To Those in Need
It is 6 p.m.
on a Tuesday evening and dusk has fallen in the Clay Street neighborhood
of Annapolis. A few youngsters still bounce basketballs on the
pavement, but otherwise Washington Street is deserted. Standing
out like a beacon is a brick building that looks like the schoolhouse
it once was, before being transformed into the Stanton Community
Stanton staffers leaving work late politely direct a visitor to
a warren of brightly lit rooms on the first floor. A toy-filled
reception area is populated by several young mothers whose well-behaved
children play quietly nearby. A low conversational hum emanates
from volunteer receptionist Kristine Campbell as she interviews
a woman who has symptoms of hypertension. Campbell calls Spanish-speaking
Mary Salgado, an Outreach Center assistant, for help with understanding
the Hispanic client.
In the background, Faye Hunt-Anderson, R.N., case manager at the
center, greets two men who have come to have their blood pressure
checked, one jokingly accusing the other's driving habits as the
cause for the higher reading. As Hunt-Anderson takes his vital
signs, she soothingly instructs the gentleman to calm down, reminding
him that he needs to relax. An elevated reading indicates the
likelihood of hypertension and Hunt-Anderson recommends that he
participate in "In Control," a special motivational program developed
by the center to help its clients.
At an adjoining triage station, registered dietitian Ann Caldwell
listens to an obese woman describe eating as her way of coping
with depression and a fear of domestic violence. Caldwell speaks
to her quietly about the signs of spousal abuse and tells her
about Anne Arundel Medical Center's Domestic Violence Program,
including its 24-hour hotline. The visitor is impressed at the
respectful and compassionate way in which Hunt-Anderson and Caldwell
interact with their clients.
Meanwhile, family practitioner William Dabbs, M.D., is standing
by during the one night a month he spends at the center, ready
to treat or refer people who need immediate medical care. So far
that evening, Dabbs has seen a patient with diabetes whose symptoms
indicate the need to be evaluated by a podiatrist and another
with respiratory problems whose lungs needed to be X-rayed. He
was referred to AAMC's radiology unit for screening.
Mary O'Malley, R.N., moves quickly around the offices, speaking
cheerfully to her colleagues and greeting those in the waiting
room. O'Malley is a stay-at-home mom who donates a portion of
her time helping out at the clinic every Tuesday evening.
Everyone seems remarkably upbeat and there is an almost palpable
air of kindness and compassion in the air. All is calm, all is
bright in this special oasis for people in need who live in one
of Maryland's most affluent counties.
A desire to serve the health needs of the uninsured and the underserved
motivates the 125 doctors and nurses who volunteer at Anne Arundel
Medical Center (AAMC) Annapolis Outreach Center in the Stanton
Community Center. The facility opened its doors a year ago on
the first floor of a renovated school building that serves as
a gathering place for residents of the neighborhood. Prior to
that, the center was located diagonally across the street in a
"We established this center to help those who are uninsured and
underserved and who are in need of more accessible services,"
said Kris Powell, director of AAMC's Community Health and Wellness
Program. Powell and Hunt-Anderson worked closely with Kirby McKinney,
executive director of the Stanton Center, and respect his cooperation
in making AAMC's Outreach Center a success.
Located at 92 West Washington Street near Clay Street in Annapolis,
the center is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., with medical
clinic hours scheduled from 12:30 p.m. until closing. On alternate
Thursdays, AAMC physicians conduct ob/gyn and pediatric clinics.
On the first Friday of each month, Joan Canteros, M.D., and other
members of AAMC's Diabetes Center offer special classes on this
all-too-common medical malady. And AAMC opthamologists and dermatologists
alternate volunteer hours to provide clinics in their specialties.
As many as 100 patients a week come to the Outreach Center, some
for health education, blood pressure checks or help with managing
chronic illness such as diabetes and others for help with ailments
ranging from colds to hypertension. People enter, glancing at
the notice in the window that free HIV testing is available. They
sign the visitor sign-in sheet. Pamphlets stacked on wall racks
offer a variety of information, from the warning signs of being
abused to the treatment of a nail fungus.
"We want to provide the kind of care that meets each person's
individual needs. We try to promote the feeling that those who
enter are visitors," says Hunt-Anderson, outreach services coordinator.
The phone rings. To assist the caller, Hunt-Anderson flips through
an overstuffed Rolodex. The phone rings again. The calls range
from medical questions to inquiries about where to find legal
assistance or employment opportunities. "The need is great. We
try to accommodate wherever we can," says Hunt-Anderson. "A key
to our ability to serve the community is our close partnerships
with other local organizations, such as the City of Annapolis
and the Health Department, which share our health improvement
Powell talks about what she perceives as the central mission of
the Outreach Center. "This center is focused on encouraging people
to take better care of themselves---to learn about healthy eating
habits, to stop smoking, to take better care of themselves in
order to optimize their health. Treating folks who are ill in
a supportive, respectful setting is often the first step," she
says. "We are all about improving the health of the community---part
of AAMC's vision as a 'hospital without walls.'"
The center is open Tuesday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Thursday, 9 - 5,
and Friday (except 1st Friday), 9 - 12. A nurse coordinator is
available whenever the center is open to offer health assessment,
medical counseling, stress management and physician referral.
For more information or to volunteer, call 410-263-1400.