HOLLYWOOD — The unconquered spirit of the namesake of the Hollywood Reservation’s new medical building is alive and well despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Betty Mae Jumper Medical Center was a goal of Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola and Tribal Council for many years. That goal was reached this year when construction was completed and the center gradually opened, even though a planned community event to mark the occasion was canceled for safety reasons.
The center is located at 111 West Coral Way at the Seminole Estates in Hollywood. The towering Guitar Hotel is just to its north.
Jumper, of course, is the matriarch and Seminole legend – someone with a long list of personal and professional accomplishments – including her health care advocacy and 40-year career as a nurse. She died in 2011 at 88.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the center was held Jan. 16, 2019.
One stop shop
The hurricane resistant state-of-the-art medical center is two stories tall and 40,000 square feet with many amenities.
One of the key reasons it was developed was to locate all of the offerings that fall under the Health & Human Services umbrella to one building, and to add some new ones, like pediatric dentistry services. In addition, the existing health clinic had been outgrown.
Enhancements and services at the new center include:
• More treatment rooms
• Dialysis treatment
• Pharmacy with drive-thru
• Extra triage station
• Special needs space during hurricane season in the event of an evacuation
• Optometry/optical services
• Massage therapy
• Chiropractic and spine care services
• Physical therapy
• More urgent care services
The programs that have moved to the complex include:
• Advocacy & Guardianship
• Center for Behavioral Health
• Children’s Center for Diagnostics & Therapy
• Health & Human Services Administration
• Tribal Health Clinic/Non-Clinical Services
• Tribal Health Plan Administration.
Vandhana Kiswani-Barley is a physician and the new interim executive director of Health & Human Services, succeeding former executive director Paul Isaacs.
She’s been in the position since June 29, after working at the Big Cypress health clinic as a family practitioner for about two years.
While the new center is completed and open, Kiswani-Barley said some of the departments are operating with limited in-house staff due to Covid-19.
However, medical and dental services are fully staffed, she said, and the pharmacy is up and running normally.
Kiswani-Barley said she hasn’t noticed that Tribal members were canceling appointments because of the pandemic.
“Social distancing is in effect, but if they need to come in, they come in,” she said, adding that the center is open to any Tribal member regardless of what reservation they live on.
The clinic accepts walk-ins, but encourages appointments due to Covid-19.
“All staff is wearing full [Personal Protective Equipment] to see all patients at all times,” Kiswani-Barley said.
There aren’t any facility tours taking place, as there would have been at a typical grand opening, but Seminole Media Productions produced a video to give Tribal members a peek with a virtual walk thru.
“It’s a beautiful building with a lot of different departments compared to the previous one. All services are under one roof and it’s easy access,” she said.
Kiswani-Barley was already familiar with Hollywood’s health care system, because she used to visit the clinic once a week while working in Big Cypress. She also lives nearby in Weston.
She was medically trained in New York City and then worked in rural medicine in Iowa – including with populations with high levels of comorbidities (patients presenting more than one disease). While in Iowa, she became the chief medical officer in a rural health clinic and the head of four ambulatory units.
But Iowa was too cold and warm Florida weather called to her, so she and her family moved to Broward County in 2017 where she was in private practice for about a year before she interviewed with the Tribe.
“I liked Big Cypress because it’s kind of like urban medicine, but in a rural area,” she said.
Kiswani-Barley said that while the Tribe has more financial resources than others, there are still comorbidities in the community.
“I learn new things every day about different disease pathologies every day,” she said. “It’s intriguing and makes the day go by a lot faster.”
For a complete list of health care-related programs and services provided by the Tribe, click here.