Celebrating 35 Years of Care
In the late 1960s, many of the residents of South Miami-Dade County had limited access to a hospital. Some had no access at all. Outpatient treatment of routine medical problems, and primary health care that could have prevented them, were luxuries. Even worse, trauma and other urgent cases were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Many died before they reached that excellent but distant facility which was 45 miles from Homestead. These residents were predominately Black Americans, Bahamians and Mexican Migrant and Seasonal Farm workers who were uninsured.
Among those visionaries who called for change was Doris lson, for whom Community Health of South Florida's principal facility is named. In April of 1971, Mrs. Ison helped galvanize action and authorities reached an agreement to establish Community Health of South Dade, Incorporated (CHI).
With federal money from the Office of Economic Opportunity, and a supplement from Metropolitan Dade County, CHI opened two trailers near US1 and SW 216th Street. Soon we added a second facility; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinica Campesina, which opened in 1973 to serve indigent and migrant families near Homestead.
By 1972, with the closing of Kendall Hospital, Dade County agreed to help CHI build a permanent facility with funds from the county's Decade of Progress Referendum. The facility was built on a 28-acre site on SW 216th Street and was named after Doris lson.
The early years focused on disease prevention, the addition of mental health programs and delivering primary care. In the convention of times, the emphasis was on making and keeping people healthy, often on a charitable basis. At this time, administrators realized that CHI should find additional ways to sustain the operations and growth of the company by seeking more revenue from patient fees and insurance payments.
By 1980, facilities and staff had expanded: we offered a women infant, children program operated by the Public Health Department, eye care, emergency treatment and avariety of primary care services. At the time, we referred cases to specialty facilities only as necessary.
In the mid '80s, CHI experienced a decade of consistent growth under the then new President and
CEO, Brodes H. Hartley, Jr. Outreach was a major focus of programs at this time. We added the South Dade and Everglades migrant centers and expanded our mental health crisis stabilization unit. We developed a child protection team, opened therapeutic group homes for youngsters, and established innovative programs at COPE South, Southridge and Homestead High Schools. CHI also responded to the incessant spread of AIDS, and opened transitional housing for the homeless. Technological improvements included ultrasound, mammography, diagnostics and analyses.
The 80's was also a great time for embracing the efficiency of computerized management information systems. Out of the high medical need to serve the Florida population at efficient levels with low cost, CHI and four other health centers pioneered Health Choice Network. HCN is an organization that serves the purpose of delegating essential business services that can be more efficiently or effectively operated jointly, thus allowing the centers to serve more patients,offer more services, and enhance the level of care they provide to improve health outcomes.
Additionally, to better serve the operating tasks of CHI, the Community Health Foundation,Inc., was formed to pursue development and fund raising opportunities.
A Great Time of
CHI also met the challenge of the 1990's cost containment. We began relationships with HMOs and other forms of managed care. We prepared to aggressively market our unique "one stop shop" services in a society increasingly concerned about healthcare, its accessibility,quality and cost.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated South Miami-Dade County and the next day after the storm we opened our doors. The two trailers housing the South Dade and Everglades migrant centers operations
were destroyed and with the assistance of FEMA services resumed in new trailers. During the 1990s CHI completed construction projects that provided permanent state of the art facilities at South Dade, Everglades, Naranja, West Perrine and the Martin Luther King, Jr.Clinica Campesina Annex. The school-based health center programs at COPE South, Homestead High, Southridge Sr.High and Mays Middle increased the number of CHI's delivery sites. In November of 1998, CHI was accredited by the Joint Commission on Accredited Healthcare Organizations(JCAHO).
2000 to 2006
Following the unprecedented level of growth and development, CHI's client base increased tremendously. Our dental program increased from three to seven dentists and now provides services to all but one location. Programs such as Healthy Body / Healthy Soul, Jessie Trice Cancer Prevention, Depression Collaborative, School Connect and Health Connect and many others, helped engrave in the minds of individuals that CHI is a "one stop shop" for all of their health care needs.
In order to better serve the community, CHI took a step to make sure that "patient care comes first," by implementing the Electronic Health Record (EHR)and the Electronic Oral Health Record (EOHR). EHR and EOHR have helped accuracy, increased workflow and over time, saved capital, thus helping to provide our customers with excellent service.
It was also at this time when a niche market was discovered; the need to provide service to gain fully employed individuals without health insurance. Thus, CareNet was born - a discount medical plan that provides discounts at certain health care centers and access to a wide network of providers for medical services.
In an effort to develop and train the leaders and talent of individuals in the health care field, partnerships have been created,developed and nurtured with many great health and educational organizations such as AmeriCorps, the University of Miami, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida International University, Barry University and Nova Southeastern University.