Rural and underserved communities commonly face difficulty getting health care. For South Florida parents, challenges with transportation, lack of insurance, and language barriers can prevent them from getting their child to a pediatrician for illness and preventative care.
A new University of Miami Health System mobile health clinic with advanced telehealth features will bring enhanced primary care services to those children and families.
The 38-foot mobile clinic includes telehealth capabilities in all exam rooms, providing connectivity with UHealth specialists when needed. There are two large slide-outs, which double the interior room size, with a separate door and room for nursing and other treatments. All rooms are equipped with laptops for patient documentation.
“Many Haitian-American children here need services like vaccinations and regular checkups, but can’t afford physician services,” said longtime supporter is Dr. Larry Pierre, executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies. “The UHealth mobile clinic has been meeting a great need in our community for more than 25 years.”
According to a 2017 study, on mobile health clinics, a decrease in emergency room visits and hospitalizations are among the benefits. Expectant mothers were also more likely to receive prenatal care the study said.
“By serving as a lifeline to underserved families, our new mobile clinic is a symbol of the Miller School’s enduring partnership with our community and deep commitment to children’s health,” said Dr. Henri Ford, dean and chief academic officer of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It also provides an invaluable hands-on learning experience for Miller School students in their pediatric rotations.”
The first UHealth pediatric mobile clinic began operations after Hurricane Andrew devastated the county in 1992, thanks to support from the nationwide Children’s Health Fund. “We stood shoulder to shoulder to provide care to children and families after Andrew, and when the sky turned blue, those children still needed us,” said Dennis Walto, CEO of the Children’s Health Fund, which supports programs in 16 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. “With its innovative approach to mobile health care, UM’s program is one of the best in the country.”
Led by Dr. Lisa Gwynn, medical director of the Pediatric Mobile Unit and associate professor of clinical pediatrics and clinical public health services, the UHealth mobile clinic team includes physicians, nurses, a social worker and a psychologist to meet the complex medical, psychological and social conditions of children and families. “We have an amazing team who delivers experienced, compassionate care,” she said. “It is because of their dedication that our program has been so successful through the years.”
The older UHealth mobile clinic has provided free medical care to about 3,000 uninsured children each year in at-risk neighborhoods and will remain on standby if needed in the future.
UHealth pediatrician Dr. Judy Schaechter said, “We are very excited to launch our new clinic, and deeply appreciate the support from Jackson Health System and our other great partners through the years.”
UHealth’s community partners include Children’s Health Fund, The Children’s Trust, Comic Relief, Hand in Hand, Himan Brown Charitable Trust, Sol Taplin Charitable Foundation, and the Joseph and Sherrie Garfield Charitable Foundation. “Our family has supported the UHealth mobile clinic for many years,” said Jennifer Taplin Sazant. “We want to do whatever we can to help the children of Miami-Dade County.”
Written by Richard Westlund for Inventum.