Health, emergencies and disabled access in Miami

How to stay happy, healthy and mobile in Miami—plus information on disabled-access facilities

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Natural hazards

Mosquitoes

Although Miami itself has an effective control program that ensures mosquitoes are rarely a pest, be prepared to be eaten alive the moment you leave the city limits. The Everglades and other wooded areas are the worst affected, so buy an insect repellent you like the smell of, and use it.

Weather

Hurricane season in Florida runs from June to November, and during the year there may be as few as two or as many as 20 blowing in. The majority blow themselves out or remain at sea rather than striking the mainland. Devastated several times in the past (including a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma in 2005), Miami now has a highly sophisticated early warning system ensuring that when the "big one" arrives, it’s unlikely to be a surprise. The National Hurricane Center in Miami can give 24 hours’ warning of a possible hit, and public radio and most TV stations then give out the latest information and evacuation plans. Be prepared to evacuate your hotel, even if the weather doesn’t appear threatening when the warning is issued.

Tornadoes are part of the same weather system, but despite looking so dramatic, they’re considerably less destructive. They’re also less predictable, so there’s no warning. Most of Miami’s buildings are robust enough to suffer only minor damage, even when directly in the path of a tornado, so stay inside and you’re probably safest.

For weather updates, you can call the National Weather Service Forecast Office on 1-305 229 4522.

Hospitals

In Miami, as in other parts of the US, you’ll be charged a fortune for even basic medical care. Having full insurance cover, preferably with a low excess, is the only way to feel at ease; keep the details with you and leave a copy with someone at home. If it’s not an emergency, walk-in clinics are cheaper, friendlier and more numerous than hospitals. Miami Beach Community Health Center at the Stanley C Myers Center (710 Alton Road, at 7th Street, 1-305 538 8835, www.miamibeachhealth.org, 7.30am–6pm Mon, Wed; 7.30am–5pm Tue, Thur, Fri) is a public clinic that charges according to what you earn.

For emergencies, dial 911 or head for the nearest emergency room. Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is considered the best but also charges the most.

Children’s Hospital
3100 SW 62nd Avenue, off Red Road (SW 57th Avenue), at Devonshire Boulevard, South-West Miami (1-305 666 6511, www.mch.com). Bus 72.
A specialist emergency room and good outpatient services.

Coral Gables Hospital
3100 S Douglas Road (SW 37th Avenue), at Santander Avenue, Coral Gables (1-305 445 8461, www.coralgableshospital.com). Bus 37.
A 24-hour emergency department and a high-capacity outpatient unit with same-day surgery.

Jackson Memorial Hospital
1611 NW 12th Avenue, at NW 16th Street, Downtown (1-305 585 1111, www.jacksonhealth.org). Metrorail Civic Center.
The main county hospital.

Mount Sinai Medical Center
4300 Alton Road, at 43rd Street, North Beach (1-305 674 2020, www.msmc.com). Bus C, M, R.
A well-equipped hospital, and pricey.

University of Miami Hospital
1400 NW 12th Avenue, at NW 14th Street, Downtown (1-305 689 5511, www.umiamihospital.com). Bus 12, 22, 95, M/Metrorail Civic Center.

Contraception and abortion

Jean Shehan Health Center
3119A SW 22nd Street, between SW 31st Avenue & SW 31st Court, South Miami (1-305 285 5535, www.plannedparenthood.org). Bus 24. Open 8.30am–5pm Tue; 11am–7pm Wed; 1–5pm Thur; 9am–3pm Fri; 10am–3pm Sat.
Care for men and women, including birth-control supplies, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing.

STDs, HIV and Aids

CARE Resource
Suite 300, 3510 Biscayne Boulevard, at 35th Street, Design District (1-305 576 1234, www.careresource.org). Bus 9, 10, J. Open 8.30am–5pm Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri; 8.30am–7.30pm Wed.

South Beach AIDS Project
306 Lincoln Road, between Collins & Washington Avenues, South Beach (1-305 5532 1033, www.sobeaids.org). Bus C, G, H, K, L, R, S, W, South Beach Local. Open 9am–7pm daily.

Dentists

The South Florida District Dental Association (1-305 667 3647, www.sfdda.org) has a search facility on its website that will help you find a local dentist who’s a member of the American Dental Association.

Helplines

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline 1-800 784 6776.
Alcoholics Anonymous 1-305 461 2425.
Coast Guard 911 or 1-305 535 4472.
Crisis & Suicide Counseling Service 1-305 358 4357.
Poison Information Center 1-800 222 1222.
Rape Hotline 1-305 585 7273.

Pharmacies

Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) and CVS (www.cvs.com) are the most prevalent chains, with branches all over town, several of which are open 24 hours a day.

Disabled access

As in most of the US, disabled travelers to Miami are likely to find it relatively easy to get around. The exception may be South Beach’s Deco District, where the 1930s architecture offers some tight angles and tiny elevators that can plague wheelchair users. However, even the smallest hotels often have ramps and stairlifts fitted, and by federal law all public buildings—including museums and libraries—must have wheelchair access and suitable toilet facilities.

Miami-Dade Transit buses are equipped with lifts or special low entrances, set spaces and grips, and both the Tri-Rail and Metromover are fully wheelchair-accessible.

On the beaches, there’s wheelchair access at 10th Street and Ocean Drive on South Beach, at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne and at the North Shore State Recreation Area. You can also borrow Beach Chairs, wheelchairs specially designed to access sandy areas, at Haulover Beach and Crandon Park Beach (see here for more details). All public pools in Miami-Dade County are equipped with lifts. The New York-based Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (1-212 447 7284, www.sath.org) can offer information and services for disabled travelers in all parts of the United States.

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