As the world moves to disseminate COVID-19 vaccines and determine what populations to prioritize, it is still crucial to understand how the virus spreads and who is at risk.
With strong support from community partners, pediatric professionals at the University of Miami Health Center have tested more than 10,000 Miami-Dade children for COVID-19, providing a vital service to families without convenient access to care.
“While most children are not symptomatic, they can spread the virus to adults, as well as coming down with serious symptoms themselves,” says Lisa Gwynn, D.O., M.B.A., a pediatrician and public health expert at the University of Miami Health System, and director of the Pediatric Mobile Clinic and the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative. “In fact, our findings show that COVID-19 infection rates in children are similar to the overall community rates.”
After taking part in Miami-Dade’s initial COVID-19 adult testing program last spring, the mobile clinic team from the University of Miami Health System has been focusing on children since July 1, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing kits from the state Department of Health.
UHealth has two mobile vans that travel to underserved neighborhoods throughout Miami-Dade County, offering immunizations and other primary care services. However, the COVID-19 testing has been done in outdoor settings to minimize the risk of potential virus transmission.
“We travel to neighborhoods, set up our outdoor testing operation, collect important information at check-in, including the reason for their visit,” says Dr. Gwynn. “Once the test results are available, we provide counseling to the parents if a child tests positive.”
Testing will be conducted at various school parking lots during the winter recess. Looking ahead, Dr. Gwynn says UHealth has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to bring its mobile COVID-19 testing teams to school sites throughout the community in January. “We know our local schools are challenged, and our teams will provide important support for the health of their students,” she says.
Parents should schedule an appointment for a child’s COVID-19 testing by calling 305-243-2059. “We want to be sure we can accommodate the demand for testing, although we do accept walk-ins whenever possible,” she adds. “Our goal is to provide convenient and equitable access to testing for families throughout our community.”
Financial support for the pediatric testing initiative was provided by Children’s Health Fund, Truist Foundation, Jeffrey and Jenny Binder, Adam Koffler and Lisa Heiden-Koffler on behalf of the Koffler Foundation, and Lisa Heiden on behalf of William B. Heiden.
Originally written by Richard Westlund for Inventum.