Federal grant to Miami health center will renovate and build clinics

A community health center in Miami is one of two institutions in Florida to receive newly announced grants of $250,000 from the Affordable Care Act to help them build and renovate their medical facilities.

The Jessie Trice Community Health Center, which treated its first patients from a trailer in 1967, now runs a dozen primary-care centers and 21 school-based clinics in and around Miami. Tampa Family Health Centers, which has 13 locations in Hillsborough County, is the other Florida recipient of the grants.

The money for the two institutions is part of $35.7 million in ACA grants announced this week by the Department of Health and Human Services to support facility improvements at 147 health centers in 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Dr. Fabian Thurston, the chief operating officer at the not-for-profit Trice center, said Thursday that the money will be used to refurbish and improve the Jefferson Reaves House, a 40-bed women’s residential center that since 1988 has been dedicated primarily to treating substance-abuse problems.

The facility will add examination rooms and medical equipment to treat what Thurston called “corollary issues” such as mental illness, and men will become part of the patient roster. Other primary-care disciplines such as dentistry also will be provided, he said.

“We want to integrate all of our services so that an individual can get all of his or her care in one facility,” Thurston said. “Now everything can be done on site.”

The Trice center has a staff of about 250 and a medical team of 27, and serves about 28,000 clients, according to its website. The organization’s target population is the uninsured and underinsured, 95 percent of whom live at or below the federal poverty level.

“We’re making these investments so that Florida health centers will be able to provide even higher quality services to the patients that rely upon them,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement.

This story was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.