March is Women’s History Month, dedicated to celebrating women’s important contributions in history. At Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI), women are recognized every day, as CHI would not exist without the sheer will and passion of one very special woman, Doris Ison.
Ison’s fearless attitude, advocacy and dedication to bring health care to African-Americans in South Florida was the catalyst that mobilized local and state leaders in the 1960’s to expand healthcare access. Her efforts were part of the monumental movement for the rights of poor and disenfranchised people across South Florida and led to the creation of CHI.
Ison was an activist blessed with strength, determination, and intelligence. She knew that situations could always change for the better if we unite and do what is right. Today, she would likely be extremely proud to see how her seeds of hope have grown to care for tens of thousands of patients each year. In 2020 alone, CHI served nearly 80,000 patients throughout its 11 health centers, mobile medical and dental units, and school-based programs.
In honor of Doris Ison and all the women who have made selfless contributions to help others, CHI will roll out a special Women’s History Month fundraising campaign. The funds will help build the first comprehensive Children’s Crisis Center in southern Miami-Dade County.
“This is a meaningful way to show appreciation to the women we have always looked up to,” said Victoria Castro, Director of Development at CHI.
“Many of us have had the privilege of having women in our lives, like Doris Ison. These women have provided time, dedication and support and changed our lives for the better.
These special women never ask for acknowledgment, but I think it is time we show them how much we admire them.”
The campaign provides an opportunity for people to donate in honor of the special women in their lives. This could be your mother, your friend or even someone you never knew personally but whose life story gave you the confidence to be the real you.
“I have had amazing women in my life. However, I immediately think to honor my professional mentor and friend, Marsha P. Kegley,”said Castro. “She made a huge difference in my career path. She encouraged me and saw my talent even before I could. She continues to inspire me today.”
We encourage everyone to donate to the Children’s Crisis Center and honor that special someone. These donations symbolize the support and encouragement you received and will now be passed on to thousands of children in need.
To donate please visit:
Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) began administering the first COVID-19 vaccine for its frontline healthcare workers on January 5, 2021. The Moderna vaccines arrived at Doris Ison Health Center.
Maria Caba, a patient care technician at Doris Ison, was the first to receive the vaccine. This marked a milestone moment for CHI and the entire community in the fight against COVID-19.
CHI received an initial allotment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and began offering it to employees in phases on a voluntary basis. Just a week later, CHI began giving the vaccine to its patients over 65 years of age.
Patients and community members have been turning to CHI for more information about the vaccines themselves, what to expect, and what steps they should take to protect themselves and others after being vaccinated.
Dr. Saint Anthony Amofah, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Academic Officer at Community Health of South Florida, Inc., is part of the team in charge of leading the healthcare system’s vaccination efforts across CHI.
Here he answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccination process:
Why should you get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risks of the vaccine. The COVID-19 disease is worrisome and can be deadly for many people. It can cause pneumonia, making patients feel very sick and overwhelmed with shortness of breath. Fortunately, the vaccine decreases the chances of having a severe COVID-19 illness.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes, it has been very well studied, and so far, side effects have been minimal. They include injection site pain and low-grade fever. Many of us have received the vaccine, and we have not suffered serious side effects.
Was the COVID-19 vaccine developed quickly?
Yes, it was. However, this is primarily because the technology used for these vaccines had been developed years ago for similar corona viruses. Additionally, the entire world and governments pumped significant funding into developing the vaccine. For example, the funding allowed manufacturing plants to be built even before the vaccine testing was completed. Financing makes things happen faster, but you can rest assured, they did not take short cuts.
Must I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?
The current recommendation is yes. The vaccine gives you stronger immunity over a longer period than the disease.
Do I need to wear a mask after I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine prevents serious disease in 95% of people. There will be 5% who may still get very sick. Additionally, it is thought that you can still transmit COVID-19 to your loved ones if you get exposed, even if you don’t get sick.
I feel a sense of hope and excitement as we head into a new year, our 50th anniversary as an organization, and now a federal structure to combat COVID-19.
Change is coming, and we are seeing the glimmers of healing and recovery all around us.
Here at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) we have started to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to our staff, the frontline healthcare workers, and to those over the age of 65. We hope the government will continue to enhance the supply of the vaccine and soon open restrictions so it is more widely available. Then we will all be on the road to recovery. I have received the vaccine and so have many of the doctors and nurses here at CHI. I encourage you all to do the same. It is the only way to stay safe and finally rid ourselves of this pandemic.
In fact, on February 15th, we will be hosting a webinar as part of our Black History Month celebration. This virtual conference will focus on the role that blacks have played in vaccine development as well as the current COVID-19 vaccines.
We will explore the long history of vaccine hesitancy among people of color and explain why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is so critical. I hope you will join us for this important webinar.
You can register here
Did you know a black female scientist helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine? In March, we’re celebrating key women, like her, during Women’s History Month. Of course, among these women is our very own Doris Ison, who founded CHI back in 1971, and now, 50 years later, her labor of love has grown into 11 thriving health centers, with comprehensive services throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
Female pioneers are all around us, making sacrifices for the betterment of others. These are the women who continue to inspire change. In March, we hope you will donate to the Children’s Crisis Center in honor of one of these special women. You can find more information about our campaign at the end of this newsletter.
Let’s celebrate the future together as we work towards a healthier community. For 50 years, CHI has eliminated barriers to health care for everyone, regardless of income or race. We are proud to continue to serve you and your family as your medical home.
Brodes H. Hartley, Jr.
Kantrell Young, Executive Secretary at Community Health of South Florida, Inc., couldn’t contain her excitement as she arrived at the main entrance of Doris Ison Health Center. Burnie, the Miami HEAT Mascot, was dancing, and the HEAT dancers were shaking their hips along with him. The music was pumping, and the Doris Ison parking lot had been transformed into a mega celebration.
This surprise helped lift the spirits of CHI employees, like Young. The Miami HEAT and Direct Relief joined forces to donate funding and serve meals to 400 frontline healthcare workers and patients on January 15, 2021. The memorable event brought smiles and much needed laughter during this stressful pandemic.
“ CHI is honored and grateful to receive donations, lunch, and a festive visit from Direct Relief and the Miami HEAT” said Brodes H. Hartley, Jr., CHI CEO. “It’s wonderful to be recognized. I know this gesture will go a long way with our team at CHI, as we continue to devote ourselves to the health care of this community.”
At the celebration, the Miami HEAT and the Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation presented a check for $1,000,000 to Direct Relief’s Health Equity Fund. The donation gives health centers like CHI access to funding needed to serve its communities.
“We are very appreciative to Direct Relief and the HEAT for what they do for the community and for what they are doing today for CHI,” said Hartley.
COVID-19 has disproportionally affected people of color with higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death from the COVID-19 virus. This event honored the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as organizations worked to deliver a positive change and uplift the Black community.
Miami HEAT legend Glen Rice, TV host and courtside reporter Jason Jackson, and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne McGhee joined the fun and even handed out lunch at the event.
“I am so thankful for the meal and the great experience we just had,” said Kantrell Young. “It feels good to be acknowledged for everything we have accomplished throughout this pandemic.”
CHI staff members said they walked away from the event, feeling a renewed sense of optimism and energy.
“It is a privilege to work for CHI, and I really appreciate all the unforgettable moments our partners provide to us every single day,” said Young.