Taking health care where it's needed

Publication Date

Charles Moore '87

MAJOR: Biological Sciences with music minor
CURRENT POSITION: Head and neck surgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta

Dr. Charles Moore '87
(photo by Jack Kearse, Emory University)

Dr. Charles Moore ’87 found his true calling just weeks into his new job as a head and neck surgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Grady, which is affiliated with Emory University, where Moore is a professor, is a “safety net hospital,” the only – and often last – option for economically vulnerable patients.

As Moore saw dozens of patients enter with advanced disfiguring cancers that could have been treated earlier, he realized it was time to change course.

“When I came down here, I had never faced all of the social determinants that shape peoples’ health,” he said. “I saw all these severe head and neck cancers happening over and over again.”

So, he packed some Tupperware bins with medical supplies and set out in his green Subaru to meet patients in their communities, providing basic health screenings at homeless shelters, bus stops, and churches. And he began to understand the challenges of accessing primary care: transportation, insurance and tight budgets to name a few.

“At first, I didn’t tell people what I was doing,” he said. “But then I discovered that while one person can make a difference, collaborating with others can make even more of a difference.”

After a lot of collaboration and fundraising, Moore has grown his traveling medical practice into the HEALing Community Center, a federally-funded facility that provides preventive, primary and specialty care for the uninsured and those living in poverty. HEAL stands for Health Education Assessment and Leadership.

The HEALing Community Center has expanded to four locations in Atlanta, including two school-based centers. It serves more than 5,000 patients annually and serves as a teaching base for the Emory School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Laney Graduate School and Emory College and several other area universities.

Moore’s efforts were recognized at the Emory commencement last spring with the Thomas Jefferson Award, which honors the Emory staffer who has enriched the intellectual and civic life of the Emory community.

Moore arrived at Union from Nedrow, a community near Syracuse. While already accepted at Cornell, he visited Union “and fell in love with it.”

A biological sciences major and a music minor who started the Gospel Choir at Union, he has retained his passion for both fields. When he isn’t practicing medicine, he enjoys singing and playing the piano and saxophone. No amateur, he has performed as a background singer with big acts including Michael Bublé, Sounds of Blackness and Avery Sunshine.


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