Linda Gort: Women’s Health Advocate Takes Her Stethoscope To Nyc

By Scott, Jeannette

In The Spotlight Jeannette Scott

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After decades as a well-known Lancaster advocate for domestic violence prevention and access to health care for women and children, Linda Gort is moving on.

Gort, SouthEast Lancaster Health Services Inc.’s director of women’s and children’s services and a family nurse practitioner, will join the Institute for Family Health in the Bronx, N.Y., as a nurse practitioner Nov. 17.

“My grandparents were immigrants and came to New York through Ellis Island, so I’ve always considered New York my family home,” she said.

While Gort, 57, takes her vision for health care for underserved women to the Big Apple, she leaves a legacy here.

Since 1996, Gort has worked with SouthEast Lancaster Health Services and volunteered her services to pregnant inmates at Lancaster County Prison.

Previously, she provided maternal and child health services at the YWCA, St. Joseph Hospital, St. Joseph School of Nursing, and Family Practice Associates of Lancaster.

Her most rewarding moments have been “seeing the birth of a new program,” she wrote in an e-mail. Such “births” include the addition of a volunteer-staffed pregnancy clinic at Planned Parenthood; developing single-room maternity care, midwifery and breast-feeding services at St. Joseph Hospital; and closing the loop for obstetric patients at SouthEast, so they can be cared for in the health center and the hospital.

Her most heartbreaking experiences were with families whose babies died, despite the best efforts of patients and practitioners. “Sometimes things happen that we can’t control,” she wrote. “I do feel that sharing the grief is a special honor for me.”

Gort said she wanted to care for women and babies as far back as fourth grade. She began college with plans to become an obstetrician or pediatrician.

“All that changed when I learned about the family nurse practitioner role and realized that this was exactly who I was,” she wrote.

Gort hopes to be involved in restarting an obstetrics program for underserved women at her new job in the Bronx.

Her excitement about that possibility doesn’t make it easier to pull up deep roots here, though.

“This is one month to go and I’m gonna be crazy every day for a month,” she said.

“This has been an extraordinary, interconnected place to live and work.”

But nine years ago, her husband, Lenny Walton, “did a stint in New York City with AmeriCorps, and ever since, we’ve been trying to find a way to get there,” she said.

They’ve been married for 36 years and have a son, Matthew, and a daughter-in-law, Abby Vogus.

Gort leaves behind “talented, visionary people at SouthEast, beginning with our medical director, Bill Fife,” she said. “And we’ve been working on transitioning my administrative responsibilities to several clinicians.”

“I’ll keep in touch,” she said. “My new center utilizes the electronic medical records [system] we’re hoping to start at SouthEast, so maybe I can cheerlead as we develop it here.”

Said Gort, “I have just felt that I have had the most perfect life, and for no reason. I love what I do.”

How I met my husband: My cousin roomed with him one summer during college and my mom sent me over with care packages. I guess he thought I’d be a great cook like my mom!

I’ve never been very good at: Math, so I’m always careful to check and recheck my calculations when I prescribe medications for children.

Farthest I have traveled: Southeast Asia last winter to visit our son and daughter-in-law who were in Myanmar (Burma) for the past year.

If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be: A long trip to Central and South America to work on my Spanish.

When I need downtime, I: Read, and plan designs for new collages. Maybe I’ll get to work on them in NYC!

My favorite comfort food: Soup, but on a really bad day I need dark chocolate or Smarties.

Every morning, I: Hit the snooze alarm two or three times. I am so not a morning person, yet I exercise most days before work.

What scares me: I’m a pretty brave person. I’m not afraid to go out at night or travel by myself. But I’m petrified of birds. And dogs, because they jump on you.

My pets: I have five fish in my pond, but they’re not very interactive!

I most admire: The Dalai Lama, for always speaking the truth and believing in peace, and maybe for sharing Buddhism in a way that all faiths can understand.

My faith: My son says I’m a philosophical Buddhist. I try, but don’t do very well with meditating. It’s a discipline issue for me. But if there was a religion that followed the teachings of Jesus, I would follow it. I can’t see where people go hungry and churches build new additions.

What bothers me: Inequality … more than anything else.

(Copyright 2008 Lancaster Newspapers. All rights reserved.)

(c) 2008 Sunday News; Lancaster, Pa.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.