annie-neasman_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS  —  In one examination room, icy blue walls adorned with seahorses, fishes, portholes and anchors surround stethoscopes, blood pressure kits and hi-tech computer equipment to help pediatricians treat kids. Another room, for expectant mothers, sparkles with a new examination table standing on a freshly polished floor.

The center will also provide programs and counseling in health and nutrition, diabetes and Medicaid assistance. There is also free help in enrolling in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care insurance program.

Center officials gave a South Florida Times reporter a tour of the facility and information on the programs and professional staff. “We wanted to have a comprehensive facility for the residents of Miami Gardens,” said Annie Neasman, president and CEO of the JTCHC.

The center has been operating since November and officials hope the dedication ceremony will generate more awareness as they provide residents and community leaders with a tour of the 10,000-square-foot facility located in a popular strip shopping center at 4692 NW 183rd St. The location is an easy stop for busy residents, who can get a quick check-up after shopping in the complex.

The center includes 11 examination rooms for children and adults, a laboratory and a conference room for patient education programs. Adults can enter on the north side of the facility and parents can enter the pediatrics section from the south entrance.

Instead of candy after visits, children are given books and other materials to help promote their reading skills, said Jossette Hylton, a pediatrician at the center. “They love it,” she said. “We try to give parents a choice of what to give their children.”

Named after Jessie Trice, a popular nurse and nursing administrator who died in 1999, the center is the newest addition to the JTCHC, a non-profit federally funded organization which has eight branches in South Florida, according to Neasman, and has been serving the area since 1967.

Neasman had a chance to mention the work of the center during a meeting Feb. 12 with Vice President Joe Biden who was visiting the Miami area. Neasman was among a handful of guests invited to have coffee with Biden, according to the center’s publicist. They spoke about the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the thousands of people who receive service from the health center.

“It was a tremendous meeting and I was delighted to have an opportunity to give and receive insights on this critically important topic,” Neasman said. “The thing we don’t talk about with health insurance is it gives people peace of mind,” Biden said. He noted that Neasman is a nurse and added, “If there are any angels in heaven, they’re all nurses.”

The center was originally located at Northwest 183rd Street and Seventh Avenue but that location was too small for a comprehensive facility, Neasman said, hence the move.

Neasman said the cost for renovating the building was covered by the landlord as part of five-year deal. Operation and payroll costs are estimated at around $700,000, which is being paid through federal grants and corporate and private donations.

Though located in Miami Gardens, Neasman said, the center will accept insured and uninsured residents from any community. Residents must make an appointment prior to their visit. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

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HUG FOR AN ‘ANGEL’: Annie Neasman, CEO of Jessie Trice Community Health Center Inc., was among the handful of guests invited to have coffee with Vice President Joe Biden during his brief visit to South Florida Feb. 12. Biden noted that Neasman is a nurse and said, “If there are any angels in heaven, they’re all nurses.”