Los Angeles School District Clinics ‘Fill Void’ for Students, Parents
School clinics in Southern California are becoming the "primary health care centers" for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Los Angeles Unified School District has 27 school-based clinics, which medical and social workers say "fill a void" in low-income communities. According to an HHS report, 13% of the nation's schoolchildren did not seek care for a one-year period in 1999. The report also found that 12% of children under 18 had no health coverage. Margaret Lee, director of special projects at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said, "If the clinic wasn't there, [students and their families] wouldn't get care or would travel to a county hospital. We have research that shows that school-based clinics relieve the burden on trauma centers and emergency rooms." Pacoima Middle School plans to open a clinic in February that will care for parents two nights per week. Another nearby clinic, the Maclay Family Health Center at Maclay Middle School in Pacoima, which operates solely on a $300,000 federal grant, offers "limited" mental health and nutrition counseling to families. Adriana Linares, the nursing coordinator at Maclay, said that many families use the clinic after waiting more than a month for "a routine checkup" at county-run clinics and hospitals. However, the Times reports that critics of the school clinics say that school systems "should not be in the health care business." Lance Izumi, director of the education unit of the Pacific Research Institute, said that school expenditures on health care should be used instead for "books, improving building and paying teachers." He added, "The reason we have schools is to educate kids. Health care and other issues are secondary to the school" (Kondo, Los Angeles Times, 10/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.