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Ground broken for $12M Liberty City Health Clinic

Wilson says 22nd Avenue will see “needed revitalization”

D. Kevin McNeir | 9/12/2013, 10:09 a.m.
Roy Hardemon, St. Sen. Dwight Bullard, County Commissioner Jean Monestime and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson celebrate health clinic.

After the outdated Miami-Dade County Health Department’s Juanita Mann Clinic and the Jessie Trice Community Health Center were both closed many years ago, the residents of Liberty City found themselves without a health clinic in their community. What ensued were funding delays, broken promises and years of scandal after scandal – but no health clinic. But finally, last Thursday, community leaders and residents, health advocates including those from the Florida Department of Health and elected officials celebrated at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new $12M Liberty City Health Clinic [2520 NW 75th Street].

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson [FL-24] and Miami-Dade County [M-DC] Commission Jean Monestime led words of victory before they and other participants donned their construction hats and placed their shovels into the ground to mark the long-awaited move forward.

“Rich, poor, Blacks, whites and Hispanics all need health care and are entitled to it,” Wilson said. “It’s a moral issue – even if some of our elected officials don’t see it that way. This is a win-win for the people of Liberty City who need and deserve access to quality, comprehensive healthcare and have waited for it for far too long. Once completed, this health clinic will provide healthcare services for our underserved and most vulnerable citizens.”

As a state senator, Wilson helped secure $2.5M to begin construction on the Liberty City health clinic and says she has fought for years, along with other officials, to protect the funds and keep them in the Black community.

“I know that Poinciana Park does not have the best of reputations, but Commissioner Monestime pledged his support upon being elected to the county commission,” Wilson added. “This is a partnership that we have formed and I know from experience that a federally-qualified health care center is the best place anyone can get needed medical attention.”

Wilson noted that the clinic will bring other businesses to the area as well including: restaurants, cleaners, convenience stores, and the like.”

Partners say ‘it’s a great day’ for Liberty City

“This health clinic will serve as a point of light for better things to come and will bring much-needed jobs to Liberty City,” Monestime said. “Our citizens deserve this.”

State Senator Dwight Bullard said, “This is a culmination of leaders who have been at the forefront for the Black community: Gwen Cherry, Carrie Meek, Frederica Wilson. I’m pleased to be included with today’s team and to watch this long-delayed dream become a reality.”

Elaine Black, president/CEO, Liberty City Community Revitalization Trust said a void has finally been filled.

“When the County closed down the health clinic on 62nd, we had nowhere else to go,” she said. “Back in 2008 members of the community became involved with the Liberty City Advisory Committee and we made our demands known. We told the County that we needed a health clinic in our own neighborhood. The added benefit is that this will be an economic generator for Liberty City too.”

Roy Hardemon, chairman, Model City Community Advisory Board, agreed.

“We promised the residents of Liberty City after the civil disturbances in 1980 that we would bring jobs and health care here, but it wasn’t easy,” he said. “It’s partnerships like that that make that possible and signal real growth for Liberty City.”

Annie R. Neasman, president/CEO, Jessie Trice Community Health Center was exuberant.

“What can I say? -- the Congresswoman has said it all,” she said. “We’re going to do great things for and with this community.”

Other partners and program participants at the groundbreaking included: Lillian Rivera, administrator/health officer, FL Dept. of Health, M-DC; St. Rep. Cynthia Stafford; Alina T. Hudak, M-DC deputy mayor; Sherwood DuBose, chairman, Jessie Trice Community Health Center; John A Rock, founding dean, senior vice-president for medical affairs, FIU Wertheim College of Medicine; Sheldon D. Fields, assistant dean, interim director of nursing program, FIU; and State Senator Rene Garcia.