Nurse Practitioner Mary Kay Meagher wanted a position working with the Hispanic population and came to the Indian-Chicano Center in 1990. “It was essentially a volunteer, store-front free clinic,” she said, “but it was an integral part of the community and growing quickly.” Initially run by Lutheran Family Services, it became clear that for continued growth and stability, a paid executive director would need to be hired, “so they hired me as Executive Director/Nurse Practitioner!” Meagher explained.
What started as a store-front at 20th and Martha, with four rooms, a waiting room and an office, has grown into a first-class Community Health Center known as OneWorld. “I asked Dr. Daniel Dietrich to be the medical director, and we worked really hard to get licensed and to raise the standards and quality of care. It was incredibly exciting,” she added. Dr. Dietrich passed away in 2013, and was honored posthumously for his work at this year’s Milagro dinner.
The clinic began with dental services and volunteer family practice for medical services two evenings a week providing services such as prenatal care and pediatrics. “I was always looking for connections…we really grew and there was great demand for our services,” said Meagher. Enter Community Vision, an organization that eventually became Alegent Health. “They had the money that we needed and we had the connections that they needed and we were able to move into a much larger and upgraded space at 24th and Martha Streets,” she explained. “Soon afterwards, a woman came in who wanted to work as a nurse practitioner. That woman was Eloise Poyner, who has been here now for 20 years, and the Board worked to hire her on a part time basis.” Another woman, Dr. Kris McVea, our current Chief Medical Officer, was looking for a place for her UNMC residents and services again expanded.
Meagher says that what is now OneWorld came together because of the work of a lot of people and she realized that growth would be impossible without someone who was focused on raising money and administration, so the role of executive director was split. She left the clinic for a missionary work in Bolivia, then came back and began teaching at Creighton University College of Nursing. “I needed to be in practice in order to be on the faculty, so I came back to the clinic part time. When I retired from teaching four years ago, Dr. McVea offered me a position with the School Based Health Centers. I stay with OneWorld because the mission is part of my DNA. The mission doesn’t just hang on the wall, it’s alive in the staff here at OneWorld.”