- Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews - http://egpnews.com -

Garfield High School Home to Community Clinic

East Los Angeles residents have a new community clinic and it happens to be located in one of the neighborhood’s most beloved institutions, Garfield High School.

The Wellness Center at Garfield High School will offer free and reduced-rate medical care to students, staff, and local residents. The center, operated by Bienvenidos Children’s Center in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), will also offer mental health and dental services.

School officials, parents and students gather to celebrate the opening of the Garfield High School Wellness Center. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The clinic, however, will not replace the school nurse, according to Dr. Rafael Gonzalez-Amuezcua, Bienvenidos director of medical services.

“Our overall goal is to keep our students healthy, so they don’t miss school… so their health is not a barrier to their success in school,” Gonzalez-Amuezcua told EGP.

The clinic means that students could miss a few periods instead of entire days of school if they need medical attention, he said.

It also means students will get the annual physicals and flu shots they are supposed to receive, and will help ensure students get follow-up care when they receive a referral from the school nurse, Garfield Parent Resource Liaison Rosie Marquez told EGP.

Principal Jose Huerta noted that healthy students perform better academically, and the clinic will expose students to the medical field—some through internships.

When he began his career as an educator 20 years ago, he never imagined he would one day see a clinic at the campus to serve not only students but also members of the community, Huerta told EGP.

At the Nov. 29 ribbon cutting ceremony, School Board President Mónica García said it was a great day for East Los Angeles, Garfield High School and the LAUSD.

Our partnership with Bienvenidos and the opening of the Wellness Center in our school provides access for all students and quality services to help them be in their seats everyday ready to learn and know that support is close by, García said in a written statement.

The clinic opened a week prior to its ribbon cutting ceremony and includes a dispensary with prepackaged medication supervised by a pharmacist, according to Gonzalez-Amuezcua.

This Wellness Center is the most recently announced on the eastside, following in the footsteps of Wilson, Torres and Roosevelt high schools. A total of 15 such centers are located on campuses across the school district, according to LAUSD Student Health and Human Services Director Rene Gonzalez.

The school-based clinics are being opened in partnership with community health care providers, such as Bienvenidos, with the guidance of Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health, and about $34 million from LAUSD Joint-Use/Innovation facilities funding, according to the district.

Bienvenidos President and Chief Executive Officer Ritchie Geisel said the clinic’s main clients are Garfield students, but the services are not exclusively for them.

“Bienvenidos’ mission is to provide a compassionate community of care dedicated to healing children and their families, and we are recognized in the community as a leader in providing culturally responsive medical services,” Geisel said in a written statement. “Our community benefits from a combination of integrated services and resources through cross-program collaboration. With this holistic approach to care, we provide a safety net for children and their families with the goal of establishing a medical home for the students and community served through our school-based Wellness Centers.”

Garfield High School’s Wellness Center cost $1.6 million and is part of LAUSD’s $19.5 billion New School Construction and Modernization Program, according to the school district.

Garfield’s Wellness Center is located at 501 South Woods Street, Los Angeles, CA 90022. For more information, to inquire about health services or to make an appointment call: (323) 269-2623.

Mobile Health Clinic and Community Fair This Friday

UnitedHealthcare and Bienvenidos will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Friday, Dec. 7, to launch a Mobile Health Clinic that will serve families in East Los Angeles. Speakers will include U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bienvenidos President & CEO Ritchie Geisel, and UnitedHealthcare of California CEO Brandon Cuevas.

The health fair from 10am to 1pm will offer free flu shots, screenings for diabetes and hypertension, and tips from experts on health, wellness and nutrition.

The event will be located at the Bienvenidos Health Clinic, 507 South Atlantic, Los Angeles, CA 90022. For more information call (323) 268-9191.