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Black History Month Voices: Kelli McCallum | Commentary

During February, Maryland residents are commemorating Black History Month by studying and celebrating the past. Meanwhile, what’s being called the racial reckoning of 2020 is barely in the rearview mirror. Those recent events — Black people killed by police and marches demanding systemic change — are prompting some Baltimore-area residents to explore what needs to be done to ensure there is substantial progress toward achieving racial justice and equity.

The Baltimore Sun asked residents: What will it take to move the region ahead in 2021 and beyond? Specifically what do they want to change, and how will they help make those changes happen? Each week this month, we will share some of their comments about how they hope to move forward after a tumultuous 2020.

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The essays have been edited for clarity and length.

Kelli McCallum, 45, lead nurse practitioner,operational field manager, MedStar Health’s mobile unit

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Kelli McCallum, operational field manager with MedStar Health’s mobile unit, says in a Black History Month essay that the ripple effect of providing health care education is astronomical.
Kelli McCallum, operational field manager with MedStar Health’s mobile unit, says in a Black History Month essay that the ripple effect of providing health care education is astronomical.

Out of the box is a great place to be. The mobile unit appealed to me because it gave me an unconventional way to get health care to low-income and urban communities. Being out in the community shows that even if they choose not to come to us, or if they’re fearful of coming to us, it’s still our responsibility to come to them.

Things still take time. Even with the preparation that went into making the community aware of the mobile unit, when we got out there, a crowd of people didn’t come rushing over. It’s still taking time to build that trust.

A major goal is education for the community. It is hard to provide education when you don’t have that face-to-face interaction. I would love to get back to providing education at community events and community classes. By providing health care education, you create health literacy, and the ripple effect of providing that education is astronomical.

Ultimately, the people we serve are the best microphones. If they feel like they got the appropriate information and care, they’ll go out and share that information quicker than I ever could.

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— Compiled by Hallie Miller

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