Focus On: Adam Moore & Family

Adam Moore is the CEO and co-founder of WHEELHOUSE Center for Health and Wellbeing along with his wife Dr. Tegan Moore, Executive Medical Director. Originally hailing from Brooklyn Heights, Adam’s father’s family is Caribbean and his mother’s is from the South. His mother, Madeliene Moore Burrell is a groundbreaking industrial designer, marketing executive and cultural leader, who was among the first Black women in her field while his father is the former head of psychiatry for Harlem Hospital. The Moores moved to Westport in 2017 with their children Addison, a rising sophomore at Staples High School and Mia who is a rising 7th grader at Bedford Middle School.

“We lived on the Upper East Side in Manhattan for over a decade where I owned and operated Moore Creative Living, a multi-disciplinary personal development company while my wife was the head of the Center of Excellence–a clinic run jointly by Bridgeport University Medical school and Dr. Peter D’Adamo who is best known for creating the blood type diet.

We founded WHEELHOUSE together in 2018. WHEELHOUSE is an integrative health center that focuses on multiple aspects of a patient’s health by employing a spectrum of unique professional perspectives. My wife’s focus is precision medicine based on genetic assessments. We also work with a nutritionist, another physician and an acupuncturist as well. My focus is in cognitive health and wellness based on a combination of different training and disciplines ranging from lifestyle management to neurolinguistics and hypnosis. As an ordained minister, I also help patients reflect upon their challenges from a larger perspective, asking them to examine themselves in relation to their health problem. We think about how these different health approaches fit together and create a treatment plan with respect to them. So, say you come to us with digestive issues, we think about disease tendencies, anxiety level, and your nutrition to create a multi-pronged treatment plan.

My role in the organization is split between helping our patients enhance their cognitive health and wellness and being the CEO — running the ship and developing a relationship with our community. I think of WHEELHOUSE as not just a business but as a movement.  We are thought leaders and change agents in area of medicine actively driving how we evolve individually and as a community.

Our role is to get people excited about having a positive relationship with their health. The way I describe it to our staff is that I want people to be as excited about their health as they are about their new iPhone. We want them to be excited for their next upgrade.

We were situated in a unique place when COVID hit because our approach is highly evidence-based. Everything we do is grounded by a scientific and clinical foundation but we also have access to a lot of traditional medicine because our Executive Medical Director is a naturopath.  We were already talking to health professionals from different areas of medical research which meant we were able to hit the ground running by providing patients access to different emerging technologies. We saw the COVID curve before it was coming and decided to situate ourselves first to create strategies for treating symptoms ranging along the physical to psychological continuum.  We have a genetic map for most of our patients, so we know their respiratory and gut weaknesses. We can say to some degree ‘If you get COVID here’s your unique primary risk factors and here’s how we’re going to keep that risk low.’ We’re trying to create strategies to mitigate the unknown: What would happen if you had to get to a hospital? How would symptoms play out if you became ill?

We also examine the impact of lifestyle and emotional factors in dealing with COVID: My role is in part to ask ‘What does this pandemic mean for you and how is that affecting your health?’ How is your anxiety about getting or spreading COVID impacting your sense of well-being?

The other side of that equation has been actively treating the patients in our practice who have been infected. We have patients all over the globe, but a lot in the Northeast corridor. New York started to get it first and we were able to give our patients strategies to treat physical symptoms as well as manage their mental health needs, and address their nutritional demands: How to calm down, how to get better sleep, how to maintain healthy eating habits, etc.

Of course, the unspoken conversation that is developing in all of this is about how COVID has hit African-American and Latino communities harder and I’ve gotten into some intriguing conversations with people in this community about that. Through this experience—and now the experience of the renewed civil rights movement –I’ve learned that a lot of the assumptions I came to Westport with were misplaced.

I believed that because the town is so geographically close to NY that there was spillover of a certain cultural openness and I didn’t expect quite the level of racism that we have encountered here. I remember trying to check out diversity organizations before we arrived here. I did find TEAM Westport but I also found articles about people repeatedly vandalizing the Black Lives Matter banner at the Unitarian church. Still, I told myself that being from New York and being a world traveler, I could handle what little racism Westport had to offer.

It’s been a bumpy ride culturally for us so far as residents of Westport. My family and I have been faced with frequent harassment from a neighbor who has repeatedly called the police and the fire marshal to our home claiming that I am physically menacing, that my wife is stealing flowers out of her garden and that our citronella candle is too strong and is aggravating her asthma. Each time the police and fire department come they agree that I am being harassed, and that it is an abuse of the system but that legally there is nothing that we can do to protect ourselves from it happening again. It’s truly disheartening to have my kids witness the weaponization of public resources as an instrument of targeted racism.

