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St. John Bosco Clinic, truly a godsend in the Miami-Dade community

St. John Bosco Clinic is truly a godsend in Miami-Dade County. In 1992, when the clinic branched out on its own, it was in response to a deep need to meet the ever-growing demands of underserved and uninsured individuals here.

Today, 27 years later, their work continues. In fact, in a city as big and diverse as Miami, their work may never end – as long as this agency is blessed to flourish. Which is why, according to Executive Director Berta Cabrera, ongoing support from donors, sponsor agencies, and volunteers is so crucial.

Formerly a program of Mercy Hospital, St. John Bosco Clinic remains an essential safety net for thousands of families. In the last year alone, the clinic served nearly 1,300 patients through 5,360 clinic visits – a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

Yet after all these years, Cabrera says she is still amazed there exists such a high demand for health care in this community.

“Whatever the cause – and there are many – as a free clinic, we are so blessed to be able to continue to help people overcome difficulty in accessing safe and convenient healthcare for themselves and their families.”

In the Beginning
Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, Fla., the St. John Bosco Clinic was previously housed in a tiny office at the St. John Bosco Church campus in Little Havana. The clinic’s service delivery grew from a half-day operation once a week, to its current five-day operation in a large stand-alone clinic with night and weekend hours. In 2007, the clinic moved to its current location on the campus of
Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Allapattah.

Although they see people from all over Miami-Dade County, the main zip codes the St. John Bosco Clinic serves are mostly within the boundaries of the urban core of Miami – areas identified as having the highest correlation of poor health outcomes.

“Those we help have different life stories, faces, and nationalities. They are the young, old, their income is low, and their linguistic isolation is high,” she added.
In addition to offering primary and preventive care for the most prevalent conditions, the clinic also dedicates a lot of time and effort to providing health education, through it’s many community partners.

In fact, Cabrera says they just launched an eight-week course on nutrition that covers such topics as eating on a budget and how to read food labels. This free program is facilitated through a state-based nutrition program. Additionally, the University of Miami has been providing specialty-care at the clinic once a week for over 15 years.

A Shared Belief
The backbone of the medical services St. John Bosco Clinic offers, however, is provided by about 25 physicians in private practice who volunteer to regularly see patients onsite, in addition to the clinic’s on-staff nurse practitioners.

“We really couldn’t do it without the support of our partners and volunteers,” Cabrera noted. “In fact, everyone who volunteers with us has a shared believe in our mission – that we all have a right to feel well, and to work, and to take care of our families.”

The St. John Bosco Clinic spreads the word about its work in the community in many ways, including engaging events such as the Miami Festival of Blues & Jazz fundraiser with Order of Malta Cuban Association, The Donor Recognition Breakfast, and The Whiskey Trip Around the World at Yumbrella in South Miami. They are also proud to have been able work with 15 community agencies at the Community Resource Fair to strengthen their outreach and improve services.

Here’s a quick splash of what you should know:
• Patient Services: Adult services; Pediatrics, Laboratory and Diagnostics; Women’s Health; Limited Specialty Care; Chronic Disease Management; Prescription Assistance Program; Referral to community agencies; and Patient Education. The clinic does not offer urgent care or walk-ins, as patients are seen by appointment only.

• Healthcare Volunteers: The clinic welcomes those who have an interest being of service to others as volunteers. For information on becoming a Licensed Healthcare Provider, contact Luz Gallardo at 305-635-1335 or via email at luz.gallardo@sjbclinic.org.

• Support Staff Volunteers: As key members of the clinic team, support staff volunteers are needed in many areas. Completed applications may be submitted in person or e-mailed to dailen.celma@sjbclinic.org. For information, contact 305-635-1335.

So when asked if her work as the clinic’s executive director will ever be “done,” Cabrera responds as only a dedicated lifelong social worker might – with a great degree of honest optimism.

“In a perfect world, yes, perhaps our work will be done – if ever we see a total revamping of the health care system. But until that day, we will continue to do what we can to help people in need.”

Meanwhile, she says the people of St. John Bosco Clinic will keep on humbly working for their patients and the community. “Because there isn’t a day that goes by when you don’t feel great satisfaction that you are positively impacting another human being’s life,” she says.

“Sometimes, it may be as big as writing a grant that brings in much-needed funding that impacts a lot of people all at once. But most of the time, it’s helping that one person who needs us to secure a medication for them, or needs us to connect them with a resource – and there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t do all of that.

“Most days, it boils down to just one person. And that’s a good day.”

ABOUT THE CLINIC
St. John Bosco Clinic is supported by SSJ Health Foundation, volunteer physicians, and support staff. Philanthropic-individual and corporate donors, foundation grants, and in-kind support from generous community partners make it possible for the St. John Bosco Clinic to continue serving the community.
St. John Bosco Clinic is located within the Corpus Christi Catholic Church grounds in the “Rosario de la Cueva Iglesias” Building, at 730 NW 34 St., Miami, FL 33127. Call for information at 305-635-1335. For hours of operation, visit https://www.stjohnboscoclinicmiami.org/contact.

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