You may have heard of our resident dentist, turned COVID tester extraordinaire, Dr. Samantha (Sam) Jordan.
Now, we’re giving you a deeper look at the person behind the PPE and why she loves working at Lowell CHC.
A life-long learner, Sam remembers the wise words she received from her grandmother after she earned the last of her 3 degrees. “She said, ‘I’m so proud of you. But please, don’t do any more school!” Sam says with a laugh. “She thought it was time I get out in the real world.”
Well, it doesn’t get more real than standing outside under a tent in all weather, swabbing patient’s noses during a global pandemic. For Sam, it was all part of her public health mission.
Sam grew up in Orlando, Florida, making the move to New England to attend Tufts University. She felt right at home in Boston’s rich academic environment, remaining at Tufts for Dental School, then completing her residency and a Master’s in Public Health at Harvard.
“Lifelong learning is something I really believe in. I love being able to work with students, mentor, and staff and community members.”
Earlier in her career, Sam worked in a lab, assuming she would go on to pursue dental research. Purely by chance, she attended an international research conference and ended up in a session about public health. for Sam, it was an eye-opener. And a career changer.
“I felt like for so many years I had been missing the bigger picture – how such small things could have such a big impact on people’s lives.”
Sam dove into the world of public health, eventually ending up in Washington, DC.
Then, she got a call from long-time mentor and friend, Dr. Mary Tavares of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine about a new dental clinic opening at Lowell Community Health Center that needed a Director.
“I was so excited. I thought it was an incredible opportunity to put my experience, knowledge, and skills into action.”
We could not have agreed more, bringing Sam on board during the final planning stages. From the beginning, she embraced the Health Center’s focus on holistic care.
“It’s not just a feeling – I’ve seen how we provide better care at Lowell CHC because we work as a team across all departments.”
Fast forward to last Spring. COVID-19 had forced the Health Center to suspend most routine dental care. At the same time, we were building a team to help make testing more accessible. Chief Medical Officer Randi Berkowitz gave Sam a call. “Without hesitation, Sam said she would love to do that, even though it meant taking some personal risk,” recalls Dr. Berkowitz.
Then, in June, Sam received another call from Dr. Tavares, inviting her to take over her part-time post as Interim Dental Public Health (DPH) Residency Director
at Harvard. Sam had once been a participant herself. In fact, research by other Harvard graduate students was instrumental in the creation of the Dental Center at Lowell CHC.
Her answer? Of course! Now, Sam divides her time between Lowell CHC and Harvard.
While these last few months have meant big changes for both staff and patients, Sam included, they have also highlighted the power of the Lowell CHC community.
“The Health Center is a trusted health care home for so many of our patients. Whether we’re on the phone, under a tent, or out in the community, we are a source of comfort, even in this really uncomfortable time.”