Megan Bair Merritt, MD, MSCE, Center Director

Dr. Bair Merritt is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and Associate Division Chief in General Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. 

Ivys Fernandez-Pastrana, JD, Manager

In her role as lead family navigator at Boston Medical Center, Ivys assists families whose children have been diagnosed with autism by helping them “navigate systems” such as the health care and school systems and by connecting families to resources. Ivys has co-developed the family navigation model and supervises other family navigators in the Pediatrics department. Ivys holds a Juris Doctor and practiced family law before becoming a full-time navigator. Her long-term goals include developing accessible resources for Hispanic immigrants targeting health, education, and entitlements of individuals with disabilities.


To translate evidence-based health promotion strategies – such as patient and family navigation, home visitation, the application of motivational interviewing to issues of treatment adherence, and mental health promotion – into routine practice at BMC. The Center prepares a lay, community health workforce to help families negotiate a complex healthcare landscape on behalf of their children.

This mission builds on Section 5313 of the Affordable Care Act to promote a robust community health workforce, and stems from our clinical experience at BMC concerning the barriers families encounter in obtaining treatment for their children, both in and out of the medical center. The Center trains and supervises a cadre of lay intervention providers to staff interventional research projects, innovative demonstration projects, and ambulatory clinics across the Department. Extramurally funded projects may also contract with the Center.


The development, adaptation, and assessment of interventions that promote family health and engagement with clinical care.

Training, supervision, and monitoring of family navigators and health educators who play critical roles in departmental research initiatives, innovation projects, and clinical care.

Development and adaptations of several interventions:

  • Family Navigation
  • Problem Solving Education
  • Family Engagement