Dedicated to expanding the availability of affordable, high-quality primary health care services, Dr. Mary Bufwack’s creative leadership can be seen across the state of Tennessee and beyond.
After finding her way to Nashville in 1982, Dr. Bufwack began a position with the YWCA as Coordinator of the Shelter and Domestic Violence Program where she established a new shelter to serve more women and children. There, she assisted in implementing critical court and law enforcement reforms for domestic violence survivors. Soon after, she assumed leadership of United Neighborhood Health Services (now Neighborhood Health) where she leveraged federal resources and initiated community partnerships to create both homeless and school-based services.
During her tenure as CEO at NH, Dr. Bufwack turned the enterprise into the main source of primary health care services for Nashville’s medically underserved populations, increasing clinic sites from three to 13. Now, the organization serves 30,000 uninsured and underinsured residents, including more than 5,000 individuals experiencing homelessness. Under her leadership, Neighborhood Health’s network has pioneered the development of an integrated, comprehensive primary care model.
Dr. Bufwack has served on the board of directors and as president of the Tennessee Primary Care Association, the membership of which comprises federally qualified health centers and faith-based clinics throughout Tennessee. She also served as past director of the National Association of Community Health Centers and chair of Health Care for the Homeless Committee.
Though her extensive health care career has been marked with awards and honors, Dr. Bufwack’s contribution to the Nashville community and beyond has spilled into other areas of Music City. In 1993, she and her husband Robert K. Oermann, a noted music journalist, wrote and published “Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in County Music,” the research for which initially brought Dr. Bufwack to Nashville. Since then, a CBS network special was produced on the project and the book remains in print; now with Vanderbilt and the Country Music Foundation Press.
An innovative leader, community mentor and dedicated health care advocate, Dr. Mary Bufwack is a 2019 inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.