Center for Haitian Studies Recognized for Support of Pediatric Mobile Clinic

With replicas of the Haitian flag proudly on display, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine paid tribute to one of its leading partners in Miami-Dade County’s Haitian community.

The flags flew in honor of Haitian Flag Day, but the guests who came to the Mailman Center for Child Development May 21 were there for a breakfast to recognize the generosity of the Center for Haitian Studies, and Executive Director Dr. Laurinus Pierre, in support of the University of Miami Pediatric Mobile Clinic.

The Center for Haitian Studies recently made a generous, multi-year commitment to provide funding for programs to benefit the children and families of the Little Haiti community.

“I’m here to celebrate our relationship with the Haitian community of Miami,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, and CEO of the University of Miami Health System. “This is an amazing community that has provided extraordinary expertise and talent for years. Among such talent and expertise in health care is our partnership with the Center for Haitian Studies. It is just an amazing example of how a community can get organized and work with an academic medical center to provide health care and education.”

The Pediatric Mobile Clinic, which is a part of the Miller School’s Department of Pediatrics, provides medical care for uninsured children in at-risk neighborhoods. Twice a week, the Center for Haitian Studies provides a central location for the mobile clinic, so families can access their services. Staff members also play a key role helping to communicate and coordinate with patients.

Laurinus Pierre, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies, said the center was born out of a grant from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and continues to be a strong partnership that benefits many people in need.

“The community needs every one of us. The community needs you. It is not something one person can do,” said Pierre, who earned his Master of Public Health degree at UM.

A 47-foot bus, the traveling clinic is fully equipped with three exam rooms, a laboratory/treatment area and a pharmacy. Each year, the mobile clinic provides thousands of vaccines, physicals and other types of primary medical care for children who would have trouble accessing health care any other way.

“Even in the era of the Affordable Care Act, this work must continue, as many of our families cannot access even government-subsidized health care,” said Judy Schaechter, M.D., interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. “The Pediatric Mobile Clinic brings quality care to families in their neighborhoods, in their language, with compassion and sensitivity to their needs.”

Created in response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Pediatric Mobile Clinic is run by Director Lisa Gwynn, D.O., assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, and her team.

Gwynn says the mobile clinic offers services that go well beyond annual physicals, extending into more specialized care when needed. She told the story of a 15-year-old boy who arrived from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake with a mass on his face. His mother had suffered foot injuries and was traumatized by what she witnessed during the quake. Gwynn says the staff was able to find medical help for the teen, and for his mother to help her cope.

“A lot of what we do is happy well-visits, which we love in pediatrics,” said Gwynn. “But the other piece to this is we provide patients long-term, comprehensive care for those who have no other options.”

The Francois family also came to Miami after the devastating earthquake. Jean Francois said his 4-year-old son, Kevin, was suffering from several medical issues, including severe respiratory problems that worsened with time. With no money and no insurance, Francois was relieved when a friend told him about the Pediatric Mobile Clinic.

Through a translator, Francois said the team at the Pediatric Mobile Clinic helped to put his son on the road to recovery.

“With the grace of the center, I am able to receive total care for my son,” he said. “He has gotten medications, he is able to see the doctor and get referrals to other locations for continuing care.”

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