Connecting Kids to Coverage: Florida

I’m Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami. The University of Miami is proud to be a partner with the Miami-Dade School District in enrolling children in KidCare. Dr. Lisa Gwynn and our medical students are out in communities providing an innovative way for parents to access healthcare for their children. The Pediatric Mobile Clinic is a program that provides medical care to uninsured children throughout Dade County. We provide medical care, school physicals, immunizations, we also provide social services and psychological care as well. In working with the University of Miami and their mobile pediatric unit, that unit is already out in the school districts working with children who are uninsured. We have, as the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, begun to work in each of our schools and we figured this was a natural bridge to work together. The refer children who do not have insurance, they refer those children to us for care and they also assist us with connecting patients to KidCare. Here are two groups in our community that have such access to services and play such a pivotal role in this Miami-Dade community, there are tremendous opportunities here for us to work together. The Mobile Clinic enrolls approximately two thousand students a year. My son’s school hooked us up, actually. They called me up and said “ Hey, you need your shots. Come on down, we have this mobile unit here.” We found out about KidCare through the school. As soon as they found out my grandson no longer had medical coverage they told us “Why don’t you fill out all of the paperwork for KidCare?” And we did. Despite the fact that we have a tremendous program people don’t line up. We need to make sure that we get the message out. We need to get the families to focus on the need for providing health insurance for their children. We always need to make sure that we follow up on our KidCare enrollees. The most important thing is to ensure that you empower staff in every school to reach out to their families. We have to make sure everyone in the school from the principal down has said “This is so important to us that we want to do this work.” KidCare is critically dependent on partnerships. All of the partnerships that the state has in place for Florida KidCare basically are designed to benefit the children. If we can work together and collaborate we can do much, much better things together as opposed to working separately. No one will be able to say in this community that they have not heard about Florida KidCare or had access to apply for it. It’s a tremendous feeling to be able to help a family connect with insurance or connect with medical care. It’s like the best program ever. It’s been a wonderful experience, really.

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