Liberty City Health Fair Brings Free Screening Services to Miami Community
Betty Hamilton came to the Liberty City Health Fair on Saturday for a variety of free screening services. “I want to stay on top of my health, and this is a great way to get a checkup,” she said. Gladys Dulcio and her three children walked several blocks to Holmes Elementary School for the day-long event, organized by the student-run Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Hamilton and Dulcio were among more than 200 residents of the underserved Miami community who took advantage of DOCS’ sixth annual health fair to receive screenings for hypertension, diabetes, vision loss, and colon, breast, cervical and skin cancers. About 150 Miller School students conducted the screenings, supported by faculty, Miami-Dade County Public School administrators and the Miller School’s community partners.
University of Miami President Julio Frenk and Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School, both attended the health fair.
“Engaging in community service projects like this health fair enriches the learning experience for our students, while supporting our university’s mission of service,” said Frenk.
Goldschmidt noted that the Miller School’s health fair provides a highly accessible location for Liberty City residents to get preventive care screening.
“Each year, our students and faculty deliver life-saving services to this community,” he said. “When our students identify a health problem, we refer residents to practices in the area. We also help the uninsured obtain coverage to pay for future care.”
For the past 45 years, the volunteer DOCS students have organized health fairs for underserved South Florida neighborhoods, typically drawing 75 to 200 residents. So far during the 2015-16 year, DOCS has held screening events in Key West, Big Pine Key, Marathon, south Miami-Dade, Hialeah, Little Haiti and Fort Lauderdale, and a free weekly clinic for medically underserved populations. The year’s last fair will be held April 23 in Boca Raton with the M.D./M.P.H. students at the Miller School’s Regional Campus in Palm Beach County.
“Our screening services are important because there is such a wide diversity of people and health needs in our region,” said Emily Grass, a second-year medical student and Co-Chair of the Liberty City Health Fair with Roy Elias and Joshua Kronenfeld. “Each health fair is a safety net for catching health conditions before they develop into chronic problems. Getting out into the community also lets us learn more about the patients we serve.”
Greg Hartley, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy, led students providing balance and fall risk assessments.
“We haven’t seen as many older people here as in other health fairs,” he said. “Today, it’s mostly younger parents and their kids.”
The free health fairs date back to the 1971, when a team of medical students launched the program in Big Pine Key. Founded in 2000, DOCS was renamed the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service in 2006. Last year, DOCS brought health screening and educational services to more than 1,500 patients through the volunteer efforts of more than 250 medical students and 50 physicians.
A photo gallery of the health far activities can be found here.