Community Programs & Resources : Pediatric Mobile Clinic

History & Program Summary

The University of Miami Pediatric Mobile Clinic (UMPMC) was established in 1992 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew, to provide health care to stranded and homeless families. With continued partnership and financial support from the Children’s Health Fund as well as local/state grants and private donations, the work of the UMPMC has continued uninterrupted since, providing primary care, mental health care and social services to children and families living in Miami-Dade County’s most underserved and impoverished communities year-round.

Because of financial and social conditions and transportation barriers, many of our families cannot access care in traditional office settings. As a result of language and communication issues, cultural differences, psycho-social needs, so many of them have unmet health needs that require the in-their-neighborhood wrap-around care the PMC delivers, with attention to language, literacy and cultural differences. The PMC multi-cultural, multi-lingual staff has been able to help tens of thousands of children, 13% with complex medical needs and 20% with disabilities or developmental concerns, by providing excellent, comprehensive health care, health education, psychological services case management and nutritional evaluations free-of-charge.

The mission of the PMC is to provide comprehensive medical care, regardless of ability to pay, to underserved children and families, to promote health education and healthy living in the communities served and to train future health care providers for careers which will reduce health care disparities.

Major activities include:

  • Providing direct primary medical care for nearly 3,000 children a year who are without health insurance and access to medical providers and linking those who need it to specialists;
  • Providing mental health services for children and families identified to have specific needs;
  • Providing prevention education and support to reduce obesity and tobacco use and other preventable disease;
  • Assisting parents and grandparents with social service, case management and educational attainment issues to strengthening families and increase self-sufficiency;
  • Educating caregivers, community members and stakeholders about the specific health and developmental needs of children; and
  • Training future health care providers to meet the challenges of serving disadvantaged children, mentoring them to increase the numbers of those who will choose careers that serve the underserved.

Community Need

Miami-Dade County has the highest percentage of uninsured or underinsured residents in Florida, which is 50th among the 50 states and DC. Thirty-percent of the children living in Miami-Dade County live below the poverty level. Unfortunately, in spite of recent national and local efforts to provide insurance to more children, there is a steady increase of demand for health care services. The steady influx of disenfranchised families from other parts of the country, the continuing influx of foreign immigrants (including some 5,000 child refugees of the Haitian earthquake), lack of pediatric and primary health care providers in low-income areas, limited transportation, lack of health and social service information, cultural differences and language barriers are the main factors related to this demand. Additionally, the uncertain state of the economy continues to play a vital role in our community as more working class families must survive without access to health care. South Florida’s historic reliance on new housing growth and tourism revenue has made it among the nation’s hardest hit areas economically, with a staggering foreclosure rate that has yet to slow down.

The communities served by the PMC span a 50 mile radius and are among those with the highest percentage of children living in poverty and/or likely to be uninsured. Specific communities that will continue to be served through this program include: Little Havana, Homestead, Florida City, Little Haiti/North Miami, Westchester, and North Dade. With increasing financial support, the goal is to identify expand services to additional areas in need.

As a traveling health clinic whose purpose is to effectively provide access to the highest quality health care to underserved children from birth to 21 years in South Florida, we build strong community-based relationships. The PMC team partners with the Miami- Dade County Health Department, the Florida Department of Health, the Miami Dade County Public Schools, Department of Children and Families, the Human Services Coalition, and numerous local churches and social service agencies. These partnerships allow the PMC to gain community trust, leverage resources, improve program capacity and increase access to exceptional healthcare for children in need.

Each year the program accomplishes the following: nearly 3,000 medical encounters; 3,000 hours of training for students, residents, interns and fellows; nearly 600 encounters by the psychologist and mental health counselor which identify and manage issues such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, self-esteem problems, behavioral problems, and family violence; social services to 1000 children which include case management, subspecialty referrals, food bank referrals, and toy and clothing donations; assistance for Kid Care applications and instructions for enrollment; 3,000 immunizations for children which include tuberculosis screenings; tobacco screening and cessation counseling to over 200 adolescents and adults, and medical legal services for patients that need legal assistance.