After temporarily suspending in-person care due to COVID-19, St. John Bosco Clinic (SJBC) reopened its doors to patients June 1, along with new lines of telecommunications technology, to ensure delivery of crucial no-cost healthcare in the downtown Miami community.
Because the pandemic is disproportionately impacting minorities, the poor, the uninsured, and those living in underserved communities, the highly trained staff and volunteer medical professionals at SJBC are working diligently to keep pace with the demand for services – and to do so in the safest manner possible.
In addition to following Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) directives and local government protocols, the clinic is incorporating safe and remote telehealth services into its practice. This allows the SJBC to better serve its patients and to grow capacity in order to aid individuals and families who now find themselves without insurance and in need of care.
“The last few months have challenged us to serve and connect with our patients in new ways,” says Berta Cabrera, Executive Director at SSJ Health Foundation and St. John Bosco Clinic, based in downtown Miami.
“We are grateful to our volunteers and staff who are continuing to provide the very best care to our patients through increased reliance on telehealth visits, phone calls, emails, and even social media check-ins,” she said.
A key strength of SJBC and faith-based volunteer clinics like it is an ability to mobilize volunteer nurses and physicians from private practice or retirement to serve uninsured and underserved clients. The problem is, the urban healthcare safety net they are part was already stretched to its limits before the pandemic hit.
“Our role has always been to help medically disenfranchised people stay healthy. It’s not always an easy task, let alone during such uncertain times, with so many people losing their jobs and their health insurance, and struggling to pay their bills.”
According to Cabrera, for the first 10 days in June, the clinic staff has seen twice the number of new patients than they did over the same period last year – and more than half of them either lost their jobs because of COVID or had their work hours drastically cut.
While the clinic’s June 1 reopening is good news to people who have lost their own means of support – it also comes at a time when philanthropic donations, foundation grants, and in-kind support may be scaling back on clinic funding because of the economic downturn.
But the work must go on – and it shall.
“We know that the need in Miami-Dade County is going to be greater than ever, and it is with the faith and generosity of this very community that we welcome back the people who so desperately need care and connection,” said Cabrera.
For nearly 28 years, the SJBC has been offering essential care to Miami’s most vulnerable communities and is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph (SSF) in St. Augustine, Fla. They achieve their mission through the fundraising efforts of SSJ Health Foundation, community outreach, and with the active participation of community partners, volunteer doctors, nurses, and support staff.
SJBC has provided primary care and a wide range of other quality health care services at no cost to more than 1,200 patients a year.
“Our team of excellent healthcare providers stand ready to help those who have diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions and who now find themselves without insurance,” says Dr. Rheinchard R. Reyes, SJBC’s Medical Director.
“We’ve learned a lot about new approaches to patient visits and how to provide valuable care through telehealth as a result of COVID. Miami needs us more than ever,” Reyes continued, “and we’re more prepared than ever to serve.”
SJBC sees patients who live in Miami-Dade County and meet its financial criteria by appointment from Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is located at 730 NW 34th Street, Miami, FL 33127, within the Corpus Christi Catholic Church grounds.
For more information on how to help the clinic, make an appointment, or to find out more, please visit https://www.stjohnboscoclinicmiami.org/patient-services or contact Executive Director Berta Cabrera at 305-854-0533 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.