Amazing Mom: Lorna Stuart

Filed under: Amazing Parents, Medical Conditions, Resources

Lorna Stuart, flanked by her supportive sons, Sam, left, and Nate, is all about making uninsured people healthy. Credit: Courtesy of Lorna Stuart


Amazing Mom: Lorna Stuart, who founded The Clinic, a nonprofit medical facility for the uninsured in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Lorna's Family: Kids: Sam, 30, Nate, 27

Lorna Lives In: Valley Forge Mountain, Pennsylvania

Why Lorna Is Amazing: In 1980, Dr. Lorna Stuart opened her private medical practice and built it up over the next 22 years to include three doctors and one nurse practitioner. Over time, however, she noticed a disturbing trend: More and more patients would put off coming to see her because they had no insurance or no way to pay for it.

"We would see incredibly sick people," she says. "Maybe a child who should have been seen on a Monday or Tuesday and finally the parents bring him in on a Friday and he's much sicker."

Unlike most people, Lorna decided that enough was really enough and she took action. "I was at the point where my older son was graduating from college and I could afford to start a clinic and get out of medicine as it's become ... wooed by insurance companies and taking away physicians' independent thinking and decision making."

She, along with the help of her priest, Reverend Marie Z, Swayze, started "a clinic where we could see people freely who had no insurance and without them having to worry if they could pay for their care or not," she says. The Clinic, as it is known, opened its doors in 2002 in a former church rectory of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She and Mother Marie raised $400,000 to restore the dilapidated Victorian building and in exchange, the church leases it to them for $1 a year. Since it opened, Lorna and her colleagues have treated about 60,000 patients from 105 different countries. Ten percent are children and all are younger than 65, as they do not accept Medicare or Medicaid patients. The Clinic is funded entirely by grants and individual contributions.

"We are kind of ambassadors for 'good' in that our Albanian and our Uzbekistan and our Peruvian visitors get hands-on, quality health care with the meds they require," she says. A huge world map hangs on the wall and Lorna's patients get a kick out of placing a pin on their homeland.

Last year, for the first time, they had to institute geographical boundaries because of the sheer number of patients. "Before the boundaries, people were traveling from New Jersey, Delaware and all over Eastern Pennsylvania to get to us," says Lorna. "We need to have way more clinics such as this."

Lorna's Son Sam Says: "I suppose it's hard to separate her top qualities from her professional life, I mean how many kids can fall off their bike and actually have their mom make it all better? That's pretty great stuff, having an in-house doctor growing up. The flip side was that I still hold the record for the fewest sick days ever at my elementary school, 20 years later! I remember watching how Elliot faked being sick in ET and thinking, 'That would never work on Mom.'"

Recognition: Huggins Heroes Award in 2006; GlaxoSmithKline Impact Award, which included a $50,000 grant, in 2007; CNN "Medical Marvel" Hero in 2008; People Magazine "Hero Among Us" in 2009

Lorna's Guilty Pleasures: Baking cookies and muffins; embroidering; reading; and Sudoku: "I'm really, really good at Sudoku puzzles. I do the really, really hard ones."

Lorna's Best Advice
: "It feels so good to be able to help somebody in a tight spot. Whether it be medial care or nothing to eat or whatever that tight spot is, to be able to help somebody is a wonderful, wonderful feeling."

Related:
Amazing Mom: Leslie Nordin

Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Moms!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.