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What's Up Magazine

Putting Children First

Jan 16, 2012 05:12PM ● By Anonymous
The second patient of the day at Shanahan Children’s Clinic is a quiet 10-year old in a bejeweled T-shirt and glasses who is complaining of persistent neck pain. Nurse practitioner Sandra Shanahan, C.P.N.P., asks her to hop onto the examination table—but she doesn’t ask about her neck right away. While her mother and two-year-old sister wait nearby, Shanahan instead brings up the girl’s weight, which was taken when she came in to the clinic. She explains that her weight is becoming a serious health problem, taking time to show how it’s off the growth and development chart. Shanahan looks directly into her eyes. “Do you think we could set a goal of losing five pounds over the next two months?”

The girl nods shyly, saying nothing.
“So how are you going to do that?”

Twenty minutes into her appointment, Shanahan turns her attention to the neck pain. This is a typical appointment at Shanahan Children’s Clinic, which treats uninsured pediatric patients.

Many of Shanahan’s patients are immigrants from El Salvador and other Central American countries. Some have spent much of their childhoods with relatives thousands of miles away. Some have even witnessed violence in their home countries and suffer symptoms of PTSD. Local resources—especially bilingual resources—are limited. It’s a lot for one nurse practitioner and an interpreter to handle. The clinic is funded completely by donations and grants.

Before starting the Children’s Clinic, Shanahan volunteered for nine years at the Stanton Center. The Salvation Army, where Shanahan has operated since June 2011, is the clinic’s third location in its five-year history. Located on Hilltop Road, the Salvation Army has been serving needy people locally since 1887. The office provides a range of social and spiritual services, including a food pantry, prescription and transportation assistance, ESL classes, youth programs, and religious programs. Two years ago, the Salvation Army was in the middle of long-range planning. “We were thinking how to make Annapolis better than it is,” recalled Captain Richard New, the Corps Officer in Annapolis. “One of the unmet needs we identified was health services for the Hispanic community along Hilltop Road.”

Not long after that, Shanahan was looking for a new location, meeting considerable obstacles in her search. But when she found the Salvation Army, the two organizations realized they shared a dedication to the underserved. As Captain New says, “When we met Sandi, we saw that the work she was already doing was exactly where we wanted to go.” The arrangement is mutually beneficial: the Children’s Clinic is now in an accessible location for most of its patients and the Salvation Army is able to provide more complete services. “We’re almost a one-stop shop now,” says New. “It’s a great opportunity for the both of us. And Sandi has the kind of heart you want in someone doing this—she’s just the right person to do it.”

Shanahan Children’s Clinic is open every Tuesday from 9:30 am.–6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army, 357 Hilltop Lane. To make an appointment, patients may call 443-822-6851. If you’re interested in supporting the work of the clinic (a 501(c)(3) organization), you can e-mail Sandra Shanahan at

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