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, the work continues. In fact, in a city as big and diverse as Miami, the work may never end — as long as this agency is blessed to flourish. This 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 past 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 said she is still amazed there exists such a high demand for healthcare 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.”
Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine (Florida) the St. John Bosco Clinic previously was 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 said 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.
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.”
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, but then again, I don’t know… If we ever see a total revamping of the health care system, our work may be done, but unless and until then, there will be people in need to take care of.”
The 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 www.stjohnboscoclinicmiami.org/contact.