Community health clinic opens at Miami Northwestern High

Center funded by $1.45 million federal grant to FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Just two days before the grand opening of the John H. Peavy Health Center at Miami Northwestern Senior High School (MNW), Racquel Vera was still busy unpacking supplies and equipment.

Vera, a clinical assistant nursing professor at FIU and project director for the clinic, wanted everything in perfect order for the center’s first visitors.

“We are so proud to open our doors to Miami Northwestern and the entire Liberty City community,’’ Vera said. “This has been a long time coming for us and for the community.’’

A collaboration of FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Jessie Trice Community Health Center, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) and The Children’s Trust, the clinic opened this weekend with a ribbon cutting and community health fair.

The school-based primary health care center is funded by a $1.45 million grant to FIU’s nursing school and will be open to the public after school and on Saturdays.

“This is a sacred obligation that we do not take lightly,’’ said Ora Strickland, dean of nursing and health sciences at FIU. “We want this collaboration to be a model for the nation. We are united in our efforts to improve Liberty City by investing in its health.’’

FIU will provide a team of certified nurse practitioners who will offer comprehensive health services to children and their families, including preventive care, vaccines, flu shots and health screenings, as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

The clinic will serve students and families from MNW, as well as its feeder elementary and middle schools and the entire Liberty City community.

Students at Miami Northwestern’s medical magnet program will gain hands-on experience at the clinic, along with FIU nursing students, overseen by a team of FIU faculty mentors.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said the collaboration to open the clinic is an example of community engagement in action.

“We can’t have an educated community if we don’t have a healthy community,’’ he said. “We understand that we’ve got to engage and it’s a disservice to our community if we don’t. Today, the bright weapons of hope and opportunity are represented here.’’

Liberty City is considered by the federal government to be one of the most medically underserved areas in the country, with high rates of acute and chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and infant mortality.

M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said the clinic opening is just another sign of good things happening at Miami Northwestern – and in the surrounding community.

“Together we are taking on what is good and what is right for our children and for our community,’’ he said. “Sick children can’t learn and sick parents can’t work. We are bringing dignity to the people of this community and elevating the health of our community.’’