership with Bella Natural Women’s Care, a medical clinic in Englewood, to expand its services even more to include a full complement of women’s health care that allows for convenient and affordable options for testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, care of adolescent girls, abortion pill reversals, ultrasounds, natural family planning, infertility care, obstetrics including prenatal care, delivery and post-partum, problem gynecology and menopause.

Marisol Selects-5_DC

Marisol Health, headed by Jan McIntosh (right), is partnering with Dede Chism (left) and Bella Natural Women’s Care to provide women with affordable, comprehensive health care. (Photo by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

McIntosh said that the relationship with Bella is what sets Marisol apart: “What makes us unique from the model where we were functioning and where many of the pregnancy centers across the country are functioning right now, is that they do largely the initial pregnancy testing, maybe some STD testing, and ultrasounds. Many clinics are not then able to offer the full complement of prenatal care, overall woman’s care.”

“What we know is women feel whole through this continuum of care,” said Dede Chism, nurse practitioner and director of Bella. “The most important thing we can do is walk with a woman on her journey. Being able to have a close relationship, plug her in and set her up for success with the resources of Catholic Charities is beautiful.”

Marisol Health will begin with two clinics: one in Denver, in what was formerly known as Lighthouse, and one in Lafayette, CO. The Denver office is currently open and the Lafayette office is projected to open in early October.

In addition to these clinics, Marisol will run an outreach office on the campus of CU Boulder.

For more information, visit

Josh Florence contributed to this report.

COMING UP: Charities to establish permanent shelter for women

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To serve one of the most vulnerable populations in the Denver metro area, homeless single women, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver will open the city’s first long-term emergency center for women this month.

Homeless women make up 45 percent of the Denver’s homeless population comprised of 11,377 men, women and children, according to a policy brief by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in 2012.

“The United States has the largest number of homeless women among industrialized nations,” according to the brief, “and the highest number on record since the Great Depression.”

The shelter will open within an area of Charities’ existing Samaritan House—a shelter at 2301 Lawrence St. that serves 3,500 men, women and children each year. It will have capacity for 100 women and will be called Holy Rosary at Samaritan House. The permanent shelter will replace a temporary one established over the winter at Holy Rosary Church at 4688 Pearl St. in the Globeville neighborhood, near the Interstates 25 and 70 interchange.

“The zoning code around the current temporary shelter didn’t allow for a permanent shelter so we needed to find a new place by April 15,” said Geoff Bennett, vice president of shelter and community outreach services for Catholic Charities. “So we moved fast into finding a solution to shelter the women.”

The temporary shelter will close this spring. To provide the new shelter, Charities entered into an agreement with The Salvation Army to extend the Samaritan House men’s emergency overflow into The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Center. The Crossroads Center, located at 1901 29th St., is less than a mile from Samaritan House. It can accommodate up to 100 men per night.

“The Samaritan House emergency overflow program is not ending,” Bennett explained, “but instead is being continued at Crossroads Center. All the conveniences and amenities offered at Samaritan House to the men will be extended at Crossroads.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will also absorb the Salvation Army’s Red Shield program which currently houses 30 women.

“We are very excited to be working with The Salvation Army to continue our men’s shelter services,” Bennett said, “while opening a long-term emergency overnight shelter for women.”

Samaritan House is unique, he added, in that it is able to accommodate women, men and families under one roof.

“That is not the case for the majority of the other shelters that mostly take men only,” he said.

Each year, Samaritan House provides 118,000 nights of shelter and serves 240,000 warm meals. It is one of Charities’ four shelters in the archdiocese—along with Father Ed Judy House in Denver, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins—providing “love, safety, shelter, clothing, food and supportive services to help restore dignity, regain lost hope, and reclaim ownership of their lives and reintegrate into the community.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will open April 15.