Liberty City — The 45-year-old Jessie Trice Community Health Center will have control over a multi-million-dollar health facility being built in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, a task force looking into the matter has agreed.
The agreement came during the task force’s second meeting, held at the main campus of Florida International University (FIU) in West Miami-Dade on Aug. 21.
FIU wanted to direct operations so its NeighborhoodHELP community teaching program could be the centerpiece of the new facility. Supporters of the Trice Center pressed for their institution to be in charge and they had a powerful ally in U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who was instrumental in obtaining state
funding for the center when she served as a state senator.
The 10,000-square-foot center is being built on Miami-Dade County-owned land at 2520 N.W. 75th St., at a cost of $2.5 million.
Wilson convened the first meeting of officials from Trice and FIU and key health and community agencies at her Miami Gardens district office to resolve the dispute. But she left little doubt that the center should be controlled by Trice.
Three additional meetings are expected to be held by what has amounted to a task force on the matter but it was agreed at the second meeting that Trice will have control over primary care services at the Liberty City Health Clinic, which is scheduled to open in March 2014.
FIU will be in charge of community services and education, allowing the university to use the facility for its NeighborhoodHELP teaching program.
Participants at the meeting agreed also that the facility will focus on specialty care, quality assurance, data sharing and research, and evaluation of client services.
Also discussed was a proposal that the center be used to create a pipeline for local medical and nursing students to be able to study in the area and not leave for other communities. The impact of the facility on the growing number of uninsured people was also discussed.
Lillian Rivera, Miami-Dade County administrator for the Department of Health, who facilitated the task force meeting, said that Trice “will be delivering primary care there.”
That decision was welcomed by FIU officials.
“We’re all on the same page,” said Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer, assistant dean of FIU’s Medical School.
Elaine Black, president/CEO of the Liberty City Trust, added, “We would like to ensure that FIU and the Department of Health be a part of it.”
Eric Thompson of the Liberty City Health Advisory Board said he supported Trice as the lead institution for the center because of cultural considerations in healthcare.
“They know how to deal with our people,” Thompson said.
Tracy Kelly, vice president of Liberty Square Advisory Council, said all entities will be welcome, “as long as services are accessible and consistent” for residents in the area.
Dr. Luther Brewster, community director for NeighborhoodHELP, predicted that FIU’s partnership with Trice and others at the Liberty City Health Clinic would help the surrounding community.
Brewster, whose grassroots work in community health has garnered success in places such as Harlem in New York, London, England and Overtown, said that something as simple as giving jobs to people “from the areas that we work in” makes a big difference in community development.
“You change the dynamic of the household,” Brewster said.