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Mary Bufwack, Ph.D.

Mary Bufwack has been a daring and creative leader, role model and mentor in the creation, development and support of delivery systems of comprehensive primary care services to the medically underserved populations in Davidson, Wilson and Trousdale counties. She has initiated and supported collaborative ventures that persist to this day, consistently expanding the availability of primary health care services.

During her tenure as Chief Executive Officer, Bufwack developed Neighborhood Health — a federally funded
community health center—into the main source of primary health care services to Nashville’s medically underserved population. It now serves 27,000 uninsured and underinsured residents (including over 4,000 people who are homeless) through a network of 10 health centers, two homeless clinics and a mobile unit. Under Bufwack’s leadership, Neighborhood Health has been a pioneer in developing an integrated, comprehensive primary care model.

After assuming leadership of United Neighborhood Health Services (now Neighborhood Health) in 1988, Bufwack successfully leveraged federal resources to grow the program from two service sites in 1988 to 10 in 2017. She initiated a partnership with Nashville’s Room in the Inn to create a health center for the homeless and worked with Metro Public Schools to develop school-based services.

Shortly after beginning her work at Neighborhood Health, she developed a collaborative relationship with Meharry Medical College where physician services were provided via faculty preceptors and medical residents. Bufwack also provided the leadership to create “Bridges to Care,” through which private and public medical organizations collaborate to extend services to the medically underserved in Davidson County.

Bufwack also provided support and leadership to Dr. Robert Miller and Vanderbilt School of Medicine students to extend services to address medical underservice in Nashville. Bufwack supported the creation of Shade Tree Clinic, which has operated in a Neighborhood Health facility in East Nashville since 2005. Shade Tree Clinic has exposed more than 1,500 medical, nursing and pharmacy students to the health care needs of the medically underserved.

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. Bufwack has also served on the board of directors of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Bufwack’s other honors include: two-time Healthcare Hero, Nashville Business Journal; CEO of the Year, Center for Non-Profit Management; Women of Influence, Nashville Business Journal; Tennessee Primary Care Association Leadership Award; 10 Women to Watch, Nashville Medical News; chair of the board of directors, Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital; board of directors, Tennessee Justice Center; co-chair of health committee, Mayor’s Task Force for Youth in Nashville; health committee, Mayor’s Task Force on Ending Poverty in Nashville; Children’s Health Oversight Committee, Alignment Nashville and board of directors, Comprehensive Care Center (Nashville). Additionally, Region IV of the United States Bureau of Primary Health Care publicly recognized Bufwack’s innovative community-based models of primary care and health professional education.