Sandra Shanahan offered a patient's family a ride home Tuesday after they walked there to be seen.
"No, I'll take you," the nurse practitioner insisted to the Hispanic family.
She's closing Shanahan Children's Clinic on Sept. 29 because she said she's getting too old to run it. The clinic opened 10 years ago.
"I will miss nursing," the 73-year-old Edgewater resident said. "I feel guilty already."
The nonprofit clinic serves children without health insurance, primarily among the Annapolis Hispanic population, offering physical examinations, sick care, simple lab tests, patient and parent education and referrals to specialty care. Over the decade, Shanahan saw bout 2,250 patients, about 94 percent of which were Hispanic.
She sometimes gives families money for prescriptions and declines to accept the recommended $35 donation for each appointment. And she always makes sure children are taken care of.
"The kind of help we give they're not going to find anywhere else," she said.
Shanahan asked Susana Moscozo Tuesday to sit on the edge of the table situated behind a room divider. "Sientate."
She shined a light into the 9-year-old's eyes. "Mira la luz."
Moscozo followed the light with her eyes. She came to the United States one month ago from El Salvador to reunite with her father, who became a U.S. citizen. Her school recommended Shanahan's clinic, in the Annapolis Salvation Army's basement, after noticing Moscozo kept falling down.
Shanahan said the clinic, which is open 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m Tuesdays, sees new patients all the time. She saw a lot when there was an influx of immigrants from Central America last year, she said.
"Oh, the stories are unbelievable," she said. "It's amazing what these families have been through."
She remembers some who came to the United States on top of trains. A boy who spent years trying to escape drug cartels in Honduras. And even a baby who was born en route in northern Mexico.
She and a translator staff the office. Once a month, another nurse practitioner comes in.
As a private practice nurse, she said she would see 25 to 30 children a day — but in her clinic she saw fewer children and appointments were longer. "Some days I only see a few kids and some days it will be booked solid."
Each appointment is about an hour long, unlike the 10-to-15-minute windows she had to see patients when in private practice.
She said she'll miss the children and families most. "Children are amazing, they don't know they're sick."
For five years she has tried to find someone to take over but has been unsuccessful. "Nobody's going to work for free."
Shanahan is referring patients to other low-cost clinics: Chase Brexton in Glen Burnie, Owensville Primary Care in West River and Anne Arundel Medical Center Community Care on Forest Drive.
The nonprofit has operated out of an office at the Salvation Army for about three years, Shanahan said. She's grateful for the space and the rent of only $50 a month.
"Well, this is it," she said, throwing her hands in the air on Tuesday.
The clinic was previously in a corner of Mount Olive AME Church and when it first started it was in Allen Apartments.
The clinic has been funded by donations and grants.
Shanahan opened the clinic in 2005 after she volunteered with Stanton Center for nine years. "I saw this whole population of children that had no care."
She said she didn't know what she was doing so Googled 'how to start a business.'
"The rest is history."
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