Margaret Ecker

I joined the Coalition as a community organizer after graduating from Vanderbilt in Philosophy in 1970. I stayed on with the Coalition through the next school year to help with year end reports and preparation for the next summer. Inspired by the work of the Coalition, I eventually put aside plans for law school and went on to earn a master’s degree in nursing and then nurse practitioner education before returning to East Tennessee. Bill Dow was my clinical preceptor.

I came back to Briceville Tennessee in 1975 to work in their community owned clinic, located in a TVA trailer. Byrd Duncan was my supervisor, and Rick Davidson provided medical coverage for my clinical decisions. Later, I moved back to Nashville and worked in the Planned Parenthood Teen Clinic, and the primary care clinic at Cayce Homes. Irwin Venick was my boss at the Cayce Clinic.

In the late 1980s, I came out to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree in Fine Arts. For my first paying job as artist, I taught Art Appreciation in a women’s prison. But eventually I drifted back to nursing, first at the beside of pediatric oncology patients, and eventually in hospital administration as director of nursing quality at a tertiary care hospital here in LA.

Just after retirement, in 2013, I was privileged to hear Bill Corr, then assistant secretary of HHS and former administrator for a network of clinics in East Tennessee, talk about the fabulousness of the Affordable Care Act. Inspired by Bill Corr’s words, I came over to Tennessee for a the next two years to help with the roll out of ACA, in a state generally hostile to the project. The Tennessee Justice Center provided a home base for that work. The old ties from east and west Tennessee were invaluable in the grass roots organizing that we did in a so-far-futile effort to get the state legislators to expand medicaid. The suffering that the lack of Medicaid expansion has foisted on rural communities in Tennessee (and elsewhere) has been especially brutal, but the old community leaders keep on keeping on, fighting to keep hope alive for better health care, and so do their descendants.

Back in LA, I now work the primary care angle again, providing volunteer nursing care on the street for people unhoused while they wait for the wheels of justice to grind them out some affordable housing. Out here on the left coast, health care is more often a right, not just a privilege, than in many others other states in our country. I feel lucky to have learned the critical value of that principle early on, coming of age as I did under the influence of the SHC, way back in the beginning.

(August 2019)

 

Related People:

J. Thomas “Tom” John, M.D.

I am a bit late in getting my bio in, best done in the earlier stages of pending dotage. I am originally from Laurinburg NC a small farming and, then, textile community in the eastern part of the state. I… Continued

Irwin Venick

Profile: Contributed by Irwin Venick, May 2016 I arrived in Nashville, Tennessee on a hot, humid day in August 1971 not really knowing what to expect. One thing for sure was that I was not in Kansas (meaning for me,… Continued
 

Related Stories:

Margaret Ecker on her inspiration to pursue nursing

Margaret Ecker shares about early career pursuits and explains how the Student Health Coalition played a prominent role in steering her toward a life of service through nursing. Full footage of the conversation between Barbara Clinton, Margaret Ecker, and Bernetiae… Continued

Challenges facing nurse practitioners

Outside the old clinic building of what used to be Douglas Community Health Center, Margaret Ecker and Jean Carney discuss the multitude of challenges facing nurse practitioners and what legislative movement’s been made to overcome adversity of such restrictive practice.… Continued

“What it took” – Nine nurses reconvene fifty years later and discover the power of common denominators

Nine nurses gathered in Nashville in May 2019 to reminisce about their beginnings as nurses. Nursing practice underwent radical changes in those days. These nine nurses stood apart from their peers, and in conflict with convention. Here, they discuss what… Continued

“Radical Hearts” and their dress code.

  Margaret Ecker reminisces with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition at a gathering in 2013.     Her story about the students’ dress code was influenced by the clip below of Kate and J. W. Bradley, where they discuss what their community said… Continued

Tom John in brevis

An video clip of an interview with Dr. Tom John, speaking about his experiences with the Student Health Coalition and the Center for Health Services. Recorded by Margaret Ecker, 2013. More on Community Engagement: Continued

“We lived with a coal burning stove and kept our provisions in gallon glass jugs against the mice.”

[Story contributed by Margaret Ecker, RN, MSN] Sometime around 1975, local friends in Lake City offered us newly minted community organizers this abandoned house for a dwelling. We lived communally, our numbers fluctuating with the season. We lived with a… Continued

“For several years after that episode, the family sent me a card on their daughter’s birthday, thanking me for saving her life.”

[Story contributed by Margaret Ecker, RN, MSN] My first job as a nurse practitioner began around 1975, in Briceville, Tennsessee, in a community-run clinic housed in a trailer and managed by a local board chaired by the venerable Byrd Duncan.… Continued

 

Related Resources/Links:

Student Health Coalition Reunion Materials, 2009 and 2013, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Files transferred from the William W. Dow Papers (#05612) that document two Student Health Coalition reunions. One attended by Dow in 2009, and another hosted in Nashville in 2013 after Dow’s death in 2012. Materials include correspondence between former coalition… Continued

Article: “Second Health Fair in Progress,” from the Oak Ridger

Lunsford, Larry. “Second Health Fair In Progress.” Oak Ridger, 1971. View PDF. Transcription: Briceville, New River Second Health Fair in Progress By Larry Lunsford A second “Health Fair” is currently in progress at the Briceville Elementary School in the Briceville Community west… Continued

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *