Miller School, UHealth Partner with Charities to Launch Clinics

Alonzo Mourning Charities and Overtown Youth Center team up with UM

For many years, the Miller School of Medicine has provided compassionate health care that has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people in Overtown. That longstanding relationship, built on the Miller School’s commitment to the community, took another leap forward today with the announcement of a new clinic at the Overtown Youth Center (OYC), born through a partnership among the OYC, Alonzo Mourning Charities and the Miller School and UHealth – University of Miami Health System. The clinic will bring high quality health care to the center’s children and young adults.

Through the new partnership, announced by Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., NBA great Alonzo Mourning, and Carla Penn, executive director of the youth center, UHealth physicians will screen OYC participants for various illnesses, refer them to other doctors in certain cases, and provide care as needed.

At a time when the country is mired in discussion over extending health care to those least able to afford it, Dean Goldschmidt elicited applause at the launch ceremony when he spoke about how, in the United States, there are still examples of how organizations can come together to provide health care and other services to people who need them. This agreement, he said, is one shining example, further evidenced by the strong support from the Miller School Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, the UM Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and the medical school’s Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity.

Additionally, on October 7, the Department of Otolaryngology conducted hearing screenings for about 82 of the center’s children and plans to offer more services. Fred Telischi, M.D., the department’s interim chairman, Hillary Snapp, Au.D., senior audiologist, and others from the department attended today’s event.

“This kind of partnership is what this country is all about,” said Goldschmidt, who is also the CEO of UHealth, after he was introduced by Mourning to an audience of OYC personnel, parents and other community and government representatives, and the physicians from UM and volunteers from other institutions.

Goldschmidt also described the Miller School’s long involvement with Overtown as a “continuous affair” with many phases. In this phase, “we will be identifying the issues and illnesses that limit kids from being all they can be. These services will help our children get better and do better.”

Mourning, whose namesake charitable organization was created “to encourage the educational development of our youth by creating programs and youth enrichment centers that promote positive change in low socioeconomic communities,” has been a solid supporter of the OYC and its various programs since the center opened in 2003.

Overtown Youth Center was built by local real estate developer Martin Z. Margulies through his Margulies Foundation, with the support of Mourning and Alonzo Mourning Charities, as a safe haven for the children in Overtown. The center offers in-school, after-school, weekend, and summer programs that include academic enhancement, physical fitness and nutrition, creative arts and family-oriented activities. Mourning said the additional ties with UHealth would allow more children to maintain proper health – and live a better life.

“This relationship is truly a blessing,” Mourning said. “It will give us an opportunity to recognize some of the obstacles that might keep our young people from getting an education … I truly know that if they don’t have their health it will be difficult for them to focus on the things that will make them successful.”

Penn, the center’s executive director, began the morning celebration by showing a video in which several young participants commented on how the center had changed their lives and exposed them to people and events they likely would not have encountered. The program also included testimony from Gwendolyn McNair whose two sons, ages 17 and 15, and 13-year-old daughter attend OYC.

The program and the clinic are “phenomenal,” McNair said. “I just thank God for all of you who put your heads together and launched this.”

Penn made special mention of Arthur Fournier, M.D., assistant dean for community health, who has been a stalwart among Miller School faculty working with the people of Overtown. The clinic, he said, is the latest step in the Miller School’s commitment to Overtown and further illustrates the University’s understanding of its duty to help maintain the health of its neighbors.

That duty, Dean Goldschmidt said, is one that he takes seriously.

“As Dean of the Miller School it humbles me to see the great work that is being done here,” Goldschmidt said.

The event closed with a tour of the new clinic.

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