A MINISTRY OF CARE

Debora Nery (right) has partnered with her husband Jose (below left) to provide community-based primary care in South Dade County.

Through the door they come, several a day, dozens a week. Most are Spanish-speaking workers; some are legal U.S. residents, others not. All are low-income and uninsured. Within the Good Samaritan mobile clinic, these needy Miami-Dade residents receive compassionate healthcare services from Debora Nery, BSN ’08, and her husband, Jose R. Nery, MD.

The Nerys, natives of Brazil who met in medical school, had long dreamed of practicing together, and the Good Samaritan is the fulfillment of that dream. Debora Nery trained and worked as a surgical pathologist before she and Jose moved to Miami, where he joined the Miller School of Medicine as a transplant surgeon. Once the couple’s children were out of the nest (all three are now UM students), Debora decided to return to health care—this time on the nursing side. She completed the school’s accelerated BSN program last May.

Through the Kendall Brazilian Church, of which they are founding members, the Nerys befriended a family that donated the funds to purchase and outfit the Good Samaritan. The clinic, which opened last September, includes two fully equipped examination rooms. It is parked alternate weeks outside the Wayside Baptist Church, home of the Kendall Brazilian Church, and at the Jordan Commons Residential Community in Naranja, one of several villages developed by Habitat for Humanity for low-income residents.

In Naranja, the couple and a team of volunteers provide services from 4 to 10 p.m. to accommodate their patients’ schedules, as most are farm workers. “They’re very surprised to see the quality of the interior and how much equipment we have,” Debora says.

Through its Pastoral Care Service, Baptist Health of South Florida has assigned South Miami Hospital and Homestead Hospital to provide diagnostic services such as clinical and surgical pathology, mammograms and other X-rays, ultrasounds, CAT scans, MRIs, and invasive procedures—as well as various specialized treatments—at no cost. Some specialists have donated services; the Nerys hope to find others, from disciplines such as gynecology, orthopaedics, and ophthalmology, to help meet patient needs.

“Hispanic patients often have conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure,” Debora says. “Those who don’t have health insurance or financial resources are vulnerable to serious complications. We take a very holistic approach to care—listening to ourpatients’ concerns, then counseling and providing them with detailed information about their condition and how to manage it.

“Most of our patients come back regularly for follow-ups, and that’s a good indicator of satisfaction,” she adds. Though they cannot pay, the patients show their gratitude in multiple ways: “We get fresh greens, boxes of corn, bunches of flowers, homemade cakes.

“After practicing as a physician earlier in my career, I’ve enjoyed discovering the differences between nursing and medicine,” Debora reflects. “Nursing addresses our patients’ deepest needs. And the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies provided me with excellent preparation to become a resourceful health care provider.”