Racism is a regular occurrence everywhere but it’s a little more in your face in Westport. Not long after moving here, I went to the Chase ATM on the Post Road where a woman I perceived to be Caucasian and her rather tall teenage son were also approaching the machine. As I opened the door to follow them in, she held out her hand and said “I’d feel more comfortable if you waited outside”. I was so stunned I couldn’t even process it – so I just stood outside dumbfounded and later angry with myself for not course correcting her behavior.

Black people have been making adjustments to how we move in the world for the comfort of others and our personal safety for generations – it is and always has been an unfortunate necessity. My kids enjoy the Westport school system but have had their share of negatively biased experiences in school and they have naturally gravitated to friends of color – most are Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern (as there simply aren’t that many black students to be found). They have their little brown squad.  I don’t think in NYC they thought much about that, they just had a mixture of different friends.

My son and I routinely discuss his own personal experiences with racism at Staples including the letter by a classmate calling out bias at the school. We talk about the assertion that the African American students sit together at the same lunch table out of unity, that there will be metaphorical lunch tables throughout his life and he must learn to take his seat.  I remind him that ‘You have to feel comfortable with your people because when it comes down to it, that is who will have your back.’ With this in mind, our entire family has been more active in seeking out other people of color in this town.

Because I still have clients and patients in NYC, up until COVID hit I was continuing to see clients in the city a couple of days a week. As a city-kid at heart that gave me what I needed emotionally in terms of a ‘city-fix’. Not having that has been hard. On the flip side, I really love living in Westport more than I thought. I was really surprised to see how much I enjoy the ready access to nature and the beach, the rich historical foundation apparent in the colonial architecture, and its deep commitment to culture and the arts. It’s a beautiful town.

There is a pocket of transplants here who share a common experience and we’re enjoying getting to know each other including a family a few blocks away who share some very curious parallels. They are also from New York.  The father is a person of color and the mother is also white. We have daughters with the same name and in same class and sons the same age who look strikingly similar. Bizarrely, about a year after meeting them, we learned that the wife and I are both distant cousins related by John Wilkes Booth. She is a descendant of the Caucasian bloodline and I am a descendant of Booth’s enslaved women with whom he fathered many children.

It’s wonderful to witness the civil-rights awakening Westport is undergoing. We attended the downtown protest organized by TEAM Staples and after the protest happened, one of our friends who is Indian was adamant that the protest not stall at the stage of outcry and that it progresses into action. She has put together a group of parents and people via Zoom meetings interested in making change within the government and the school system. As we do this, I feel it’s important to remember something my mom always said: ‘Don’t get lost in the sweetness of your own honey pot’.  Meaning: don’t get so enamored by your own indignation that you lose sight of the goal. It’s important to initiate change, but let’s not reinvent the wheel. Westport lives in a bubble. If change is going to happen it will require stepping outside of that bubble to employ the resources, insights and leadership of communities and organizations that have been working on issues surrounding equality and social justice for decades. We must be willing to turn to neighboring communities like Bridgeport and Norwalk for guidance—or even turn inward to organizations like TEAM Westport – that are already confronting these issues with a running start.

The idea of the bubble exemplifies something I think is problematic: Often when people say we need to have diversity and change, they are focusing on the goals and not the outcomes. We need to really ask and understand: What is the point of diversity? Do we want to have diversity just for the sake of saying we are diverse or is there a deeper goal? The town prides itself on its open-mindedness but if that doesn’t translate into meaningful outcomes then we’ve missed the mark. We need to better understand what racism is, and the multiple manners in which it shows up – not just in society but in our thinking, words and behaviors. Westport needs to invest in cultural competency so it can understand the benefits of having a more diverse cultural community instead of looking at it as an obstacle we have to get past.

It’s really important that parents take an active role in shifting this perspective to the benefit of diversity. For every Black person or person of color who has died at the hands of a white male cop—that white male cop had a mommy and daddy who failed to teach him to value all lives. It’s incumbent on anyone who has a child to teach them cultural competency and to set clear expectations in their behavior in a way that demonstrates respect for others—to make sure they understand who they are in context to the larger community. I believe a lot of Westport parents are open to this notion, not just for its inherent moral value but because they see that their children are better equipped to navigate the world in which they live when they are empowered by multicultural understandings.

We are witnessing an unprecedented awakening as a nation and I am really proud of Westport for taking a leadership role in this and so thankful that we as a family are able to call Westport our home. This awakening is an uncomfortable process for many people on all sides of the issue, but in truth we will only find progress together when we are willing to get comfortable with being uncomfortable long enough to face our own issues. It’s in rubbing up against each other that ultimately, we all become more polished.

We are witnessing an unprecedented awakening as a nation

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