Iowa Alumni Magazine | February 2008 | Features

The Good Pirate: Max Hardberger

By Amy Schoon
Loah Stallard

For residents of Saint Joseph, Missouri, June 21 is no ordinary date. It's Loah Stallard Day, named in honor of an Iowa alumna who has served the community for decades as a healthcare advocate for the poor and uninsured.

Though Stallard received the distinction along with the YWCA's Lifetime Achievement Award this past June, the nurse says that watching her patients' lives improve through better health care has been the best reward. Stallard, 55BSN, assists these transformations through her county's social welfare board, whose free clinic serves around 7,000 low-income patients.

Stallard started out as a nurse when the board only employed four staff members, and as the organization expanded, so did her role. From 1979 to 2006, she worked as executive director, identifying health needs in her community and finding ways to provide those services at the clinic. Under her leadership, the board added dental care, a diabetic food program, a dietitian, crisis counseling, gynecological services, cardiovascular screening, and arthritis services. The organization also grew to a staff of 40, plus 15 volunteers, including nursing students and interpreters to serve the town's growing Hispanic population.

Even though Stallard has stepped down from her role as executive director, she shows no signs of retirement. As health educator for the clinic's WISEWOMEN cardiovascular disease prevention program, she offers one-on-one counseling to women over 40 at risk for heart disease and stroke.

A nursing rotation at the UI first inspired Stallard to embark on her rewarding career in public health. "You form close relationships with the patients and spend more time with them than you would at a hospital," she says. "You feel responsible for their care and for their lives."