Harbor Hospital in south Baltimore needed just the right person to serve as the first school health resource coordinator in its Healthy Schools Healthy Families program, designed to help elementary and middle school students in the surrounding Cherry Hill learning zone.
The hospital found who it was looking for in Calvert Moore, RN, MS.
Moore is master’s educated in community public health and nursing, she has a passion for working with children and, perhaps most important, she can empathize with the students in the financially challenged Cherry Hill area.
“I’m from this community, and some of my family still lives in this area, so a lot of what I see I already knew,” Moore said in a phone conversation after pulling herself away from a noisy, bustling lunchroom at one of the four schools she serves.
According to the website for Towson University, a sponsor in the Healthy Schools Healthy Families program, the Cherry Hill area was developed as a planned community for African-American veterans returning from World War II and remains largely African-American. The majority of households are headed by single females.
Bolstered by a $50,000 donation from Bank of America, Harbor Hospital put $100,000 toward launching the program, which serves about 1,400 students.
The way Harbor Hospital president Dennis Pullin sees it, the program is a way for the hospital to give back to the local community.
“It was a charge from me to the team here at Harbor Hospital to focus on a progam that the community would benefit from,” Pullin said. “We collectively decided that: What better area to have an impact on than kids and their health?
“Hopefully, by teaching kids and family members how to better take care of themselves, and to live healthier lives and reduce incidences of diabetes and hypertension, not as many show up in my emergency room — not as many utilize our emergency room as their primary care.”
Pullin said the key to raising more funds to sustain the program will be proving it is successful. That’s why finding the right person for the job was so important.
In Moore, Harbor hired someone not only with the right skills, but with a passion for what she’s doing.
Although she has been on the job for only about four months, Moore has implemented separate evidence-based health programs for each of the four elementary/middle schools she serves: Cherry Hill, Patapsco, Arundel and Carter G. Woodson. She has joined numerous school committees and is in the process of developing a resource guide for the Cherry Hill area that she hopes to complete by this summer.
Among the school-specific program topics are STD prevention, medication safety and anger management.
“Even though all four schools are within walking distance [of each other], they all wanted something different,” Moore said. “For each school, I wanted to make sure they felt involved. I didn’t want them to feel like I was coming in saying, ‘This is what I think your school needs,’ because that’s not my role at all.”
Moore said she believes it’s important to gain the trust of the students’ parents, and she has organized parent seminars on a variety of topics, including one on talking to children about sex. She also has tried to find as many resources and individual contacts within the community as possible, so when a parent or student asks a question, she can direct them to the right person and place.
“I feel it’s important, especially for the parents, to know who is interacting with their kids,” Moore said. “I just want them to get to know me and feel free to call me any time they need anything or have a question.”
Moore can envision a day when the Healthy Schools Healthy Families program expands to have a health resource coordinator in each school in the Cherry Hill learning zone, including the two high schools.
Until then, Moore plans to build support for her programs within the schools and the community. She realizes there’s a lot of work to do, but she’s not complaining.
“I love what I do,” Moore said, sounding eager to return to the lunchroom. “I love working with the students.”
Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.
SEE A VIDEO about the Harbor Hospital Healthy Schools Healthy Families program online at Harborhospital.org/body.cfm?action= detail&id=556555&ref=29.