Fall 2020

Medical enterprise responds to help community during pandemic

COVID-19 testing site at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds

Florida International University’s academic medical enterprise, with its many health care disciplines and strong community orientation, swiftly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, furnishing a variety of frontline medical services.

Through a partnership with Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Health and the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, FIU has staffed and operated a COVID-19 test site at the fairgrounds that has tested tens of thousands of Miami-Dade County residents since opening in April 2020.

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine staff supervise the clinical operations, which include volunteer faculty and students from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM), the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and the Robert Stempel College of Social Work & Public Health. Operational and logistical oversight is handled by the FIU Division of Operations and Safety, with support from Miami-Dade County.

“Testing is key to understand how the virus behaves in the population. It helps us understand its transmission rate,” said Dr. Eneida Roldan, the CEO of the FIU HealthCare Network and HWCOM associate dean who serves as clinical director for the testing site.

The Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP), the signature community-based program of HWCOM, has continued its activities during the pandemic. It is a service-learning program that immerses medical students in the community, particularly in underserved neighborhoods. Alongside nursing, social work and physician assistant students, they learn firsthand about the social determinants of health.

While most of the NeighborhoodHELP team has been working remotely, some of its staff continue to make house calls for patients who require special care. Typically, the program provides health care services in the home and through mobile health centers.

While the mobile units are not operating, primary care and behavioral health services are being furnished through telehealth. If necessary, patients are seen at the FIU Health Faculty Group Practice on the FIU campus, and the NeighborhoodHELP Outreach Team continues to connect households to services in the community.

“We have been calling each and every one of our hundreds of households to find out how they are doing and what we can do for them,” said Virama Oller, director of the NeighborhoodHELP Outreach Team.