Loyola students aid new mothers and babies through partnership with Mercy Medical Center
Loyola University Maryland and Mercy Medical Center have partnered together with University of Maryland Medical Center to create Health Outreach Baltimore (HOB), a student-run program that helps connect new mothers with resources.
The program, new for the 2014-15 academic year, replaced Health Leads, a similar partnership with Mercy that began in 2006. Students work in conjunction with social workers at Mercy on the mother-baby unit, emergency department, and the Center for Advanced Fetal Care, helping to connect low-income clients with services such as health insurance, financial resources, free cribs, GED classes, and other local support initiatives.
The students volunteer in four-hour shifts at the hospital, working side-by-side with social workers on each unit. But the program is more than just shadowing a professional, senior Stacey McGuigan explained. Students are required to keep in touch with the clients with a phone call once a week to check in and assist with any additional needs.
“It is rewarding for us to know that we were able to work with them to achieve their goals,” McGuigan said.
McGuigan, a biology and psychology major, has been involved with the program since her first year at Loyola. Now, she is one of five student leaders who stay on campus to coordinate the program, connecting 20 pre-health students with their shifts each week.
Students gain a variety of skills through the program. Not only do students learn about resources available in Baltimore, but they also gain a new perspective on poverty, hunger, and other prevalent issues.
And, it speaks to cura personalis.
“HOB truly embodies the development of the whole person that Loyola so greatly values,” said Olivia Pelletier, ’15, a biology major and HOB student leader. “Each volunteer has a heavy workload and is involved in other activities on campus, so their commitment to HOB and our clients is a testament to their devotion to serving others.”
Senior Elizabeth Curley, also an HOB student leader, agrees.
“Often in the chaotic medical world, all a doctor or other health professional can do is treat the ailment in front of them. Little thought is given to question what goes beyond what is in front of them,” said Curley. “We are looking at a person holistically and trying to tackle all the things that the healthcare system currently cannot provide.”
Loyola’s program is coordinated through the pre-health office in the office of the dean of first-year students and academic services, in partnership with Center for Community Service and Justice. Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner, Ph.D., affiliate assistant professor of theology at Loyola, is the coordinator of health professions counseling.