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FIU Nursing School Earns Grant For Clinic At Miami Northwestern Senior High

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Florida International University’s a $1.45 million grant to fund a health clinic at Miami Northwestern Senior High (MNW).

The Liberty City-based campus will begin providing family and pediatric care services in November. These will include preventative care, vaccines, flu shots, physical therapy, speech therapy and athletic training.

Ora Strickland, dean of FIU’s nursing school, authored the grant proposal, which has been in the works for more than two years. She says the university was interested in Liberty City because it suffers from three predicators of poor health status: poverty, racial segregation and poor environmental conditions.

“We’re also quite aware that the neighborhood has high rates of teen truancy, infant mortality, obesity… and a plethora of acute and chronic health conditions,” says Strickland, who has been dean since 2011.

Health and Human Services defines Liberty City as a medically underserved area and population. The predominantly African-American community is also classified Health Professional Shortage Areas for primary care.

MNW offered a similar kind of clinic, the John H. Peavy Health Center, which operated until the mid-1990s when it shut down because of budget cuts, according to Strickland.

“We toured that clinic and recognized immediately that that clinic was a major resource that needed to be implemented,” she says.

The clinic will collaborate with existing community health care services, such as the Jesse Trice Community Health Center. Strickland says FIU will act much like a satellite campus to Jesse Trice, serving not just MNW students and their families but also children attending feeder elementary and middle schools.

At least two health care providers, including at least one nurse practitioner, will be on site each school day. Strickland says hours may be expanded or contracted depending on the community’s needs.

The College of Nursing is finishing a study that collected interviews from residents in Liberty City. These results will help FIU health care providers determine which services are most necessary. 

An advisory board of parents, teachers and community members will help oversee the clinic, too.

Racquel Vera, the clinic’s director, says graduate students in nursing attending FIU will be able to train at the clinic.

“And we hopefully we develop a new generation of nurses that are well versed and have a much better understanding of community health,” she says.

Vera, who has been a pediatric nurse practitioner since 2000, says the College of Nursing is working on submitting follow-up grants to fund an outreach program, which aims to create a team of professionals and peer navigators. They will train to bridge the gap between patients and their visits to the clinic, Vera says.

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