Funding the Future
A Haitian health center’s leader aims to help train a new generation of culturally competent physicians
By Cathy Alton
Photograph by Sonya Revell
Few understand the imminent shortage of physicians in South Florida, and how that shortage is affecting the disenfranchised populations of Miami-Dade County, as well as Larry Pierre, M.D., M.P.H. ’90.
During his fellowship in HIV/AIDS at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Dr. Pierre saw the need firsthand.
“There was a stereotyping of Haitians with HIV,” he said. “It was a social stigma that pushed Haitians away and it made them shy away from seeking care.”
In 1988, in partnership with the University of Miami, Dr. Pierre founded the Center for Haitian Studies, Health and Human Services to serve the populations of Miami’s Little Haiti/Little River neighborhoods.
“I also realized there was a significant need to train future health care providers,” said Dr. Pierre, who is still director of the center. “As large numbers of immigrants arrive here, there’s an even greater need for culturally competent physicians to deliver the services they need. Because of its geographic location, the Miller School is the institution best able to provide that training.”
To help push that training along, Dr. Pierre has given more than $2 million to support residency programs in family medicine, surgery, psychiatry, med-peds and internal medicine.
“I want to improve access to health care in immigrant communities and to encourage more minority students to pursue careers in medicine.”
— Larry Pierre, M.D.
The Future of Health Care
Medical residents are the future of our health care system,” he said. “I want to improve access to health care in immigrant communities and to encourage more minority students to pursue careers in medicine.”
Toward that end, Dr. Pierre is also a strong supporter of the University of Miami’s Pediatric Mobile Clinic, which provides medical care to uninsured children, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status.
He also has supported the Miller School Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement’s Future Medical Scholars Fellowship Program, summer program for high school students with an interest in pursuing careers in medicine.
Dr. Pierre is proud that his donations will have long-term benefits.
“UM offers the best training in academic medicine,” he said. “Through education, research and community outreach, they have a unique potential to impact the whole region for generations to come.”